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Fishing cars

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Fishing Cars

When I was growing up in rural Texas we had “fishing cars”. 

In those days there were three black and white TV channels, AM radio, eight track tape players, no video games, no cell phones, and cars that could actually be worked on – they didn’t have electronics in them. The engines were simple machines with room to get to everything. Every teenage boy had at least one car that he was working on, and sometimes even driving. We talked cars, lived cars and breathed engine exhaust. It was what we did.

Fishing cars were specialized clunkers. A fishing car couldn’t be a pickup truck for reasons I’ll explain later. It generally had four doors, the windows worked (hand cranked of course), had a three speed floor shifter, a bad clutch, burned almost as much oil as it did gasoline, put out a blue haze of smoke, had holes in the floor boards large enough you could stick a foot through. Held together by baling wire. 

They were unregistered, uninsured, and never had a license plate in the same decade. Often they didn’t have license plates. We didn’t drive them on paved roads. Country boys could go anywhere in five counties and stay on dirt roads, only occasionally crossing over a paved road. We knew those roads so well that we usually drove them at night with no headlights; the headlights rarely worked anyway.

They were perfect machines for fishing trips. We knew fishing holes and how to get to them cross-country. These were cars we didn’t mind taking cross country. Our fishing holes were way down distant pastures and river bottoms. Every kid in those days had permission to fish everybody’s stock tanks, cross over everybody’s land. We didn’t leave litter behind, we always left gates as we found them, closed them if they were closed and sailed through them if they were open. The landowners were someone’s uncle or cousin or someone we hauled hay for each summer. We knew which pastures had mean bulls and we knew who would be cutting hay or plowing and where on any given day. We avoided the hay cutting or plowing, but not necessarily the bulls. 

Generally there was one fishing car for every four friends. It was parked at one house but everyone showed up to work on it when necessary. Fuel and oil costs were shared, it might cost three bucks to fuel up for a trip. Gas was brought to the car, we couldn’t take the car to the gas station – paved roads you know. Throw some solid fiberglass poles with old tarnished pfleuger bait casting reels loaded with moldy braided line into the back seat, the rods always sticking out the passenger rear window - and take off. Beer would be hidden in the trunk under old tow sacks – pickups had no good place to hide beer and 16 year old boys needed that hiding place. Felt like they did anyway. 

Travel dirt roads, then ruts across a pasture then bust through bottom land brush and eventually wind up down in the Bosque River bottom. Park the car, get the poles and minnow seine out. Seine up some minnows, bait the lines and cast them out. Pop a top and act cool. One of the guys would have a pack of camel unfiltereds and everyone lit up and acted even cooler. Every third or fourth trip we had to walk out to the nearest farm house and beg a ride to the nearest of our homes, get a pickup and logging chain and tow the fishing car out. They broke down a lot. This was one of the reasons we knew where the bulls were. 

Summer days, faded-torn blue jeans, scruffy old cowboy boots, tee-shirts with the sleeves raggedly cut off, dirty-bent-broken-crowned cowboy hats that were our pride and joy, tall tales. Catch a few fish, build a fire after dark. Razz each other mercilessly and mock fight every twenty minutes or so. Eight track tape playing Credence Clearwater, catch more fish. 

Bragging about how far we got with what girl, trashing the snotty seniors, and drink warm beer. Telling your buddies that you needed to find better friends then ducking the beer cans they threw at you. It was always Pearl or Lone Star and it was never cold – ice was harder to come by than beer. Get home at 2 in the morning and sneak in past the parents’ bedroom.Slip into bed and think it was a pretty good day, sleep the deep sleep of the innocent, and young.

Those were fishing trips. 

Those were fishing cars.

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Brdhntr47

We called them "woods" cars in my part of the country. Parents today would never allow a woods or fishing car. Besides, kids today are too busy with organized activities and cell phones.

 

Dennis

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MSchafer

that was great, we had an old jeep and if someone was along for the first time they got the front seat the one with the holes in the floor board that would drench you when in went through a puddle. 

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PartridgeCartridge

We called them "field cars". Had a few of them. Several with no hoods or fenders. They also doubled as fine platforms with sandbags for long range woodchuck shooting.Fun.

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Chief Paduke

There is a Patrick McManus story in there somewhere. 

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Cooter Brown
32 minutes ago, Chief Paduke said:

There is a Patrick McManus story in there somewhere. 

A high complement--and deserved.

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Chukarman

Yep, sounds pretty familiar. We would plan a 'speed trip' buy an old car (like a '52 Plymouth 4 door) get it running as well as we were able, load our stuff and start driving, deciding the destination and route once underway. Gas was cheap. Roads weren't crowded. It was the ultimate freedom in the best time in the history of this country - or any other.

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WyomingArt

A neighbor classmate had an ice fishing car, a '48 Crosley Crosmobile Wagon. 27 HP I believe.  

 

The  top was cut off with a cold chisel to " make it safer."  Life was good, Grain Belt was cheap.

 

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phonefly

Wow! A Crosley.

 

My grandfather and I had a Henry J.  STINK!!!  Ammo - fish nets  --  so much dirt that corn was growing the rear floor board.  Saturday night coon hunt -- sit in car and listen to "WCKY - Cincinnati 1,Ohio"  (in North Carolina it was only station that played country music after dark.)

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Jim Vander

In 1976 I turned 16 and took my trapping and firewood money and bought a 1969 roadrunner. It fished everywhere in the Northeast. By far the funniest looks we got was Atlantic Salmon fishing in Cape Breton NS. It met a bad end end but no one got hurt. Cracks me up when people say they don't build them like they used to. I carried points a voltage regulator a water pump and some plugs everywhere I went. Was a time I was sad I did not have timing chain in the trunk!

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