Ending my father’s days as a rod & reel enthusiast

Robert Stanger Contributing writer

Although I am a permanent resident of the Youngstown area, with its high crime rate, and just a seasonal resident of the Warren area, I have probably been subject of as much petty crime in the latter area as in the former.

Two recent incidents in the Warren area come to mind:

In the more serious of the two, my small cellphone was stolen from my car while I stopped at the large TOPS market at the edge of Warren’s downtown.

I hadn’t bothered to lock the car since I was going to be in the store for just a matter of minutes. But the phone was swiped from the car’s center console in what must have been just a very short while after I had parked the car.

I didn’t realize the phone had been taken until some hours later when I came to the simple conclusion that the theft must have occurred while I was briefly in the store. Ironically, the theft occurred within a stone’s throw of a cell phone sales and service store located in the shopping plaza opposite the market.

When I reported the theft to the Warren police, I was told that there had been a good number of recent car break-ins in the city.

In a combined bike-hike outing, I was a victim of another even pettier theft which occurred at the parking lot on Dunn’s Eddy Road next to the old stone house that was part of the former Irvine Estate.

I had parked my car where Dunn’s Eddy Road meets Old Forge Road and walked back of the stone house along Brokenstraw Creek and the Allegheny River where I had left my bike locked to a post. I then rode back to where I had parked my car, leaving the bike lock concealed in leaves next to the post. However, I forgot to pick up the lock when I drove back to our cabin in Althom.

I returned a day later to retrieve the bike lock only to discover that it had been taken, despite having been concealed in leaves. Some sharp-eyed thief had apparently noted the glint of metal under the leaves. It should have been obvious that this wasn’t a discarded item.

Although these were petty crimes of little import except as examples of the lowbrows that are at loose in the Warren society (or, for that matter, any society) my family and I have been victims of minor crimes over the years including that a couple that was quite cruel in their consequences.

One such crime follows:

My father was an avid fisherman throughout his life and enjoyed casting for bass in Presque Isle Bay, trolling for yellow pike along the lakeshore west of the bay, and taking annual trips into the North Bay region of Ontario to fish for muskellunge and northern pike.

But in his later years, as age took its toll (especially the effects of macular degeneration) his angling was pretty much confined to the head of the bay in Erie where perch and bluegills were plentiful.

He never cared to clean and fry the fish he caught, as he considered the bay in those days too polluted for this. However, he did give them to a neighbor, a widow, who was less squeamish.

The boat he used to row out into the bay to fish on still days from where he had it chained to a post at the foot of Sommerheim Drive (where there is an Erie Water Works pumping station) was quite unique.

Although it was a full 14 feet in length, it was very light in weight for its size as it was made from an alloy of aluminum and magnesium. The latter is a metal of extremely lightweight.

(I do not know where he got the boat, except that it was possibly acquired through his work at Griswold, which as a maker of cooking ware would have had done business with firms in the metals trade. I doubt that any boats are made of this alloy today.)

I was very fond of that boat, and when home on visits, I would often mount our 2.5 hp Evinrude outboard onto its stern and cruise the bay, even going out through the channel into the lake where I would swim from the beaches at the tip of the state park. With just one occupant, the boat was very fast.

On one visit I, as usual, asked my father if I could use his boat, and, as usual, he replied “yes.”

But when I drove down to the foot of Sommerheim, I found that the fine little boat had been stolen. The lock was still attached to the chain which secured it to the post, but the lock was smashed.

“The boat is gone,” I sadly reported to my father upon returning home.

The theft of the boat ended my father’s days as a rod and reel enthusiast, as he never cared much for pier fishing. And I was certainly sorry that I never got to inherit that little aluminum-magnesium watercraft which required outboard of so little horsepower to send it scooting along at such a surprising pace.

And I doubt that the boat’s thief or thieves realized the cruelty of their action, nor that they had swiped a boat that was so superior to wooden or plain aluminum boats of similar size.

Robert Stanger has lived seasonally for over 40 years along the Allegheny River and has the stories to tell about it.

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