Fishing the old time way

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It probably comes as no surprise to most, but for state employees there were and are still some rough times for those working out in the field.

As politicians toyed with division heads, causing power struggles, sometimes we were told not to work with, and other times we were told we had plans to merge.

I was blessed to have excellent working relations with my co-worker, Prentis Martin, and later his lovely wife Wanda. We just did our jobs and laughed at those playing their games.

I want to take you back a long way. Eddie Charles Henley and Alton Boulware—now folks they marched to their own drum and were a real “odd couple.” Eddie always spit and polish, uniform and vehicle, and Mr. Boulware just wore what he wanted the way he wanted.

I always thought they worked all the time, day and night! I enjoyed those stories they told and never knew how they stood on these issues, but they were both nearing their 70s, I guess, and I really wanted to know what was going on out there so I told them one day that I would be glad to work with them some time.

I waited for some response, but there was nothing until one night I got the call to meet them. Everything was always a secret!

I showed up before daylight with my boat. “Take that thing back; we’re gonna use ours.” Now, Mr. Boulware’s boat was an old Alumacraft, semi-v bottom, about a 75 horsepower outboard, and it would fly!”

I found out that morning why they always wore life preservers. I went with him and Eddie to a stakeout in his car in the mouth of Bird Creek. We were in heavy fog, waiting just south of Hatchett Creek—just sitting there.

I knew nothing about what we were doing—maybe this is a snipe hunt. Suddenly, the old handheld radio cracked, “He’s right here where he is supposed to be. I saw him. Now he’s heading towards you.”

“What?” “Shh,” he said. Then we saw this boat break through the fog and stop off this point, threw out his wires, got out his “telephone,” and went to work.

“Ahhh!,” I thought as he threw me an old yellow “yoke-type” life preserver to put on my pretty white shirt. Now, you get up in front of his boat, and when I pull alongside, you jump in his boat with him and get that telephone.

“What?,” I screamed. “Well, you get back here. He’s gonna run—you ram into him as I jump!”

The telephoner saw us, threw the phone in and took off. I pulled alongside and kind of nudged him. He stopped, and Mr. Boulware was in his boat at the same time! Mr. B, with his low voice and wide, answered the boater who had asked, “What did I do?”

“‘Mr. C,’ there is no reason to lie.” Mr. C went on the offense. Well, that don’t give you any reason to call me a lying **** (just as Mr. B was pulling up his telephone with his drag) “Well, Mr. C, what kind of **** would you that you are!”

They placed the case in Chilton Court. I was over there, and Eddie whispered to me, “Get over there and tell Alton not to place his case in Coosa County—they will have us on double jeopardy.” I decided then that I had plenty things to do besides that.

Note: It just dawned on me that some of you might actually not know what it is to “telephone” fish. The old time phones had small generators on the side that you spin, giving off an electric charge that could be used to shock fish. Very illegal. Thus, “phoning fish.”