Dad gives me a lead on a summer job
When I was 17, I already knew all there was to know about ranch work. Or at least I thought I did. I knew how to handle post-hole diggers, fencing pliers, and branding irons. I knew how to cut and split logs for the woodstove, and how to put up hay for winter feed. I could weed a garden, milk a cow or rope a steer. And not only did I know all this stuff, I was totally bored with it.
So, it really piqued my interest when Dad mentioned the possibility of a summer job on a fishing boat.
“You remember my buddy Tim, from Seattle?" Dad asked me after supper one night. "Well, Tim bought a charter boat and he needs a bait-boy for next summer. He’ll take you on if you’re interested in the job.”
My family had lived in the Seattle area for a few years when Dad worked as a carpenter. He framed spec houses and built concrete forms for the Highway 520 floating bridge. He'd met Tim while working on the 'World of Tomorrow' exhibit for the 1962 World's Fair.
Their friendship had endured even after we moved back to the Montana ranch where Dad grew up. Tim had visited us a few times and I knew he was an avid fisherman, so it wasn't surprising that he would try his hand at salmon fishing. I had no idea what a bait-boy did, but I knew he did it 500 miles away from my rural boredom.
“Really, you’d let me go to Seattle?” my eyes lit up with a mixture of excitement and disbelief.
“Well, you’ll be 18 by then. That’s old enough to join the Maritime Union. And you wouldn’t be on your own. You’d have to stay with Tim, so he can keep an eye on you.”
“That would be really cool!" I burst out excitedly, as enthusiasm won out over skepticism. "What would I have to do? What does it pay? Can I drive the boat?”
“Slow down, it’s just basic stuff like baiting hooks, rigging tackle, and general clean-up. And it doesn’t pay all that much, at least not at first. You have to start as an apprentice and work your way up. But if you work hard and do well, you could be a journeyman in a couple of months. And who knows, if you get really good at handling your tackle, you could be a master baiter!
“Gee, thanks Dad.”
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