Impressions, attitudes and relationships are often formed early in life. My relationship with my father was formed through a series of events and happenstances. The story of a fishing trip at the age of ten is a significant part of to the relationship formed between me and my father.
Mother was pregnant again with what turned out to be her second miscarriage, a boy she now has named, Mark. It was Mother’s idea that Dad take the boys out for an outing on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The trip had no advance planning. According to Mom, Dad needed to spend more time with us. He was commuting at the time by outboard motorboat to the Ohwa mission campus, about 90 minutes from the Kolonia dock. The picture we have commemorating the event seems to indicate that Dad had put me in command, as you see I am saluting him. Merrill seems more interested in the picture being taken my Mom. Marshall, the baby in Dad’s arms, is probably wondering if mother is coming along. I’m sure she welcomed a break from the maternal role Dad expected her to fill.
The boat at the dock down the hill was already in the water and ready to go, since Dad would have to leave Monday morning for his weekly trip to teach at the Pastors Teachers Training School. This was his dream come true: an adult training institution established for training indigenous men from all over Micronesia. He had given up the Ohwa home he build to the new American family that arrived to help him. This was a temporary arrangement since Mother needed medical attention in Kolonia.
It was not long before we got underway. I must have thought that fishing involved getting into the water, since the picture shows me with goggles. The fishing I had been familiar with involved swimming with a spear-gun, hand spear or trolling line as we traveled by boat to the numerous destinations around the island lagoon. I did not have experience with fishing with a pole but it does seem that Merrill was anxious to learn to be an angler.
The destination for this fishing trip was up the estuary (Dausokele Estuary) and toward the confluence of one of many tributaries, the Pilen Dauen Neu. This small river was dammed upstream where all the foreign children enjoyed a swimming hole by what was known as the Ag Station. We had many hours of fun with our best friends, Mark and Glenn Murakami. In 1967, when Marshall and mother returned to Pohnpei attribute this favorite swimming hole as the source of the hepatitis that marred their stay. I think that I have a small fungal discoloration on the center of my back from something from this favorite swimming hole.
There were no friends with us on this trip and it did not look like we were going to get into the water. It was not long before Dad announced that we could start to fish. My recollection of the day was that Merrill was the only one who attempted to fish using the pole entrusted to him. I do not recall any bait but that does not mean Merrill had not brought worms with him. It was not long before Dad had encountered a couple of men in a boat who had been successful that day. Since most everyone knows Dad, he was greeted with respect and of course offered a token from that day’s catch. Dad accepted with gratitude and enthusiasm. He had had enough and we were on our way home but not before one final caveat. With a wry smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, we then tossed me the fish, saying; “Now Mike, you can tell Mom that you caught a fish!”