By Kent Singer, Executive Director
When my father passed away 20 years ago this month, my sister and I were heartbroken. Not only because we had lost our father but also, having lost our mother eight years earlier, we knew that our lives would never be quite the same without our folks.
I thought about my father a lot the last month or so as we commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day and, of course, Father’s Day. Dad did not fight in Europe in World War II, but he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and became an officer. Like thousands of men and women of the Greatest Generation, after the war he raised a family, worked hard and enjoyed spending time on his small Kansas farm where he grew up.
Dad was born in 1915 and the rural farmhouse where he was raised did not have electricity, indoor plumbing or a telephone. Although he worked fields behind a horse and plow as a kid, he lived to see a man walk on the moon. I have to chuckle when people suggest that our lives are changing faster than ever based on the development of new technology. I don’t think my dad would be all that impressed that the latest iPhone has facial recognition.
Dad was 43 when I was born, and we had different tastes when it came to music, culture and, of course, politics. But while we did not see eye to eye on many things, we shared a love of fishing and baseball and that was enough to make our relationship work pretty well. Dad taught me to fish with a cane pole when I was about 5 years old, and I’ve had the bug ever since. Whenever we spent time at the farm, the first thing I wanted to do was head down to Blue Hole to catch Old Fighter, the largemouth bass that always seemed to get away.
When I moved to Colorado, I learned how to fly fish and over the years I have acquired an embarrassing collection of fancy graphite fly rods and expensive reels. My dad’s fishing gear was not made by Scott, Winston or Sage, but rather ABU Garcia, Pflueger and Shakespeare. He did not own neoprene chest waders or polarized sunglasses; he made do with rubber hip boots and a Kansas City Royals ball cap.
But boy, could he catch fish. He could throw a number 2 Mepps spinner a hundred feet and drop it on a dime. He had that sixth sense that all great fishermen have: He knew where the fish were likely to be and how to make the right cast and retrieve to entice them to bite. Dad loved fishing for largemouth bass back in Kansas, but he loved fishing for Colorado trout even more.
And my goodness, was he tenacious. Like a hunting dog fixated on a running rooster, my dad would fight through all kinds of streamside trees and brush if it meant a better vantage point from which to cast a lure. It was not uncommon for him to come back from a fishing trip bruised and bloodied, the result of an encounter with a tree branch or a fall in a rushing mountain stream. Like most fishermen, he always needed to catch that one last fish of the day. And maybe one more.
It seems impossible that my dad has been gone for 20 years. I open his old tackle box once in a while because it reminds me of him: I can still smell the distinctive combination of sweat, blood and reel oil. Henry Lyman Singer was the best fisherman I ever knew; we miss you, Dad.
Kent Singer is the executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for your electric co-op, the 21 other electric co-ops in Colorado and its power supply co-op.