“That’s Why They Made Arms…”, A Father’s Lesson

1951 Dad at Ptown

“Pardon me”, I mumbled, while stretching and reaching in front of a shopper more involved with a cell phone call than picking a yam and moving outta the damn way… (excuse my tone, but, yes, I was becoming impatient in a grocery store).

“It’s okay”, she replied curtly, “besides, that’s why they made arms.”

Regardless if it was sarcasm, naïveté, or simple courtesy, her reply completely disarmed me, no pun intended.

I had no retort except to sigh and smile, which was not a bad thing. If we all could be coy enough to react to interruptions and interferences with a bit of sugar-coated sarcasm, there would be fewer angry people.

My ‘old man’ (I never called him that, but it seemed to fit well here) was a hard worker in every sense, fishing being no exception. He would rouse us early from our warm bags and onto the water before sunrise and before the fish started feeding. We worked hard for the catch and ridiculed, even scorned, the late arriving boats, the ‘9 to 5ers’.

A late Spring morning found us fishing for striped bass in a small bay somewhere on the Cape Cod coast (fishermen never reveal exact locations). With anchor down and the morning fog burning off, we were surrounded by schools of stripers and enjoying water thumping hits every cast. The late arrival from a shoreline dock noticed us and slowly motored his skiff closer and closer, casting deeper and deeper into ‘our waters’, hoping to be part of the action, himself, but failing miserably.

You could see it coming, my dad’s tolerance level fading fast, beginning with icy glares over our bow and across the water at this intruder who was oblivious to the angler’s rule, ‘you don’t fish in another man’s water’.

I was impressed with his effort to maintain control and decorum, but not surprised when he dropped his rod, cupped his hands in a funnel around his mouth and delivered a bellowing invitation, dripping with sarcasm…

 “Why don’t you come closer?”

The gulls watched from a buoy, the water went glassy, the fish quit working. We were surrounded by silence, waiting.  And then, it came…

“Thanks, but I think it’s the lure!”

It was a classic mocking response,  deliberate and subtle.  My father was at a loss for words … but not action.

The ‘old salt’ grabbed the wheel with one hand, gunned the motor, spun the boat to roil the water and headed to shore. With the other hand, he reached upward and back toward the interloper, and with nary a glance, delivered the anglers’universal one finger response.*

I realized then, years before my grocery store episode…

That’s why they made arms!

Steve B

dedicated to ‘the old man’ who has filled my life with stories and lessons

*the writer does not approve this behavior, then or now…

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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

18 thoughts on ““That’s Why They Made Arms…”, A Father’s Lesson”

    1. Thank you Ida Beth. This was a bit of an odd story, jumping from a recent episode to way back in time. I hope I pulled the picture together. My point was to show the subtle, decent sarcasm people can use when responding to rudeness. Obviously, the subtlety was lost on my father. I laugh when I recall it. Don’t you love ‘buoys’?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can tell by the picture of him in the sand on some Cape Cod beach in the 50s, he was his own man who took things seriously. As a kid, I respected the dickens out of him. As an adult, I revered him. He was from a time when men were different. Yet, a gentle man. He would be as nice as he could be to that same ‘stranger’ if they met…ashore.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Steve I love how you juxtaposed the two events, it’s sad how rude my generation has become but I learnt something today-there is no reason to respond the same way-sometimes just being quiet and going about your merry life saves the day! Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story Steve and great way to start 2017! I had a feeling that picture was in Cape Cod, which is one of our favorite vacation spots growing up and to this day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Mike, and Happy New Year. Every weekend in Spring and late Summer, we were at the Cape fishing. My dad and four older brothers ‘owned’ the beaches in the 50s when it was primarily fishermen and sun worshippers. Then came the 60s and the place exploded. Caught lots of stripers & blues. Very crowded now. Glad you liked the story. More coming…


  3. I loved this! I was smiling all the way reading through it. I ❤ your writing!! I’m a fan.

    I just started taking writing seriously and doing something with it… but, i hope to be able to one day soon write like you.

    -an admirer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, what a nice compliment. I’m just a guy with a few stories about life trickling from my memory banks. I enjoy the challenge of writing. It’s especially rewarding when someone else likes them and tells me. Thank you so much. I’ll be looking for yours. (Steve)


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