Thirteen years ago I built a dock with cousins. This year’s dock is my last, uno over, no mas, caputio, last forever to build. Promise—

building the dock 13 years ago.

The reunion of our families happened again this year, and in a big way. First, though, there was lots for me to get ready for the crowd. Me? I hoped to fish, fish, fish during the eight days lead time I had until the reunion start day plus some other stuff done—like covering our aging dock in plywood sheets to steal one more year out of the structure—

I arrived to an empty camp…

And thought about the picture I’d had taken of me while holding a shot of my dad sitting before a fireplace when he was in college some zillion, light-years ago.

I thought about the fishing I’d get done before the gang arrived…

This shot is from 2012. Not a bad night in Mud Lake.

2008

hmmm forget date,,thought it was on picture.

I’ve caught a number of good fish over time but the monsters usually come years apart. This year was different.

It took Thursday evening and most of Friday for me to ready camp before I could venture out across the Lake and ‘test’ the waters at about 6 P.M.

Boom, as pictured in the previous glob, the big ones hit.

I stepped off the boat and about promptly fell thru the dock to my hip/.

My right leg was bruised from calf to upper thigh, and those marks would take twenty days to almost vanish—It seemed after inspection that topping the dock for the reunion was a no go, and I’d have to replace the entire dock before 49 people including 21 children showed up in a week’s time.

The official estimate to replace the dock was 7 thousand, so I bought 2 grand worth of lumber and rallied with friends, Randy, Brain and Tony to get her done. I spent two days ripping up old dock boards and hauling the wood laden with nails away for safe keeping to a burn pile. Then, Randy showed me a better way to remove the boards-rather than plying them up one by one, he cut the heck out of them first so the small boards could be sledge hammered up and off.

Three days later we had about 2/3 of the lumber in place for use to build the new dock and tools in hand.  Dock work is tough in and out of the water work, and dangerous. Tony took a broken piling steel cable into his leg, but he’d just gotten a tetanus shot so he carried on. My leg hurt but so does life. It was the third day as I walked on an old beam we’d all used as we moved docking boards when it gave out under me. I fell like a stone and hit a piling timber with my ribs. My guess was I’d fractured a rib or three….but what can you do with that? Nothing. I steadied to realize I could breathe, move with pain but not danger. The job went on, but from that moment on I couldn’t use my left side for strength, and resembled a snail on dry land while working, especially when hauling my butt in or out of the water.

The job took 135 man hours, (65 of mine)and some long days-Randy worked one 13 hour one day by my side. We  sorta finished—all but for one hundred top deck screws I did later—exactly one half day before my grand children arrived and one and 1/2 days before 49 relatives came.

We had the most glorious week for the reunion…and all the while I remained thankful the weather had held for us dock workers the previous week. Up there at Bonaparte, bad weather can stop everything for a day or two if it decides to.

It came time for everyone to leave and I dropped my grand kids and wife off at Utica for the train with another day and one half left to fish–at last…..Ha;hahahaha…. not.

For some reason I thought my dock injuries were done?!!? Yeah, so my last night there I hit Mud lake only to have the sky dump rain on my head as I raced back to the dock. Once there, I notice an umbrella had been turned over all the while of the reunion. If only I’d realized the one dock board with nails I hadn’t removed was secretly hidden beneath that umbrella’s fallen top. I lifted that umbrella top to right the stand, the board slipped off the upright and landed a 16 penny old, rusty nail into the top of my ankle.

Think Mash (tv show) when I pulled that nail out of my ankle…I ran up 48 steps to wash out the wound and get a towel to soak up the blood… ten minutes of pressure and a first aid kit later I raced to local medical center room but it was closed. I headed back to the lake and noticed the sky had cleared and hobbled down to go fish again…(clearly, I’m a fisherman with a huge problem, doctor.) In truth, the real pain didn’t set in for about two hours. Once I returned to camp, I realized I was in the worst pain I’d ever felt. A relative got me to Carthage hospital for x-rays, antibiotics, and pain killers.

I was resting in bed by four A.M. wondering what I might have caught this year if fate didn’t hate me.

So now,,,almost a week later, I’m home, working, recovering as the swelling and pain are subsiding. Dang it, if I’d only gotten to fish more.

Here’s to docks everywhere–they are a pain in the butt to build. Dock nails can go to hell and if you catch a big fish this year at Bonaparte that was the one I would’ve had if only…..Nah, actually, it’s all good. I loved building the dock with the guys; I’ll fish next year and not fall thru it!

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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