Monday, June 11, 2012

Fiasco on the Paw Paw

Jim and Dick Woodruff
One crisp fall day in 1951, two brothers went drifting down the Paw Paw River hunting ducks. The younger brother was in the stern of the 18' wood and canvas Old Town canoe using a paddle to steer, while the elder brother sat in the bow, shotgun at the ready. Suddenly a duck flew up! The bow man followed the duck's flight until his shotgun was pointing 90 degrees to the long axis of the canoe at which time he fired (missing the duck). In accordance with Newton's Third Law, the canoe promptly tilted the other way, dumping the unprepared steersman, his paddle and his 16 gauge double-barreled shotgun into the river. To the elder brother's amazement, the younger brother demonstrated that it is possible to swim to shore, even weighed down with hip boots full of frigid water. The younger brother and his paddle were recovered; but, alas, his pet 16 gauge remains forever at the bottom of the river.

The rest of the story now needs to be told: My wife Elaine was visiting her folks in St. Joe at the time. My father Allen Woodruff was busy in his barn behind our Paw Paw Avenue house selling war surplus to multiple customers. Younger brother Dick and I pulled out of the river at Riverside and went into the local tavern to warm up, get a couple of beers, and call for help. There were no cell phones in those days, of course. We tried several times without success to reach Dad on the pay phone. Running out of coins I called Elaine at her folks' home and asked her to keep trying to reach Dad. She was eventually successful but Dad was abrupt with her, suggesting that he was too busy with customers to leave the store to rescue his two grown sons. Elaine didn't take that well at all and said that we could rot in Riverside then. Eventually Dad relented and drove to Riverside and picked us and the canoe up. The photo shows Dick and I and the canoe on Dad's pickup truck back at the barn on Paw Paw Avenue. Note Dick wearing his sweater upside down over his legs in lieu of wet pants.


Anonymous said...

Great story Jim! Thanks for sharing your misadventure with your brother, nice photo too. My dad would have probably done the same thing your dad did.

joninrodri said...

Cool story jim!!!