John D. Bridgers M.D.
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Chapter 13 - Fishing

"Crick" was the sportsman of the family -- he and Ruth frequently golfed and he hunted and fished.

But when it came to fishing he was one among many.

"Big Dave," Daddy and several of The Reflector work-force were hung up on fishing, and I tried hard to get included when I could.

They tried all modalities.

They seined for shad in the river at Grimesland when they were running.

This wasn't the greatest sport, but cooking fresh-caught shad on the river bank made for good eating.

They sometimes fished for bass, gar, and perch in the fresh-water creeks and ponds, though this was not the rule.

They sometimes went for croakers in the estuaries of the Neuse and Trent, again usually having a fish-fry as soon as the fishing was over.

' Truth is, any kind of fish cooked right after take is seafood at its best.

However, the fishing they enjoyed above all other was either in the sound or ocean down at Morehead City.

"Night fishing" in the sound was perhaps their favorite angling pursuit in the late 1920's and early 1930's.

One of our first railroads was built by the state and ran from Goldsboro to the coast, running through Morehead City and across Bogue Sound to end in Beaufort.

"Night fishing" was practically all done along the trestle between Morehead and Beaufort, and specifically adjacent the "96-mile post" which measured the distance from Goldsboro.

There were boathouses in that arm of the sound which rented skiffs, lights and fishing gear, if needed, to all comers.

The lights were gas lanterns, simple home-built devices.


A torch-like light nozzle extended up from one end of a five foot board connected to a pressurized fill can at the other.

The apparatus was placed athwart the gunwales in the middle of the boat, and when lit the light would attract fish.

After it had been in operation for a few minutes the water beneath the light would be aswirl with fish leaping up from below.

If one was so moved fish could be caught with a dip-net, but the fun was in catching them by rod and reel or handline.

Each line was rigged with two hooks on leaders about two feet apart and just above a sinker at the end of the line.

The hooks were baited with pieces of shrimp and the sinker was lowered to the bottom.

Shrimp was feasible for bait in those days because a quart could be bought for a dime.

On the times I went we left home in the mid-afternoon as soon as the paper was being printed, ate supper at a seafood restaurant either in New Bern or Morehead, and got to the "96-mile Post" just about dark.

We would fish for four to five hours and then drive home.

After getting home we would have to spend an hour or so cleaning some of the catch and giving others to neighbors.

Everyone was back at work the next morning, not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but satisfied from and enjoyable fishing trip.

One such trip has always stuck in my mind, but for a rather unusual reason.

In addition to Daddy and me the group consisted of "Big Dave,"  "Crick," and Jess Pringle, a printer who ran the composing room of The Reflector for a number of years.


At about 10 o'clock "Crick" climbed from the boat up onto the trestle and said:

"We've caught enough fish.
"You guys will expect me to drive home while you sleep
"I'm going to take a nap."

He started down the cross-ties and suddenly came back:

"Dave you locked the car.
"You'll need to give me the keys."

"Big Dave" fished the keys from his pocket and tossed them toward "Crick."

There was a gasp from the rest of us, thinking of the keys not being caught and sinking to the bottom of Bogue Sound.

Still today, some sixty years later, the scene comes back to me as if in slow motion, seeing the keys twisting in the air, glittering from the glow of the fishing light, slowly floating toward "Crick" who caught them without trouble and was on his way.

With "Crick" you lived on the edge.

This particular time, however, "Big Dave" helped too.

________   _   ________


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