The Fishing Hole
By Bill Shepard
Lines from one of my favorite songs go like this….
“All that I can see ahead is the winding of the road, and the rainbow I’ll be chasin keeps on moving before I find my pot of gold. More and more I keep thinking that the only treasure that I’ve ever known is long ago and far away, wrapped up in my memories of home.
Home was a fishing hole and a fishing pole and the feel of a muddy road between my toes. Home was…… ”
It remains a mystery to me even to this day, that no matter how close to a body of water a fellow lives, his favorite fishing place is miles away! Of course, this writer is an exception to that rule. I spent all of my youthful years in almost a good hand-throw distance of my favorite fishing hole, Swift Creek! I doubt that you could find anyone that fished up and down the banks of that little stream more than little Marion Lee, (now deceased) and myself. Every year, just as sure as the month of May ended and school was out for the summer, little Marion and I would begin fishing in Swift Creek. We both lived a short distance from where the creek follows its path through the old mill village, cutting it in half!
As a boy I listened to older men on the village talk about going to places far away from the village to catch fish. They would name places that I had never seen and most I had never heard of! Places like Black Creek, Pee Dee River, Lynches River, were a few that would be spoken of. I had been to Black Creek a time or two but the others always left me imagining what they were like. I couldn’t believe that any had more to offer than the little stream that flowed nearby!
It wasn’t unusual to see Marion and me sitting by the stream fishing when folk who worked the morning shift at the mill were passing by, 6:00 am or before!
The little stream, in those days, was home to an abundance of small pan-fish and I could catch a stringer full on any day. Of course I would put them on my stringer if they had two eyeballs and a tail! On occasion, I would carry my own little frying pan along and cook some right where I caught them.
“Now you know the story behind the poem.
The Old Fishing Hole
by Bill Shepard
By a slow moving creek in my home town,
Boys would come from miles around,
With a crooked cane pole and a black flax line,
We’d cross the bank in the summer time.
School was out on the last day of May,
In between chores there would be time for play,
With a can of worms and a cane fishing pole,
We’d all head down to the old fishing hole.
When I was a boy many hours were spent,
Finding much pleasure and it didn’t cost a cent,
And I don’t regret now that I’m old,
The time I spent at the fishing hole.
The slow moving still flows along,
But beside its banks there isn’t a throng,
For times have changed the boys that be,
And they’re all at home…. watching TV.
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.
His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C. 29673.