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Most of the time while writing this column I like to look back to my days as a youth and reflect on those times. The other day as I was shopping I happened to bump into Jim Foley, an old friend whom I have known pretty much all my life. He said that I often write about the things we did as kids and how it seemed like those times were much simpler and more laid back. I have to agree with him wholeheartedly because as kids we didn’t have a lot of electronics or even organized sports for that matter that stood in the way of our just being kids.

Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, we would make our own entertainment and create our own fun. There were no video games or schedules we had to follow. There were many times when I’d hurry home from Hammer School to quickly change, hop on my bike and head to Jim’s house. Jim lived on a farm just a ways east of the tracks on Hammer Road. We’d usually play in the hay barn, explore the creek or, on days when we were feeling brave, we’d harass the sheep until the ram had enough and would chase us off before Jim’s Dad caught us.

Whenever we’d get into trouble there were no “time outs” because we were subject to spankings or, if you swore at my house, you had to wash your mouth out with soap —  which only happened to me one time. I was a quick learner and discovered early on I didn’t like the taste of an Ivory bar. I don’t remember being in trouble a lot, but when I did it was my mom that handed out the punishment. She would make me go and get the yard stick and with the spanking came the story of her having to go out to the willow tree and pick her own branch with which to get a spanking. That story never made it hurt any less, but I believe I did find a lesson in her words; I guess it was the “reap what you sow” thing.

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and, with another one in the books, we can now turn our focus on Christmas. This Thanksgiving reminded me of a time when my cousin Bill Christensen and his wife Cleo lived in Conger. We had gone there for Thanksgiving and after dinner Cleo’s Cousin Dennis and I took my folks’ car and went driving around the countryside. I don’t know why I remember that particular Thanksgiving so vividly, but I recall it being very cold and sunny and there was no snow on the ground. Maybe it stood out to me because it wasn’t the typical Thanksgiving when we would go to my Uncle Harvey and Aunt Ruby’s, which was right next door to our house.

Looking back on those days, I realize we could never host Thanksgiving or Christmas because our house was just too small. Christmas on my mother’s side was always “up at the farm” which wasn’t very far away either. We called it the farm because it was where my mother, Aunt Ruby and Uncle Orv grew up. The old farmhouse still stands just south of Hammer Road, but I have no idea who lives there now.

Getting back to Thanksgiving; just a few years ago Bob Hillman, my old neighbor, called to tell me about the good luck he’d had while fishing on Thanksgiving Day. While he was driving home from church he had passed over a bridge on the Shellrock River; it was an unusually nice, warm, sunny day so he decided to try a little fishing. He went home, changed, grabbed his fishing gear and headed back to that bridge. In a matter of an hour or so he had taken his limit of nice walleye and he decided to share that story with me.

There are times when a person can spend weeks planning a fishing trip and it will never turn out as good as one that just happens on a whim. This holds true for a lot of things that happen on the spur of the moment.

MUSKY TALK

The December meeting of Cross Roads Chapter 54, of Muskies Inc. will be held on Wed. December 4 instead of the regular meeting date of the 11th at Eagles Club in Owatonna, at 7 p.m. (due to schedule conflict) Our program is, 'Favorite Trip' night. It includes where, when, and what worked and a recap of 2013 musky season with lots of musky talk!

Our regular meetings are the second Wednesday of each month and includes informative speakers, updates, door prizes and a raffle. You need not be a member to attend! Bring a friend and help improve musky fishing in Southern Minnesota.

Until next time, be careful when venturing out on the thin ice. It’s always time well spent when you spend it in our great Minnesota outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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