Fish On

Our GTWoman Mar-April cover is a tribute to Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon representing women working in the factories during World War II. While we didn’t live through WWII, we did live through being raised by a farmboy from the Yoop. And we’d like to take this chance to offer up a few of our own Rosie the Riveter stories.

Our father raised us to get our hands dirty and to spend a Saturday night… fishing. Here are a few of the things Dad did that led to our prize-winning work ethic and fingernail strength: Kandy has a vivid memory of sitting in subzero weather in the polebarn helping Dad put studs in his snowmobile track.

Her job? 1) To hold the tube of LocTite adhesive. 2) To hand him the LocTite at the precise moment of stud application, cap off. 3) And to not, under any circumstances, look, call, pet or reach for a cat walking through the barn.

This, we feel, is a great segue into our fascination with cats. What drove our dad through the roof never quicker was a cat in the middle of a project. Mauling Farlie, Bingo, P.T. or Tigger anywhere near a lube gun, LocTite thread sealer or freshly mixed epoxy was on par with subterfuge. For, just when he urgently needed our help with something sticky or messy or tricky, we’d be covered in pet hair.

Kandy’s memory also includes wearing a snowmobile suit the size of Kentucky, mittens bigger than her head and a pair of boots built for the moon. She could barely move, let alone hold a small tube of LocTite, cap off.

But, worse, to her father’s utter disbelief, she was still cold. He would quiz her every 10 minutes about it, hoping against hope that she wasn’t a total girl under all that nylon. And each time, he would turn back to his snowmobile with bare hands and sweat on his brow, warning her not to pet the cat.

This translated into Kandy’s unerring ability to work in huge layers of clothing, at any temperature, without a cat. Luckily, she spends most of her time indoors with a cat on her lap. But, thanks to Dad, she knows what she’s capable of when she takes the cap off.

Next up: Fishing with Dad. This doesn’t seem like a work ethic instiller. But if you ever fished with our Dad, you’d know it was. Because he went to succeed. Not to swim off the back of the boat, not to sightsee and certainly not to suntan.

And so at the crack of dawn on any given weekend during Salmon season, we would be called to duty a full hour or two before daybreak. The cooler would be packed the night before and likewise, we would get dressed the night before: tucked into bed in sweatpants, long johns and, again, the nylon.

Once on the boat, we were to stand at attention. The slightest dip in the rod resulted in “FISH ON!” being sounded throughout the boat. This was usually the time one or both of us were reading a very, very, very good book, sleeping like all the normal people in the world, or thinking about killing each other.

Because of this, Dad usually had first dibs on every fish ever caught because he was the only one who saw it on the line. This, we suppose, taught us to be kind to others and give them a chance to rip a tripped fishing pole from the holder first.

Fishing with Dad taught us two more things about work ethic: 1) The importance of dressing for success and, when necessary, a snowmobile suit for a July dawn on Lake Michigan; and 2) The importance of keeping your eye on the line through to the end. (Sidenote: We also learned an alarming number of ways to unhook a fish from the line while trying to net it when it was finally within reach, and once, in our father’s hands.)

We’re only sorry we don’t have more room to write here about the crazy, funny things Dad did that taught us about work ethic that means showing up on time, dressing for the job and following through to the end, even if you don’t always catch the fish!