Neil Travis - February 14, 2011

As time passes we begin to lose contact with our past. This last week I was reminded how quickly time slips away.

His name was Robert Harry Travis. Born in 1928 he was the second son born to my parents. There would be 3 more children; Ted, Florence – the only girl – and finally me. All my brothers were nearly grown men when I was born, and even my sister was nearly 10 years my senior. With the passage of time I have buried my parents, my sister and my oldest brother. Last week my Brother Ted called and told me that Brother Robert had gone home to be with the Lord. Now there are only two.

A veteran of the Korean War he survived a suicide charge by the North Koreans at a place called Pork Chop Ridge. He carried a piece of shrapnel in his jaw for a number of years and a scar on his back where he was bayoneted and left for dead. He never talked much about it, but he returned home, got married, and went back to living.

Of all my siblings I was closest to my Brother Bob. I spent summers with him and his wife when I was just a kid, and we started to fish together when I was in high school. We bought a 12 foot V-hulled aluminum boat and a 5 horse motor and during the summer months we spent countless hours fishing for crappie, bluegills, perch, and bass in the numerous lakes around our home in Lower Michigan.

Like my other two brothers Brother Bob was a long distance trucker, and one winter after I was first married I worked with him loading GMC trucks for delivery. I made 5 dollars for each trailer that we loaded, and on a good day we could load 10 trailers. In 1963 that was good money.

It was in the early 60’s that we started going to the Au Sable River. We camped in a tent trailer that my Brother Bob purchased, and over the next several years we took camping trips and vacations from Michigan to the Adirondacks and Catskill Mountains in our home state of New York.

We were camped along the South Branch of the Au Sable River at Canoe Harbor campground when I first met JC and it was at Keystone Landing campground on the Au Sable main stream several years later when I first met the Ladyfisher. When he was home from a trip Brother Bob was always there.

It was during our years on the Au Sable that Brother Bob began to fish with flies. He had fished with wet flies when he was growing up on our parent’s farm in upstate New York, but over the years he had spent more time fishing with bait.

Brother Bob enjoyed being out in the woods. He often said that he was born 50 years too late. He was an excellent shot, he loved to split wood, and could build the best campfires. He was tall and long legged, and he would wade down the middle of the river casually casting to both banks as he waded downstream. Not much of a hatch-matcher, he just tied on what looked promising or what his younger brother told him he should try. He ultimately purchased an Orvis bamboo rod but he was quite content with an inexpensive fiberglass stick that he purchased at the discount store.

In the early 70’s I packed up my family and moved away to Montana. Brother Bob brought my parents out for a couple visits but time and distance took us on separate paths. Ultimately my parents, my sister, my brother Ted and my brother Bob settled near the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. After he retired from driving over the road he returned to his first love, farming.

After the phone call from my brother Ted last week I sat thinking about all that had transpired over the years. It has been over 40 years since my brother and I fished the Au Sable together. Somewhere along the line we moved apart, separated by miles and time. Like Norman, in the enigmatic story A River Runs Through It, nearly all those I loved when I was young are dead, lost in the mists of time. Those were the days, and I’m glad that I had them. It’s not likely that I will see the likes of them again.


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