Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Somber thoughts on the passing of a friend

Kay gave me an e-book last Christmas and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to download books, kick back in my recliner and read while she watches "The Bachelor".

One of my favorite all-time humor writers was Lewis Grizzard and I just finished reading one of the last ones he wrote, "I Took A Lickin' And Kept On Tickin'". In this book, Grizzard, born with a heart condition, wrote about his three open heart surgeries to replace a faulty mitral valve.

The third operation, one that almost killed him but miraculously didn't, furnished him with fodder for his most gripping work. After finally recovering against seemingly insurmountable odds, he was able to interview his doctors, was given access to some of his medical records that chronicled all that transpired during the weeks he was dependent on the expertise of physicians and devices to keep him alive. This book, laced with vintage Grizzard humor, was one of the most riveting of his works, in my opinion.

Tragically, a fourth surgery was too much for his fragile heart to endure and he passed away at the age of 47 on March 20, 1994.

Coincidentally as I was reading Grizzard's book, I saw a notice in the obituaries about the death of James Waldon. There is a parallel in the passing of both Grizzard and Waldon. The famed humor columnist was in many ways a rebel who did all the things he wasn't supposed to but absolutely enjoyed life.

I never saw James Waldon as a rebel; but I do know there was one thing he absolutely loved and each time I saw him fishing, there was no doubt in my mind that he was enjoying it to the hilt, and he was good at it too.

The first time I met Waldon a few years ago, I was taking my daily walk around the path that encircles the lake at Lincoln Parish Park north of Ruston. As I was set to begin my walk, Kent Follette, a friend and fellow walker approached me and told me I needed to stop by the fellow fishing from the dam and see the fish he'd caught.

I walked over; we exchanged introductions and I said I'd heard that he'd caught a big bass. James Waldon laid aside his rod, casually reached down to a stringer stuck in the bank and showed me a big bass on the stringer, a 7 pounder.

"Caught it half an hour or so ago on a plastic lizard right out there around that overflow pipe," Waldon said, pointing to the pipe. "Hung a bigger one earlier," he added.

Kicking myself for not bringing my camera along on my walk, I asked him if he'd mind waiting half an hour until I could run home and get my camera.

"Sure; I plan to fish for another hour or so," he said.

After returning with my camera, the photo-op was done and as I was leaving, he mentioned nonchalantly that I should bring my camera with me the next day.

"I'm going catch that big one tomorrow" Waldon said with a wink and a grin.

The following day, I headed out for my walk, camera in hand, and watched Waldon lob a lizard to the overflow pipe. He didn't say anything as I approached until I asked the question he knew I'd ask; did he get the big one.

He didn't answer but instead reached down for his stringer and pulled up a whopping 9 pound bass.

I wrote a story on Waldon and he and I became friends, taking time to chat each time he and I were at the park at the same time.

I regret that I won't get to read another hot new release by Lewis Grizzard. It hurts, too, when I realize I won't be able to stop and chat with my friend, James Waldon, at the lake this summer. He'd have caught that 10 pounder this year; I'm sure of it.

Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.

 

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