Randy Poynter Lake was closed Wednesday, as normally is the case, and my mind was on fishing. I wasn't longing to wet a line that day, but it was a chance for me to think about fishing with my dad and Uncle Tump.
I attended Tump's funeral recently, and though I had not seen him in years, I went with my dad to pay our last respects. As the service began with Elvis Presley's "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" I began to think about my time with the man.
"Tump" was what everybody called Harold Lackey, who was married to my Aunt Shirley for a time while I was growing up. Everybody described him as an outdoorsman, and that point was brought home by his family who buried him in a flannel shirt and blue jeans.
My best recollection of Tump was spending the night on a concrete support of the old Ga. Highway 212 bridge on Jackson Lake to fish for crappie. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, and he and dad were nice enough to let me tag along.
To me, the experience was about a lot more than fishing. There was no bed time, so it was my first time staying up past midnight. Also, I remember the sounds and smells of the moment. It was a clear, moonless night that had only the occasional car crossing the bridge to break the constant rush of the Alcovy River pouring into the lake.
Now, I'm pretty sure we were not supposed to fish from the bottom of the bridge, and it was hard to climb up to the platform. Even so, fishing was good.
Good or bad, fishing has been good to me. It provided me a chance to spend time with my dad or to just get out of the house on a pretty day. I had a few good family gatherings that centered on fishing, too.
One time, a farmer was draining a lake on his farm, and he invited us to fish the catfish out. Everybody seemed to have brought a pole that day. The water was low on the small lake, so the catfish were being pulled out almost as fast as we could re-bait the hooks.
I remember Tump's brother, Tommy, was in charge of the afternoon lunch that day, and he decided to make chili. Let's just say Tommy got caught up in all of the activities - and the abundance of cold beer - and ended making the chili so hot with peppers that no one could eat it.
Mom took gallons of Tommy's chili home and kept them in the freezer. For a few months afterwards there were not enough crackers or stewed tomatoes available to temper Tommy's flaming hot chili.
More recently, I've fished on Poynter Lake with Robbie Mumford and his son, Beau. We hit every nook and cranny of the lake and came up empty. Not even a nibble.
But it was a good way to spend the afternoon. I think it would have suited Tump just fine.
Jay Jones is a staff reporter for the Rockdale Citizen. E-mail Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.