The Stranger from the 1940’s

Guest Blogger Justin Aldrich

Guest Blogger: Justin Aldrich, avid fly tyer and J. Stockard customer

There we were. We fished side by side in secrecy. Strangers to each other, but a kinship to the landscape and water. He was spent with age, yet still filled with so much life and vitality.

He knew I was there, but made no acknowledgement of my presence.
After only a few minutes, I found myself there for a different purpose altogether. I was now on a small trout stream fly fishing for his approval.

His movements seemed to make no sound or wake as I followed eagerly and learned from his unintentional education.

I originally thought I had hit the jackpot as I stumbled upon his free trout lesson. Yet, much to my surprise, the greater lesson was still to come.

When the “lesson” was over, our feet both left the water almost in unison. He gave me one slight once-over as he seemed to turn and leave, but with a hint of something to say.

Once we were both steady on that rich grassy bank, his eyes met mine and they told me to stay put. Something in his gaze commanded it. I’ll never be sure, but I like to think I got off a nod before he took what seemed to be a giant, but relaxed step towards me and put his hand on my shoulder. With a stern grip, one you can only acquire from many years of hard work, he grinned ever so slightly and looked down towards me.
Then turned and walked away without ever saying one word.
(He had given me his approval.)

Like many from his era, of days long ago, The Stranger educated me without ever speaking a single verbal word that cool Summer morning. A spirited lesson from a honorable man who had more wisdom in his eyes, of the water and of life, than I’ll ever receive in my lifetime.

What started out as a kind gesture will always remain not as a lesson on fly fishing for trout, but a life lesson in general for me to pass on throughout my days…

8 thoughts on “The Stranger from the 1940’s

    1. Justin Aldrich

      Your very welcome Susan.

      I apologize for replying so late….

      I’m glad you enjoyed this, thank you again.

      – Justin Aldrich

      Reply
  1. Jim Murphy

    Well written…great reflection…reminds me of a similar experience…different but still a well remembered lesson from an “older timer” who could have just walked on bye and left me without the memory of an 18″ cut he set me up to catch.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Justin Aldrich

      Hi Jim, (I apologize for the late reply.)

      Your reflected memory is exactly what I was going for when writing and sharing this particular story.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

      – Justin Aldrich

      Reply
  2. Michael Vorhis

    Justin, this is among the most hauntingly charming recollections I’ve ever heard or read. You’ve caught the morning, the stream, the sport, the people and all that’s beautiful about life in a few elegant words. I can’t stop reading it.

    – Mike

    Reply
    1. Justin Aldrich

      Mike,

      Wow, what a wonderful compliment. I’ll admit I’m having a bit of trouble with finding the words to respond to you, except to say thank you for taking the time to express how this made you feel. It meant so much.

      Hope you’ve been enjoying the cooler weather.

      – Justin Aldrich

      Reply
  3. Mary S. Kuss

    The wisdom of earlier generations of fly fishers is always there, spoken or not, for those of us who are wise enough to recognize its value when they see it.

    Reply

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