My lady was eating sushi the other day. It reminded me of the saying “we call that ‘bait’” but not always… There are guys back home that do a type of fishing called Hoggin’.
Hoggin’ is where you and a buddy, go down to the river and you hop in the water and feel around for a hole or a hollow log. Catfish spend most of their time sedentary and laying in a hole or a hollow log.
When you find that hole you hold your breath and go underwater and then proceed to stick your arm into a hole that you can’t see because of the muddy waters that flow down the Embarras (am-BRA) River. If you are lucky, the catfish will attack you in an effort to escape the hole and it bites your hand. Then you hold onto its mouth and yank it out of the water. It’s very eco-friendly.
A catfish is really nothing to mess with. They have TEETH! These guys can pull out monster fish. Unlucky Hoggers can lose a finger to a snapping turtle, snakes, or a muskrat all of which also like to live in the abandoned catfish holes. These men have more courage or less sense than I will ever have. They fish with integrity.
When I was a kid there were two certainties in life
- Muhammad Ali was always the Champion.
- Evel Knievel was the toughest man ever.
May 26, 1975. Wembley Arena, London UK. Evel Knievel will jump over thirteen busses. His farthest jump ever.
Earlier that day Evel walks into the empty arena. He was wearing his leathers from the night before, he smells of alcohol and loose women, having been on a bender the past few days. Standing with the ABC Wide World of Sports crew was announcer Frank Gifford.
Frank says “how ya doin’ Evel?” with a knowing chuckle.
Evel replies “I’m feelin’ kinda crispy around the edges Frank.”
Evel takes a look at the thirteen busses and turns to Frank and says “I can’t jump that.”
Frank shocked at Evel’s comment says “WHAT??!”
Evel replies calmly, “I can’t jump that far.”
Frank Says “Come on Evel, let’s get the hell out here. We’ll come up with something.”
Evel says “No no no. I said I was gonna jump. I’m gonna jump. What do you want me to do? Give all these people their money back?”
Ninety-thousand people have filled the arena. Evel steps out of his trailer red, white and mostly blue leathers, cape and cane in hand. Flashbulbs are popping, The American National Anthem is blasting out the PA and fireworks are lighting up the air.
Evel mounts his bike. Not a Japanese crotch rocket, but a heavy ole’Harley Davidson. He
revves up the bike and takes off ,popping wheelies and putting on a show for the crowd who’ve come to see this former white-trash, county fair stuntman.
Evel rides up the edge of the landing ramp and gazes across. The take-off ramp is a stretched rubber band that fades off into the rafters. He takes a run at the ramp but at the last minute he turns and speeds by, milking the suspense and bringing the crowd to frenzy like only a dirt-track-carnie can.
Evel takes one more false run before hitting his ramp and roaring his Harley up the bleachers to the top platform where he turns, then pulls the front wheel right to the edge of the ramp.
Evel is now looking at a ribbon of plywood that ends where the thirteen busses start. He can see completely across the distance he has to jump. He in his mind he knows he’s not going to make it.
With a deep breath and a quick prayer, Evel gives his crew the thumbs up. It’s a go!
Evel guns the Harley and screams down the nearly vertical ramp! He’s helling down at top speed! The crowd is on its feet. The screaming is deafening! More flashbulbs pop as Evel hits the end of the ramp and into history!!!!! Now THAT is integrity.
Muhammad Ali died yesterday.
In my mind there are still two certainties.
- Muhammad Ali will always be the Champion of the World.
- Evel Knievel will always be the toughest man ever.
You can’t say they weren’t men of their word.
Mom and Dad let me stay up late and watch Ali fight on TV late in his career. That was pretty cool.
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