Speckled Beauties

In spring and summer, when my grandfather needed a break from the cows, he went fishing. His mother, Lydia Jane Hall, recorded some of his outings in her journals.

Saturday, May 24, 1913 – “Cloudy and Rainy. Ellsworth, John, and Edgar gone to Paug Pond fishing. Had extremely good luck – caught several large pickerel, the largest weighing over three pounds – enough fish for a dinner for three families. Never brought home so many before.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Wednesday, June 24, 1914 – “Damp foggy morning, very warm until toward evening, then a little cooler…Ellsworth and Agnes spending the day at Paug Pond fishing with John and Mabel. Came home with sunburned faces and few fishes.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Sunday, May 24, 1921 – “A fine day. Ellsworth went early this morning with John Leavenworth to spend the day in the fields by the trout stream…I have been sitting on the walk enjoying the works of nature. Henry, Ellen, Mother Norton, Norton Van Dyne, Jane, and John came to see us. Ellsworth and John home safely with the speckled beauties.” – Lydia Jane Hall

Ellsworth passed his love of fishing to his children. My mother loved to fish, and she was good at it. Her brother, my uncle Francis, must have loved it too.

Monday, May 5, 1924 – Francis has a new fish pole and has caught one fish – thinks he is smart.” Lydia Jane Hall

When my brother and I were young, we dug night-crawlers for bait and sat on the bank of the cow pond or at the edge of the reservoir to watch our red and white bobbers and wait for a bite. I remember hoping I would catch a speckled beauty and not a spiky bullhead. But the speckled beauty I remember best is the one kept in the cow trough near the bullpen.

The bull lived in a stall on the lower level of the barn. His presence dominated the space. I knew bulls were dangerous, and I had been warned to be careful, but I visited him anyway. I liked to look through the slats of the pen and watch the big ring in his nose shake as he snorted and stomped. Then I’d go back outside to visit the fish. Someone – maybe my grandfather or my uncle – kept a trout in the cold spring-fed water of the cow trough. I don’t know why the fish was there, and I’m sure it wasn’t always the same fish, but after the excitement of the bull, it calmed me to put my hand in the cold water and try to touch the fish as it swam around and around in its watery exile.

"Trout in the Cow Trough." Carol Crump Bryner, ipad painting, 2013

“Trout in the Cow Trough.” Carol Crump Bryner, ipad painting, 2013

On Monday:  The Front Door

7 thoughts on “Speckled Beauties

  1. Katy Gilmore

    Did the love of fishing come to a complete halt in your generation? Maybe your brother loves to fish? And, of course, your hubby! (Do you think the fish was in storage? For a meal?)

    1. Carol Post author

      I think it maybe came to a halt. And the fish in the trough always seemed to have a pet status. But it was very possibly being kept for a meal.

  2. Donna

    I luv this ! It brings back memories of Billy & me fishing the brook in back of our house in Vernon. The brook was a branch of the Hockanum River …I luv the fish pic. How did you ever draw a pic on your cell phone, you’re absolutely amazing 🙂 Carol. Perhaps when we meet in Ct. we can go fishing 🙂 bring your pole along 🙂 Although the fish isn’t fit to eat.
    luv x & o your cuzin’ Donna

  3. Mike Foster

    What wonderful , evocative stories! There are so many things to respond to, and several questions raised. I love thinking about Paug Pond as a destination for a summer outing, as alluded to earlier, and as a fishing retreat. (When did it become the town reservoir?) A three pound pickerel was a prize that my friend and neighbor, Bill Tresselt,and I dreamed about when we looked at that pristine water surrounded by the chain link fence, off limits to protect the water supply. A few times we were brave enough to sneak down with our poles, trying to evade Mr. Pogmore, the water company employee who guarded the res. We were told that if we were caught, he would confiscate our poles and we would be in “big trouble”. On one of these clandestine forrays we peeked into the water company house near the southern end. The guys had all their fishing equipment lined up, and a small rowboat down at the shore. We concluded that they had a fine private fishing hole. I never caught that pickerel or any of the speckled beauties that Ellsworth and John brought home to stock the barn trough. What a wonderful place to grow up, where you could sneak a peek at an edgy bull and then find a beautiful trout in clear, cold water, waiting to become dinner.

    1. Carol Post author

      I’m not sure when Paug Pond became a reservoir. But I would have loved to be there before that happened. Must have been beautiful. And I’ve never seen a pickerel. I remember Mr. Pogmore vaguely. Or at least his name. Thanks as always Mike, for your enlightening comments.

  4. Patti Hall Burkett

    Our more recent Aunt Lydia loved to fish. I remember visiting her soon after she remarried Orville Beard and they lived on Lake Lemon in southern Indiana and going fishing was what we did. Also up on Lake Tomahawk in Wisconsin. I had assumed she did it to join in Beardie’s passion–but now wonder if it was more hers than his!

    1. Carol Post author

      That’s so interesting about Aunt Lydia. Did your dad like to fish too? Somehow I don’t picture him fishing, but I could be wrong.


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