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  • Almost 20 years ago since I last went fishing with my brother Gary. He is an avid trout fisherman and belongs to a group from his work that call themselves the TFB’s, which of course stands for Trout fishing buddy’s…or not. I was lucky enough to get an invite back then to join them on their annual trip to Bennett Springs Missouri for a catch and release weekend. I was living in Florida, so it was an adventure complete with a plane ride from hell. As we approached St. Louis it looked like an adaptation of a Steven King novel. The sky was purple and pink and clouds looked like they were in a circle ready to suck us in. We rocked and rolled and grown men tried to look blasé while the women clutched at them and the children. Now I’m a seasoned traveler and earned my spurs watching flames shoot out of the old prop planes engines during overnight flights. But even I was a little nervous and hoped we wouldn’t pop the tires slamming into the runway.

    I have to digress and tell you that my son-in-law, Mike was also invited and was flying in from Wisconsin at the same time. Now Mike had only flown once before when they flew down to Florida for our wedding six months before this. So I knew he would be nervous. His connecting flight was cancelled and they rushed around to get him on a different airline going to St. Louis. As an apology, they gave him free drinks. Sounds good in theory, but they had to pour him off the plane.

    After I finally made it down, my brother and I were trying to find what flight they had put him on. As a matter of policy, the airlines are not allowed to give that information out. But the supervisor took pity on our situation and without saying he was on a flight told us to go wait at a gate. I was really concerned that Mike would be traumatized by the bad weather flight, but when we found him, he was feeling no pain.

    So we collected our luggage and made our way to Gary’s truck. We weren’t even out of the parking lot before Mike was sleeping it off. Now Mike and I were riding on the cuff, as it were of the TFB’s. They had all pitched in a lot of money to rent a cabin and buy all the food and booze for the weekend. We were the “deadbeat brutha’ and company”. They even supplied us with fishing waders and all the other equipment. A lotta nice, fun guys in that bunch, but don’t call them that. They have reputations to uphold!

    We didn’t catch a lot of fish that weekend, but we did have fun. Mike, who isn’t very tall, was upstream from me and tried crossing the river. He lost his footing and started floating downstream, keeping his pole and waders as high as he could. I grabbed him as he floated by and got him uprighted. I heard a cry from the other bank saying, “throw him back. He’s too small to keep.” Like I said, fun guys.

    The reason we didn’t catch much is that the water was in flood stage that season and the rains kept coming down. On the days that the rain was too much to go out in, we stayed In the cabin and played poker…and drank Root Beer floats. Now their Root Beer floats are different than the ones you can get at Dog&Suds. First off they use Stag beer instead of Root Beer. You take a shot glass with Root Beer Schnapps and place it in the center of a cocktail glass. You then fill the cocktail glass up to the rim of the shot glass with Stag beer. Slam it back and it actually tastes like a Root Beer float going down. Play a couple hands of poker and then “float time”.

    Poor Mike didn’t make it past two rounds of floats. We walked over him all night long going to the bathroom and back to the main room. The guys finally put him in the bed before we called it a night. The next day we told Mike he had alcohol poisoning and wouldn’t allow him to have any more floats. So he did more fishing than the rest of us. All in all, we had a great time with a lot of fond memories.

    Watercolor is from my brother Gary Nadeau, just emailed to me this morning.
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