Cash hated losing fishing gear

Journal Correspondent

Cash Harlan hated to lose things, even the most useless items. But to lose valuable stuff like a fish stringer and a bailing can made from a plastic jug just tore him up. I've seen him tie four or five things to his gasoline can so they wouldn't fly out of the truck when he was driving.

One day we were going fishing and I stopped to pick him up. He was sitting in his aluminum chair on the patio waiting impatiently. That chair always went with us. Cash believed in fishing in comfort. He'd put the chair in the boat and tie it down with a small rope so it wouldn't turn over. This gave him a good comfortable seat, high enough so his legs wouldn't cramp.

I think some smart boat manufacturers got the idea for elevated seats on the new-fangled bass boats from seeing Cash sitting so proudly on his "throne chair," as he called it.

When I got out of the truck I went for the outboard motor and Cash grabbed the gas can with one hand and the chair with the other. He failed to notice his chain fish stringer was hooked to the can, and the plastic bailing can and boat cushion were hooked to the stringer.

Well! The second step Cash made, he stepped on that dragging boat cushion. He had quite a bit of momentum when he started to fall. (All fishermen have momentum when they are going fishing.) I don't know why he didn't turn everything loose and save himself, but he didn't. It looked like he fell for thirty feet, with the plastic jug beating a tattoo on the concrete, the chain stringer rattling and the boat cushion tangled in his legs. He would almost gain his balance, then he'd tangle up in the stringer again, and finally he went down.

When I got to him he was sitting flat on his can, and I don't mean gas can. His legs were extended straight in front of him, and he was gasping for breath. I reached to help him and he vigorously waved me away. I saw he wasn't hurt and had an impulse to laugh, but good manners or good sense kept me from it.

If Heaven has a place where there are fish to be caught, where birds sing, and the dirt is black and rich enough to plant things in, Cash is probably there and staying busy as usual. I'm sure he forgives me now when I laugh a little thinking back on the day he and the chair tangled up.