Makes me remember…

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a cookout at our house. We invited three other families in our neighborhood – all with kids. In total I think there were 8 adults and 10 kids. I was the maestro at the grill! Cooking hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, metts, and brats all at the same time. It really was an impressive sight to behold

After everyone had eaten, all of the adults gathered in the kitchen for some small talk. Somehow the conversation turned to the movie Field of Dreams. The 1980s classic starring Kevin Costner. The movie centers around the sport of baseball, and one of the guys at our home that night is a big baseball fan. In fact he got a college scholarship to play baseball.

David is a good guy. Easy going, appreciates a good joke and has a very sentimental edge to him. While on the subject of Field of Dreams, his wife noted that there is a scene in the movie (towards the end I believe) where Costner is tossing ball with his deceased dad. This scene always moves David to tears because his dad would come home every night and play catch with him. Even though his dad wasn’t much of a baseball fan. This fond memory is etched in David’s mind forever. It is lodged in that area of the brain that brings us legitimate happiness. I wondered if his dad is aware just how much joy those hours of playing catch meant to his son?

That night I got to thinking. What was my “Field of Dream moment” with my father. What sound, smell, scene…takes me back to a happy time. Then I realized – I was in the middle of it – summertime.

My father and I spent countless hours fishing during hot summer evenings. Those humid, muggy evenings where no air is moving. Even the fishing stream (often Todd Fork in Morrow) would sit still because the water was so low. I recalled the joy of him letting me venture off by myself to find a better fishing hole up stream (which usually resulted in my getting my legs chewed up by a weed called nettle or being the like discoverer of the largest swarm of mosquitoes in SW Ohio).

We weren’t good fishermen. We tried like the dickens, but our catch was usually measured in ounces, not pounds. I would sometimes catch more tree limbs than fish. But dad was cool with it. He would usually find someway to get my line undone while I used his fishing pole to catch….nothing.

Some point during the evening I would usually fall down on the mass of rocks that made up the creek bed. This portly elementary school kid would at of course be reduced to tears. River rocks on the right butt cheek don’t feel good.

This fisherman’s diet was usually a bag of Funyons and Pepsi…..don’t judge.

But what I vividly remember most is the sound of Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall. There was nothing like Reds baseball on radio. Even though the mid-80s were not kind to Reds fans, the sound of Marty and Joe still had a way of getting you to tune in. My dad had a small black transistor radio that we would use to fill the air at Todd Fork with the call of the game. I would always listen more intently when Mario Soto was pitching. It could be August, the Reds could be 15 games out of first place, but we had to listen to the game.

Once fishing was over, we’d load up the truck, hop in and tune to 700WLW. And listen to the game all the way home. Which often included a stop at UDF.

A few years ago, my dad and I took a small road trip to visit some of our old fishing holes. A lot has changed in Morrow over the past 2-1/2 decades. The drive out 22-3 isn’t as rural as it once was. The bait shop we would stop at in Foster is long gone. As for the fishing hole, a good portion of the flow has been rerouted to prevent soil erosion near the road. Across the stream was a cleared off area where people do some night fishing now. The small tributary to the right is bone dry. Doesn’t look like water has flowed down it in a long time. The pull off we would park at was grown over with weeds and dense brush. Though for the most part it was the same – it still wasn’t 1984

But like David who recalls those years of tossing ball with his dad, I will always be able to recall the hours that add to days, that add to weeks of fishing in that small town in Warren County. No worries other than doing my homework when I got home, and making sure I took a bath first thing.

Joe Nuxhall left us in 2007. I am confident he now resides in the Kingdom. My dad is still alive and still roots for the Reds – who believe it or not are 15 games out of first place.

I am sure David will someday watch Field of Dreams with his son and explain that particular scene. Maybe he still owns the glove he had as a child. My son is 6 and someday during a trip back home I will take him to Morrow, to the same creek, to the some part of the bank, and explain it to him.

todds fork


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