Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pluckin' with power and fishin' backwards

I was just over at our pal Bustednuckles' place, Ornery Bastard. He had a heartwarming post about his Granny teaching him about food and it rang some bells in my brain, additional ones that is, and made me remember an old gent from my youth.

Scott W. McKendree of Klamath Falls, Oregon, was a business partner of my Dad's. He was in his '60s back in the mid-1950s so I'm sure it's OK to talk about him now without him coming after me.

Mr. McKendree was an outdoorsman and kind of a Gyro Gearloose who invented and marketed things, except that unlike Gyro, his stuff actually worked. One of his masterpieces was the McKendree Duck Picker (I paid $2 for mine at a garage sale). See his ad in the Sep '55 Popular Mechanics.

He was a gruff old curmudgeon, probably one of my role models as I think back on it, but he was very nice to me. He took me fishing when I was about 11 years old at the beautiful Lake of the Woods in Oregon. He taught me to tie everything to the boat so in case it turned over you wouldn't lose anything.

While we were out on the lake, the boat quit moving even though the outboard motor was running. The thing had lost its prop. Mr. McKendree rowed us to the boat dock (no power in an 11-year-old or he'da had me do it, I think) and bought a prop.

Now, he had a Johnson and the store at the dock sold Evinrude, or vice versa (Mox nix, they're one and the same today under Bombardier. Damn Canucks!). He installed the prop, fired 'er up and the boat took off backwards. The one brand of motor counter-rotated from the other.

I think it was faster to just run backwards than to try and run the motor in reverse and go forward, but in any case we finished our day of fishing. The kokanee were delicious!

Note: Kokanee are either salmon or trout or something else entirely depending on region and who you talk to. These were light brown fish that looked like and were about the same size as a stream trout. Boating them was a good fight for an 11-year-old.

One final stop on this trip down memory lane.

My Dad told me this exactly once and no one dared ask Mr. McKendree about it.

Mr. McKendree's father was murdered, shot to death, in some cattlemen versus sheepmen dispute in the early 20th century. The man who did it was later found shot to death, and the gunman was never caught. Rumor had it that Mr. McKendree avenged his father's death but nobody ever pursued it. Oregon isn't generally thought of as the Old West, but it sure as shit was. Still is.

I know how to pick my role models, huh?

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