I have many childhood memories about fishing and hunting in the state of Wisconsin and some of these occurred during the school year without my parents knowing they were going on. Toby Potts and I got off the school bus several times in front ofthe school but never attended school mainly because we had both conveniently filled our pockets with fishing line and hooks! We didn't get caught running the banks of Bridge Creek or the Eau Claire River very often, but enough that if one of us was absent the school automatically checked to see if the other was also gone before making phone calls to parents. Lucky for us fellow class mate Patsy Lane had an office practice class and would conveniently leave both our names off the absentee list each time. On one occasion though we were busted and in possession of a bag full of redhorse fish only because Patsy was also absent from school the day we went fishing and someone else did the absentee list! We also included Brian Kunz in our fishing plans that day and his mother and mine were like two wet hens trying to plot out the appropriate punishment for two wayward boys who went fishing instead of going to school! Things looked
pretty serious for Brian and I. I had visions of being locked in the Kunz
family farm corn crib or perhaps worse yet the occasional stroll to the river or creek might be next to impossible to pull off with all the added security measures they were about to enforce. Thoughts of having to go to the principal's office each morning to pick up my shoes were some of the scariest thoughts racing through my head as the tension mounted there on the Kunz farm. Since I had been known to skip school all by myself on a few occasions in the past I was automatically assumed the leader of this terrible act. Brian's dad Wesley approached the courtroom in the yard of the Kunz family before his wife Judge Gayle and assisted by assistant prosecuting attorney Mrs. Perkovich. Neither the judge nor the prosecuting attorneys were showing much compassion on the plaintiffs in this case. Wesley approached the courtroom scene cautiously like a mountain lion approaches a kill site of another predator animal. There was a certain swagger to each step that brought him closer and closer to the battle scene his son was being tortured at. I can still hear Gayle's voice echoing across yard, I mean courtroom, "Wesley what are we going to do with these two?" With a big smile on his face partially hidden by his large callused hand he said "Well I don't know, but that sure is a mighty fine looking bag of fish!" I knew that from that moment we were going to survive this terrible courtroom scene. Gayle then ask Wesley what he thought the main problem was in this case and how he felt we should both be punished? Wesley again answered in our favor " I think the problem is they built the school way to close to a creek full of fish!" He went on to say "I think if them boys give us them fish we should let them go, maybe someday they will go fishing again and bring us some more fish!" This old farmer instantly became one of my all time favorite prosecuting attorneys and even though he knew the redhorse came from Hay Creek, a good ten miles from school, he led the court to think that they came from Bridge Creek which was less then one hundred yards from the school. We survived that ordeal at the Kunz family farm and escaped the wrath of Gayle and Dorothy by the shrewd work of a very concerned but proud father who remembered the lure of fishing as a young boy himself. Later that night I found out I still wasn't out of the mess as my mother demanded that my father take me to the Pott's home and announce that Toby and I were really bad boys and should no longer be allowed to hang out together. After all going fishing instead of going to school was a very serious offense, such insubordination could lead to one to
end up in Alaska working in the oil field instead of having a good low paying
job in Wisconsin. Mr. Potts met us at the door and my father made the announcement that was drilled into him by my very angry mother. Ol' John said "Wait a minute Donny, these boys were simply being boys! They didn't
harm anyone, they simply went fishing. They are the best friends. We can't separate these too for something like fishing, that just wouldn't be right."Ol'John went on to say "I have no control over what goes on in your home and my son may not be welcome there over this going fishing incident but your boy is always welcome here!" My father then smiled and agreed and I knew then I was not going to lose my fishing partner despite my mother's objections. Yes I did graduate from high school and yes I did end up working in the oil field in Alaska. My advice to the kids going to school is that you really need to go to school.... plain and simple,
(most of the time). Stay in school and do your school work, they are very
important, however if you just brought along a little fishing line, some hooks, a few sinkers, a pack of cured fish eggs in your lunch, maybe if you escaped after roll call was taken...never mind.
See you next week!
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