fly-fishingI shared the “Bobber Story” with clan members recently, and several reported that they chuckled when they read it.

Later, a frown formed on my face, and I wondered if I had made a mistake in repeating the story that I discovered while sorting through piles of “stuff” as I prepare to shuffle off this mortal coil, i.e. walk into the sunset.

First, the story:


She had never been fishing, but told Willie she loved to fish so that she could spend some time with him.

He was happy to find a woman who appreciated his obsession with fishing gear, bait and water temperature.

When they arrived at Willie’s favorite fishing spot, the fish weren’t biting, but Lucy didn’t care. The sun was shining, and the water lapped gently at the sides of the boat. To be with Willie was all that mattered.

After an hour of listening to his fishing stories, Lucy said, “Willie, you know that red-and-white thing you put on my line?”

“You mean the bobber?” he replied.

“Yeah, how much did it cost?

“About 50 cents.”

“Well,” Lucy said, “then I owe you 50 cents because mine just sank.”


After sharing that story, I realized that I might be criticized for holding a woman up to ridicule. Had I overstepped the ever-tightening circle of political and social correctness? Probably so in the minds of some of my readers.

Which reminded me that I once shared fly-fishing experiences with a woman I met for the first time during a party in Central Oregon.

“How long have you been a fly-fisherman?” I asked innocently.

After she lectured me for several minutes, I changed my vocabulary and now refer to anyone who fly-fishes as a fly-fisher.

So, if anyone objects to my use of a woman as the foil in the bobber story, I apologize and henceforth will refer to that person as a non-fisher.


I have been discarding “stuff” for a half dozen years in preparation for a move to an old-folks home. Occasionally I run onto something that puts a smile on my face like a story that appeared in the Nov. 18, 1967, issue of Publishers’ Auxiliary.

It was in a file of “jokes” that I occasionally read to students in my classes because I am not a teller of jokes. I forget the punch line.th

This joke was in the form of a story reporting an error that had appeared in a classified advertisement published by the Rocky Mountain News in Denver in 1967.

The newspaper article read, “With the terrific volume that Rocky Mountain News handles, it’s amazing there aren’t more errors made” and continued:

“Thankfully, we haven’t yet had a string of errors like the one recently made by a small daily newspaper in the south.” It started with the following ad on Monday: Continue reading WHY WOULD MY STUDENTS FIND THIS JOKE FUNNY?


I often carried a metal suitcase with me as I entered the classroom midway through the term while teaching newspaper reporting to university students.

It was the same suitcase I carried with me while covering breaking news events during my earlier career as a weekly and daily newspaper reporter. I became a “quick change artist”suitcase when I had to shed the suit, white shirt and black tie for clothing more suited for chasing what is referred to as a “breaking story.”

I made no comment about the suitcase as I worked with as many as 16 students who gathered information and wrote news and feature stories during the twice-a-week, three-hour classroom exercises.

Normally it didn’t take long for some student to inquire about the suitcase.

“Oh, I though you’d never ask,” I would say, reminding them to never hesitate to question everything, especially the presence of a metal suitcase.

I would then open the suitcase and begin picking and showing items that I could use if I were assigned to cover a story that took me to a fire, to an accident scene, into the woods, up a mountain, down a river, etc.

First, I would pick a pair of gloves from the suitcase and comment on their obvious value when walking outdoors in freezing weather. Then a wool shirt, a pair of trousers, red long-underwear, a swimsuit (in the event I had to spend a night at a motel with a swimming pool), a pair of boots, a cap, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a box of matches.

Finally, I held aloft a roll of toilet paper.

This normally triggered smiles and some snickers.

I would then grab the loose end and toss the roll of toilet paper to some student. Almost without exception that would trigger a “paper party” that left the classroom in a mess.

Today, I probably would be reprimanded — or fired — for initiating and encouraging such merriment, but I figured that learning should be fun for the students as well as for the professor.

Years later I heard from one of my former students who said he carried a suitcase like mine when he became a reporter.

“Unfortunately,” he wrote, “I forget to include a roll of toilet paper.”


sweetheartsI thought I was the last person on Earth, and then I heard a knock on the door.

“Dang,” I said aloud. “Who could that be?”

Who expects an intrusion when you’re all alone in the world and when you’re thinking about Annabelle Lee? As I’ve told you repeatedly, I met Annabelle Lee quite by chance while I was in the sixth grade, and we have been friends forever.

At least that’s the way I remember it.

I also recall that Annabelle Lee taught me how to kiss. Not the peck-on-the-cheek or slightly-on-the-lips way. I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but we kissed a lot. Continue reading ANNABELLE LEE