Column: From fishing to everyday life, mistakes happen

By Larry LaGrange

If you’re alive, you soon realize that mistakes are part of life. The same is true for the publishing business. You just hope that the error doesn’t get you sued or embarrass someone so badly that you get hate mail. You smile, shrug your shoulders, apologize, and vow to do better next time.

So in my bluegill column in the June 12 early editions of the Herald, in a photo caption of Catholic priest Father Don Ackerman and me at Boggs Lake, he was incorrectly identified as my father. The error was noted and in later editions was corrected. Actually, pretty darn funny.

I wasn’t sure how Father would react, so I called him. His edition of the Herald didn’t have the mistake. He thought the whole thing was pretty funny too. Father has a good sense of humor. It’s easy to see why he’s so well liked and admired around the area. At 83, he can still function very well — including catching fish.

I was a newspaper adviser at Jasper High School for 33 years, so I presided over a host of screw-ups but nothing too devastating. The worst trouble I recall was when I asked a soon-to-retire female math teacher for her photo so that she could be recognized in the school newspaper, the Comet. She was known to be short-tempered and told me firmly, “Whatever you do, don’t lose that picture. I want it back immediately. It’s the only one I have.”

So what happened? Of course. The photo disappeared from the Earth. We looked everywhere. Maybe it was on the floor of the Herald Printing shop. They looked too. No photo. Maybe it was on another planet. I was in Trouble, capital T.

When I told her the photo was lost, her reaction reminded me of a Bill Cosby tape story our family enjoyed way back. Cosby was responsible for fixing breakfast one morning. The kids trooped down, asked what was to eat and when he hesitated they suggested chocolate cake. He thought, “How ridiculous.”

But then he rethought the issue. There are milk and eggs and maybe other good stuff in chocolate cake. And it was already sitting on the counter. So, he and the kids dug in and were having a great time, until…..

Awakening after a blissful sleep-in,  the mother walked down the stairs and noted what was going on. Cosby said that she didn’t say anything, but that her face turned beet red and then it split completely in two. Then she said something, very loudly. Screamed actually.

That was pretty much this math teacher’s reaction. I thought she was going to have a heart attack, and then I thought she was going to hurt me. Thankfully, neither of those happened. After my sincere explanation and apology, she turned around and left in a huff. I hope she made another appointment to have her picture taken. But she liked that picture.

I’ve had so many screw-ups fishing that they’re hard to count. Many times at the end of a fishing trip I have grabbed my tackle box to leave before realizing that it was unfastened. There are multiple small objects in a tackle box, and if one is fortunate most of them are still on the boat floor, somewhere, after a tackle box mishap.

I’ve jumped down to the ground from a trailered boat, instead of putting my foot on a wheel hub and gently climbing down. On one occasion, that move resulted in a wrenched knee and an arthroscopic procedure. Once at the end of a long fishing day I carried a very heavy outboard back to the truck, with one hand because the handle made two-hand carrying awkward. Why did I do this? Well, Dad was tired too, and I thought it was considerate of me to manage the motor. That resulted in back surgery and loss of my active life for a while.

How many times have I banged my knee on the trailer hitch sticking out when no boat was attached? That reminds me. If you want a good laugh, look up the goofs of pro fisherman and TV host Bill Dance. I have a DVD of his “Bloopers,” but you can get most of them on YouTube. It’s hilarious viewing good-humored but klutzy Bill get into all kinds of trouble. Watching someone else screw up is a lot funnier, and much less painful, than doing it yourself.

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