Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fishin' Jimmy

My book...Copyright 1889
'Fishin' Jimmy'
Annie Trumbull Slosson

We just found out that I was pregnant. It was late January. We were living in The Village and decided to go to the historic Rhinebeck, NY, to a B&B for the weekend. It was unusually warm that weekend, even though there were large chunks of ice floating down the Hudson. It was perfect weather for wandering around town and visiting the many quaint shops. We came upon bookstore full of not just old books, but antiques as well. Rummaging through this store, we found a small, very old, thin book, called, 'Fishin' Jimmy', by Annie Trumbull Slosson, written in 1889. It cost us no more than $2, from what I remember. We bought it only for the name of the book...seriously. When we moved to Colorado a couple of months ago, I found that unpacking had it's share of surprises. One of them was stumbling upon this 'little' book again. It is a short story, only 53 pages. I sat outside the other day and read it again, and I was reminded of what a treasure we found so many years earlier in Rhinebeck.

Here is a small portion of the book, from pages 8-9 (from my book). The narrator speaking of her sons: 'They are older now, and are no mean anglers, I believe; but they look back gratefully to those brook-side lessons, and acknowledge their obligations to Fishin' Jimmy. But it is not of these practical teachings I would now speak; rather of the lessons of simple faith, of unwearied patience, of self-denial and cheerful endurance which the old man himself seemed to have learned, strangely enough from the very sport so often called cruel and murderous. Incomprehensible as it may seem, to his simple intellect the fisherman's art was a whole system of morality, a guide for everyday life, an education, a gospel. It was all any poor mortal man, woman, or child needed in this world to make him or her happy, useful, good.'

I Googled the author, Annie Trumbull Slosson. She, it turns out, was considered a significant author in the 'regionalism' movement of the late 19th century. Slosson devoted much of her time to entomology later in life, especially after 1886. In 1892, she was one of the founding members of the New York Entomological Society (and its first female member), and it met for some time in her home in Gramercy Park in New York City. She died there in 1926.

If you click here or on the title of this post, you can read this wonderful book. The story of a simple fisherman and the lessons he learned and lived, all very clear to anyone blessed enough to cross his path!!

Noted angling story teller, Henry Van Dyke said this about Fishin' Jimmy:

The loveliest of all her simple narratives is that which I have chosen to stand near the end of this book,--a kind of benediction on anglers.

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