Most folks out in the country are a generous and helping hand kind of people. They like to accommodate others whenever they can, and usually do. Accordingly, in time past, most country folk who owned a farm or pond would let anyone fish or hunt whenever they wished. This had always been the way it was but times changed.
It seems folks got to suing anyone over the least little thing, trying to get a little “sue money”, as it is called. Tales went around of people losing their farm or home because someone got hurt while hunting or fishing on their land. These tales were not lost on my neighbor, Squire Fussell, a man to whom fishing is a religion and any increase in the price of fish bait a topic of grave concern.
Squire came to me all in a tizzy about what to do to keep people from fishing in his pond. Actually, the lake in question did not belong to him but he was tending the farm upon which the lake was located and took it on himself to be a sort of self styled game warden. He was concerned for the farm owner and said he needed to figure how to put a stop to folks fishing before one of them got hurt and sued the owner. “What would you do?” he asked me.
“Where are they fishing?” I asked.
“Right there where the water backs up to the hard road”, he replied.
This presented a problem because the folks would stand on the highway right of way and pitch their hook into a small but deep neck of water which backed right up to the road. I told him to see a lawyer.
Squire took my advice and went to see his nephew, Curtis, an attorney of some renown, but most importantly whose advice was free. Curtis told him there was little that could legally be done and that Squire should use his imagination to stop this fishing but not do anything to “get in trouble.”
“What did he mean by that?” Squire asked of me, as he relayed every word Curtis told him. Squire usually came to me to get a second opinion, or, in other words, to turn lawyer talk, whether free or hard bought, into plain country language. I saw my opening.
“He means to do something so those folks won’t want to fish there any more and to not get caught doin’ it.”
He came up with a good idea. He took two old sets of bedsprings and placed them in the fishing hole deep enough they couldn’t be seen. The very next day a deuce and a quarter with a bundle of poles lashed to the side pulled up and unloaded. An old Granny and a gang of young’uns baited up and started throwing their lines out.
Squire came along about thirty minutes later and drove up to the fishing party. There were more corks and bobbers of all shapes, forms and descriptions in the water than you can shake a stick at, none of them any longer attached to a pole. The bed springs had worked to a “solo”, as Uncle Dan would put it, for each time a hook went down through the springs, there was no way on earth to pull it back up without hanging and breaking the fishing line.
The old Granny spit a half pint of Navy Sweet snuff juice and snorted, “Dey’s sump’n down ‘dere ‘dat ain’t used to be ‘dere. I don’t know what it is but we is leavin’ here. We done los’ all our stuff.”
Squire waded out every few days and gathered the corks. A new crop would appear but they became fewer and fewer over time until, finally, the fishing ceased.
Mission accomplished and no one got in trouble because no one got caught doing it. Thanks, Curtis.