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Pop And His Rock

Story ID:6846
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana United States
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A tribute to my wonderful Dad Who would have been 127 years old yesterday.

Pop And His Rock
By Chuck Dishno

My Dad, Ed Dishno, was the hardest working man I ever knew. He came by it rightly as he was born and raised on a cattle ranch in 1884 in the Big Hole Valley of Montana. Growing up on a cattle ranch in the 1880’s was not a easy life. From the time you were a few years old you were expected to share in the daily chores such as slopping the hogs and milking the cows. When you were a few years older you were expected to work in the hay fields and feed the cattle in the winter, sometimes at 60 below zero. All this contributed to the man he was. He left the ranch in the late 20’s and went into logging in Oregon, another hard profession.

Pop was 50 when I was born in 1934. By the time I was old enough to remember him he was almost 60 and still working hard. Logging in those days consisted of felling trees with a long crosscut saw pulled by hand, chopping off the limbs with an ax and then sawing the fallen tree into lengths for the saw mill. Needless to say he had muscles that would make many of today’s “muscle men” green with envy. When I was about 16 years old, I worked with him in the woods during the summers for 5 years and I can tell you that he worked circles around me.

When he wasn’t working, his passion was fishing or hunting ducks and geese. He loved fishing most of all and had the patience of Job. He could stand with a rod in hand for hours on some creek bank waiting for that elusive big trout to take his fly, salmon eggs or worm. I never saw him lay his rod down or put it on a forked stick like my brother and I did. I even saw my brother, Shad, after he had parked the pole on a willow fork; loop the line around his big toe so that he could feel the fish jerk the line while he took a nap. Pop would say, “How are you guys going to catch a fish with your pole on the ground? That fish sure won’t hook it’s self.” He proved it, many times, too as he caught lot’s more fish as we did.

The reason I’m writing the above is to give you an idea what kind of man Pop was and how he deserved the following story.

When I was about 12 or so, we were out fishing on the Sycan river near our home in Bly, Oregon. This was one of his favorite streams and it meandered through the beautiful fields of a ranch with willow trees lining the bank to give shade and also provide great places for those “lunkers” to hide.

I had stayed back by the car as that’s where the sandwiches were while Pop had walked way up the stream and was slowly fishing his way down. I was in my usual reclining fishing position when I saw him about a half mile away carrying a very large and heavy rock. A few minutes later he dropped it and continued on. This happened each time we went fishing at that river for the remainder of the summer. I never questioned him about what he was doing but by the time the summer was almost over he had moved that rock or I should say boulder to his favorite spot. This time he sat down on it and tossed in his line. When I asked him why he had worked so long and hard getting that boulder to the spot, he said, “Chum, I found this rock about a mile up river and it looked so comfortable to sit on I just had to move it here.” He said that it was just made for the ‘back side of a man’ and surely God had pointed it out to him as only He knew how tired he was getting. I tried it and it was comfortable but it fit Pop perfectly. For years after that, the rock was there for him and any other tired fisherman who came along. This was the only time I ever saw Pop sit and fish and he did it with God’s blessing.

Pop worked in the woods until he was 74 years old and died at 75, just a former shadow of the man I knew to be so strong as cancer had taken its dreadful toll on this wonderful man.

I would like to think that I have inherited some of his remarkable qualities but I don’t know. I have always said that if I could be no better than my dear old Pop, I would have succeeded in life beyond any of my wildest dreams.

Years later, my wife, Roz, and I visited Bly and went fishing on the old stream. What a change! All the beautiful willows were gone and the fishing was rotten. There was no shade for man, fish or beast. I looked for Pop’s rock but it was gone too.

I would like to think that when he died, God let him take his rock to Heaven and someday he and I will be fishing beside some Heavenly stream, catching Heavenly trout. Pop will be sitting on his rock and I will probably be lying down with my pole propped up on a willow fork. After all, I wouldn’t want to catch more fish than my wonderful old Dad.