Unlucky victims need Christmas gift change
By Paul Bruun, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
December 5, 2012
The Salvation Army bell ringer in front of Sportsman’s Warehouse in Idaho Falls was tired. Yet the tinkling bell of a volunteer seeking support for this international charity signifies the Christmas season far more than hysterical Black Friday sales gimmicks, cold weather and colorful decorations.
Dropping my spare change into that traditional red bucket is a long-time habit learned from my father. Dad was from a tiny Ohio immigrant farming community that knew poverty and disease firsthand. His mother cared for and medicated sick neighbors, regularly marching past quarantine signs and delivering smallpox vaccine and other medicines she purchased with her own money for the less- fortunate.
Through his newspaper columns and other organizations, my father was a tireless fundraiser for Miami Children’s Hospital, the local Papanikolaou cancer clinic and endless school, summer camp and senior citizen projects. Dad never passed a Salvation Army bell ringer without dropping something in the bucket. “Of all the charities, I feel this one is the most consistent,” he’d explain.
Every time a disaster flattens people in a far off part of the world, I’m proud that lots of Americans put their money to work by supporting any number of charities that spring into action. Recent memory includes Haitian flooding, the devastating Japanese tsunami and the South Island New Zealand earthquakes.
Hurricanes a way of life
Remembering South Florida during the 1950s, where summer/fall hurricanes were a way of life, the wreckage from named storms often left our family camping for days without power in a tiny apartment. Fortunately, Royal Palm Ice Company was within easy walking distance, so our antiquated “ice box” kept some usable food to join a storehouse of canned supplies heated on a kerosene stove and eaten in lantern light. Structural damage was extensive, but at that time coastal states lacked the dense waterfront development they continue to build and that storm surges always devastate.
After Hurricane Katrina drowned much of Mississippi and Louisiana, that area appeared destined to remain a wasteland of broken lives, homes and businesses. Traveling through southeastern Louisiana a year later indicated that, despite FEMA trailers being parked everywhere, various church groups were the best functioning organizations. Field cafeterias were still serving food, and trained volunteer crews were rehabbing neighborhoods. Several friends acknowledged that, were it not for organized church intervention, the suffering would have been much greater.
It was impossible to locate Louisiana friends directly affected by Katrina. On the verge of contacting the parish sheriff’s office for information about a fishing guide pal, my Internet search of his wife’s mosquito control office provided a working email address. Power and communication for a portion of Slidell had been restored that day. She replied that they were fine. Their home and boats, though, were heavily damaged and were going to require a lot of work.
After Hurricane Sandy ripped into the Northeast, instant appeals for Red Cross donations via electronic methods were widespread. Our family planned to participate via the Red Cross. Two weeks ago, we learned that a good friend, veteran fishing and hunting guide Barry Kanavy, had survived Sandy, which had arrived on his wife’s birthday. Barry’s entire family (parents, son, daughters) were also safe.
That was the only good news. Barry’s Long Island home in Seaford, N.Y., as well as his parents’ house across the street, his boatyard and waterfowl hunting house on the Great South Bay all teeter between wrecked and totaled.
Barry was filling out FEMA documents when I finally caught up with him by phone. He and his wife are staying at a long-time fishing client’s house that’s 70 miles from his place. He and his son, who is also guiding duck hunters, are trying to get their boats operational to generate some income as they plunge into the mountainous repairs they face.
During my last trip to Long Island, Barry introduced me to the legend and lore of Montauk Point, the fall striped bass blitz and its storied landmark lighthouse. Ever since first seeing Montauk light on the cover of an ancient Ashway Line Co. catalog I collected as a kid, it was important to fish there. The weather was downright ugly, so during the heavier storms we had a marvelous time escaping to fisherman bars, restaurants, marine and tackle stores. After mutual friend Sam Talarico arrived with an ice chest full of fresh clams and seafood, we ate like kings in the rented place Barry bases out of during the fall blitz. And true to his professional Irish roots, Barry’s digs even featured a keg of Guinness on tap.
Reading about Sandy’s disastrous effects heaped on our honest, hard-working countrymen is upsetting, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas season. For our family, feeling good this December won’t happen until we stop shopping to donate to trusted disaster relief groups, earmarking special amounts specifically for Sandy Relief. These will include the Salvation Army (Donate.salvationarmyusa.org/disaster), Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (NAMB.net/dr) and American Red Cross (RedCross.org/charitable-donations).
Better yet, book a trip
If my skills included facility at any trade, it would be an honor to load the Dodge pickup with tools and head over to help Captain Barry begin rebuilding. Instead of being a hindrance to the Kanavy family, however, a wiser solution is for me to invest now in a Long Island black duck hunt or a future striped bass trip. Look over Barry’s Natural Anglers website (NaturalAnglers.com/charter, or call 516-785-7171) and contact him at CaptainBarryK@mac.com to join me.
Remember, it’s Christmas.
TU talks Flat Creek
Discover the latest stream enhancement scheme for Flat Creek, to be facilitated by Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited and other cooperating agencies, at the Jackson chapter’s 2012 winter mixer, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Q Roadhouse.
Darren Kleiman, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited president, invites interested local trouters to hear speakers elaborate on Flat Creek plans on the National Elk Refuge. Lara Sween-ey, Wyoming Game and Fish habitat biologist, Paul Santavy, refuge deputy manager, and Ryan Colyer and Tom Campbell from Biota Research will make presentations. The event features a cash bar and appetizers.
Contact Kleiman for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 690-7642.
Paul Bruun writes weekly on his adventures and misadventures in the great outdoors.