Realism: The practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fishing Camp

When I was growing up I assumed every man, every REAL man, owned an airplane. In the 1950s they were not necessarily a high end luxury toy. An old airplane cost about the same as a good secondhand car. We couldn't afford a second car. Certain priorities had to be maintained. All of the Old Man's friends seemed to own an airplane or a least a share in one. There was a rough grass airstrip on my grandfather's farm where at least two or three planes were usually tied down.

Being a rural kid, I could drive a truck when I was about twelve, but I could fly an airplane long before that. Sunday afternoons were spent in the air. When the Old Man would get bored, I would take the stick. Being up in the air there was nothing to hit, nothing a kid could wreck - just learn to fly by trial and error. The only issue was trying to keep my feet on the pedals.

For a while the Old Man had two airplanes, one on wheels and another, a pontoon, he owned with his sidekick, Big Donald. I suppose there was a Little Donald at one time, but if so, I never knew him.

The pictures were taken with a rangefinder camera with a wind-up delay. The Aeronca Sedan had a fabric covered body with aluminum wings, a step up from the all fabric Piper Cub 2-seater it replaced. The stylish dark red and cream Sedan was normally a 4-seater, but for the purposes of fishing in remote Canadian lakes, it became a 2-seater to make room for gear.
(Incidently, one time the Old Man and Don ran into a hard headwind on a return trip, and ran out of fuel. The Old Man slid her, dead stick, into an alfalfa field south of Owatonna and didn't even scratch the pontoons. It did merit an unwanted front page photo in the local paper though. A couple of days later they cobbled a wheeled dolly to fit under the pontoons and he flew her out and finished the trip home.)
Before he bought the Cub, he and maybe Homer(?), drove to Canada in a pickup, and then took their equipment, including a light boat, on the train to Churchill. They were dropped off out in the middle of the boondocks and were picked up a week later by the train on its return run.
All this was before there was an REI in every town. People made or reworked all their equipment - a lot of Army surplus. (For instance, Homer had a custom boat he could car-top on his Caddy, built like a canvas/cedar strip canoe, except it was wider and had a transom for a light outboard). The Old Man coveted it; years later he bought on Homer's retirement sale, but resold it almost immediately. He just needed the pleasure of ownership of something fine. Their tent was an old parachute which had been converted into a simple tent by the local tent and awning maker. I don't remember any mosquito netting - just welts and itches. The boat in the photos was a Navy surplus lifeboat with a homemade pine transom to hold the 2 1/2 horse Evinrude, which was augmented by paddles.

Our boys were fishing in remote lakes that probably had never been fished, except by a handful of local Crees. I don't recall the names of the small lakes, but I know Gods Lake was favored if the goal was really big fish. The fish in the live-trap look to be a mixture of Northerns, Muskies and maybe a Lake Trout or two. Nice size (keep in mind that the Old Man was tall, and his legs don't look that big in the picture). The Old Man brought home some really enormous fish over the years - real trophy fish - fish that probably should have been mounted. But there was no way Ma was going to have a dead fish hanging on the walls of her home anyway! She barely tolerated Sid, the Whitetail buck mount, which was used as a hat rack in our front entry.


Anonymous said...

Man, I'm suddenly suffering from memory overload. It's been a good 30 years since I (we)last recalled the Aeronca Sedan. Bud gave me my first aeroplane ride in that Aeronca. As I was the air-virgin, Bud generously directed me to the right front seat where I could get a clear view of the manufacturer's tin plaque listing all of the flight manuvers that the plane was not supposed to be subjected to. After gaining sufficient altitude and doing a lazy circle of the Albert Lea airport, Bud grinned and proceeded to start down the list of no-no manuvers. In hindsight they weren't all that severe, but I definitely remember my stomach wondering, "what the hell?" and I seem to recall Gunnar chuckling in the back seat.

Matt said...

Hi! A fascinating blog you got! We are restoring a 1949 Aeronca Sedan here in Switzerland. My first airplane; guess, I'll soon be a real man! ;-) I am also maintaining a website about the restoration and this aircarft type in general. It includes a unique gallery in which I try to present as many Sedans of the 561 built. Already quite a collection of 101 Sedans. Of course your pictures of N1154H immediately caught my eyes and I would like to ask, if you might be willing to let me use these for the Sedan online gallery: Yours or the photographer's name (if known) would be credited. Please contact me at: Would very much appreciate your contribution! Many thanks and best regards, Matt