My Uncle Stephen passed away Friday the 10th of June about a month shy of his 99th birthday. I always felt a special bond with Uncle Steve because I was named after him. I think he’s the only person to ever call me “Stevie” on a regular basis. He was born 14 July 1917 and served in the Navy during WWII on the LST 696 in the Pacific. Here’s a picture of him and the crew. He’s in the bottom row, second from the right:
I always equate Uncle Steve with the outdoors and especially fishing. My favorite Uncle Steve fishing story goes like this:
We were in Maine on MCGrath Pond fishing; Uncle Steve, Aunt Dot, my father, my brother Bill and myself. My brother and I were very young and I don’t think we’d ever been on a boat fishing before. I *know* we had never baited a hook before, at least not with a worm.
We’re city kids, we don’t know how to do this stuff.
Anyway, Bill must have been all of 4 0r 5 at the time and was sitting next to Uncle Steve who was baiting his hook for him. Uncle Steve tells him to put the line over the side and cast. My brother just puts the tip of the rod over the edge of the boat and pushes the thumb release to let the line go – no cast – just PLOP in the water. The adults chuckle because there’s no way he’s going to get a fish. Uncle Steve then starts getting his line ready but before he’s done my brother says, “Hey Uncle Steve, I think I have a fish!’ The line has been in the water at most 45 seconds. Uncle Steve says, “No Billy, you can’t have a fish on there yet” but then catches sight of the tip of Bill’s fishing pole dipping. He takes the pole from my brother, reels it in and sure enough, there’s a fish! Everyone laughs, Uncle Steve grumbles a bit that he hasn’t even got his pole in the damn water yet, and bait’s Bill’s pole again. Bill puts it over the side, presses the thumb release again and PLOP the line is in the water.
Uncle Steve then starts getting his gear together again. 30 seconds later my brother says, “Uncle Steve, I think I have a fish!” All I hear is “Jesus H. Christ, there’s no WAY you have another fish on there.” Sure enough though he sees the pole dip again, takes it, and helps Bill reel in another fish. “Jesus H. Christ, I haven’t even got my line in the water once yet and Billy has caught two damn fish already.”, he says. I don’t think we caught another fish all day.
Here’s one of my favorite pictures of Uncle Steve