that's grandpa in the window blowing me a kiss, I was around 3 or so, summer of 1956, I spent most of my summers up there until the age of 6 or 7 at the family farm in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada. pretty much grew up here:
it had no running water, there was a hand pump in the kitchen that pumped water from a cistern in the basement, had no indoor bathrooms, the outhouse was next to the barn, "donnie rule #1 is no #2 in the house," still smile today remembering that from clay. no central heat, just two big black cast iron stoves, one in the kitchen, one in the parlor. not sure if it had electric lights or not, i remember lots of hurricane candles around but not real sure on that.
this was my introduction to farm animals, grandpa would pick them up and drop them in my arms. this pig turned into my pet "almost a dog donnie," he ran away one summer i was told, grandpa had named him "canadian," a connection between missing "my almost a dog," and "canadian" i didn't get until much latter in life.
for the sake of history this is the very first photograph i ever took in my life, i was barely 4 grandpa wanted me to come out to play with the chickens that "are almost a dog donnie," and one day he handed me a toy and said, "look through this little hole and press this button right here, it's a camera, take a picture of the almost a dog chickens." and so i did exactly what grandpa said except right when he told me to take the picture he jumped up in the air waving his arms and yelling "SHOOOOO," much later my grandma told me it was grandpa's favorite photo that he kept it in his wallet because, "that little bugger (me) even managed to do what i said and took the picture even as the entire flock of chickens ran over him and knocked him down." in 60 years of picture taking it hasn't gotten any easier.
i'm 5 months old here, a 4 months later he took me fishing, sort of. let grandma tess tell you: "your grandfather told us he was going to take you for a walk, three hours later he comes back, you were a little stinky so when we asked why he didn't change your diaper he just shrugged and when i went into your diaper bag to pull out the diaper i knew was in there when i picked it up two fish fell out, two perch, and the diaper was held together with a fishing hook and you were sort of chewing/sucking on a bobber. clay took you fishing with him to the foot of niagara street off the pier there you were barely 8 or 9 months old and he was holding you on his lap with one hand and fishing with the other, your mother flipped."
he died when i was 7 years old, i'm told we made many fishing trips together, i don't remember much, just the tales about them from my grandmother, who basically raised me and who lived long enough to see me married and who got to hold her 1st great grandchild, our daughter ashley.
whenever i throw a line in the water for just a second or so as the bait floats in the air i do smell cigar smoke from next to me and deep within i hear this, "just let it sit in the water there, watch the bobber, but we ain't in no hurry, don't matter none about the fish."
gram said that the one time when she was there as we fished when i asked what he meant that it wasn't about the fish, she told me grandpa said, "let the fish get their own grandpa, this fishing is about me and you donnie."
the last time i saw my grandma alive i visited her in the hospital in kenmore, ny, i was living in california at the time with bb & ash, we sat and talked a while, as i was leaving she asked if i remembered fishing "with clay." i said some, remember the cigar, remember casting the bobber and sitting with him, that's about all.
"tell you a secret donnie, he never put a hook on the line, he just wanted to be there with you. you were the catch."