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Grandpa Didn't Fly Fish

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

By Jon Osborn, (first appeared in Sporting Classics).

Born between the two Great Wars, Grandpa Floyd was the eldest son of Dutch

immigrants. Growing up on a dairy farm during the Great Depression, he seldom went hungry, but luxuries were few and far between. He’d wake before dawn to the impatient lowing of cattle and collapse into bed well after dark, moving to the predictable, pastoral rhythms of farm life.

With WWII looming on the horizon, any red-blooded American was expected to sacrifice

and chip in, familiar territory for country boys like him, but when the draft notice arrived in 1943, Floyd blanched with fear. He hadn’t ventured beyond the county line before. Then again, these trying times literally required “all hands on deck” and he embraced his patriotic duty without complaint.

For the next 18 months, Grandpa and the crew of the USS Venus played hide-and-seek

with Japanese submarines and Kamikaze planes in the Pacific. Before then, he’d secretly

longed for a break from the monotony of farming but after months at sea, mucking out the stalls wasn’t looking so bad. When the Axis powers finally surrendered to Allied Forces in 1945, Grandpa stepped off the ship for good. But he hardly settled into a life of ease; the rigors of farm life demanded round-the-clock attention, even if fishing sounded far more fun.

"He was always in the barn or out in the field," my mother remembers. "The only day he

rested was Sunday, and even then, the cows needed milking before church." In spite of his

demanding schedule, Grandpa rarely complained; offering a toothy grin and a cheerful response instead: "Fine and dandy, slick and handy, can't be beat," he’d always say.

Optimism can take a man a long way down the rocky road of life, but flat tires and speed