Thursday, August 20, 2009


I have my Dad's tackle box. Well, I have his first tackle box. When we moved to Florida in 1981 he bought a great big plastic tackle box with six fold-out shelves. But the one I have is the one he had and used from 1936, when he was nine years old, until he bought the big plastic one in Florida. It's little, and made of steel. It only has one fold out shelf but that's enough for me. I don't know what color it was originally, but sometime in the 1950s or 1960s my brother, Ken painted it silver.

My Dad's Dad was a lead and zinc miner around their town (I've mentioned this before.), and he loved to fish. He and my dad would sit up all night long and fish during the summers. Well, when my Dad was 9, his Dad took him down to the hardware store in their little town of Commerce and bought him this tackle box I have.

When my Dad gave me the tackle box back in 2003, or maybe 2004 it was all rusty, so I painted it with silver Rustoleum, to match the color it had been during my childhood. A couple of days later I was over at his apartment in the assisted living community, and I told him I painted it and he began to talk about his Dad. And he started crying. His talking about his Dad that day, made me love someone I had never met, who had died decades before I was born. From that day, I've had it in my mind to go to Commerce and see the hardware store where he bought my Dad the tackle box. I'd like to see the place. But I looked on the map and there are no hardware stores in Commerce anymore.

While looking at the map I noticed something and remembered a story my Mom told. Route 66 though Commerce, Oklahoma is called Micky Mantle Blvd. Back in the late 1950s or early 1960s my parents were on their way to one of their denomination's biennial conventions in Joplin, Missouri. And, as the song says, the road between Joplin and L.A. was Route 66. So my parents and all the other preachers from Southern California had to drive through my Dad's hometown.

As my parents drove into town they saw the familiar sign over the road: "Commerce, Oklahoma. Home of Mickey Mantle." But this time the sign was longer. One of the other preachers had got there first added "& B.J. Karnes" to it.

I loved hearing them tell the stories of their early life together. I know from my older siblings that those years were not as rosy as my parents remembered. But I think there is a good example there, too. When I am old will I want to look back and remember hard times and sadness? What kind of old man will I be if at 70 I am bearing grudges from my 20s? I think I only want to remember the good things.

Anyway, I have a tackle box.

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