He was ten years old in the fall of 1938 and they lived in a little coal-mining camp of no more than forty houses. Back then and in that place kids didn’t even know what folding money looked like. His fishing equipment consisted of a six-foot long hickory branch, a length of braided line that he kept wrapped around the top of the pole like a black cocoon, and a hook.
He and the neighbor boy, who was a year older, would wade barefoot into the river shoal and let their baits drift down the current until they dropped into the blue hole below. Then they would stand still and watch as the cool water ran around their legs. They would talk and laugh and at times just stand there silently. It almost never failed if you waited long enough. There would be a quick, hard tug on the line and in moments one of the boys would have a sparkling catfish or bass flopping on the muddy riverbank.
The boys were friends this way. For years it went on so simply until the coal seam was worked out and the mines closed and the families went their separate ways.