Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My friend Mr. Adams and My dog Lucy

Mr. Adams was 84 when I met him. Others called him by his first name, Roy, but I called him Mr. Adams. I was 24, living in a garage apartment right off the ocean in a small beach town in Florida. He lived with his daughter, Kay, and son in law, John, in the house in front. Although their house was big and lovely, their yard was dark and shady. My side of the property got all the sun. Mr. Adams liked to bring his lawn chair and sit outside of my apartment, one hand holding his book, always a western, the other hand placed lovingly, absentmindedly on my dog Lucy. They’d sit that way for hours, Lucy and Mr. Adams, his reading interrupted by dozing or by our conversations. He’d tell me about is life in Huntington, West Virginia. He’d lived his entire life there before being transplanted by his daughter to their newly-found retirement area. He obviously missed his home. He’d been a mechanic. His wife, who he spoke about lovingly, had been dead for many years. He was a quiet man, and I think a lonely man.

Although I fished at the beach almost daily for my dinner, having learned from Kay how to cast and hook clams and dig for sand crabs, Mr. Adams wasn’t into that kind of fishing. He wanted to go the inlet where the snook and other big fish could be snagged. Real fishing. So he and I got up early one morning for our fishing trip. Sebastian Inlet was about a twenty miles away and Mr. Adams insisted on driving. It was a harrowing ride. He wasn’t much for braking. Heavy foot on the gas. No use for stop signs. Full speed ahead. It was a bit unnerving, but there wasn’t much traffic in the area. It probably wasn't life threatening. It just felt that way.

When we got to the inlet Mr. Adams drove, not the part where the big fish were, but to a quiet, protected, sleepy little area where the water lapped gently up on the shore. He took his lawn chair out of the trunk, settled in and opened a can of Vienna sausage, piercing each one using his pocketknife for a fork. I fished. He sat. I caught a few pompano, beautiful white fish with a pale yellow stripe. They’d make a delicious dinner. Mr. Adams sat in his lawn chair. He ate pickled eggs and pickled pigs feet. He gazed. I don’t think he ever baited a hook.

3 comments:

Leon said...

Maybe he didn't bait a hook but by going "fishing" with him, no matter how harrowing the ride, you performed a mitzvah!

Judith Shapiro said...

Thanks Leon. I hope you're right.

Alice said...

Can you divulge the name of the little town in Florida? I grew up in northcentral Florida, and used to ramble about the state except for the panhandle. I love the quiet and wonderful way you speak about Mr. Adams. It's a lovely memory.