The Old Men and the Rod
A Tale of Two Papas
By Jeff Beyl
When I was a kid my father insisted that I read certain writers. He said that doing so would contribute to my proper upbringing and help make a man outa me. I know, I know, but back then fathers said that kind of thing to their sons. So I grew up on a steady diet of Jules Vern, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London and, most important, Ernest Hemingway. My father sat me down to read The Old Man and the Sea when I was about ten. That was followed by an assortment of Nick Adams stories, followed by A Farewell to Arms, followed by For Whom the B—well, you get the idea.
Years ago, this magazine published my story about a fly rod that belonged to Ernest Hemingway and then it belonged to my father, who was also named Ernest (see “Hemingway’s Fishing Rod,” IDAHO magazine, December, 2016). My father is gone now and left the rod to me, which inspired me to write more about it.
It’s seven-and-a-half feet long and made of black fiberglass with red wrappings and a cork handle darkened from use. My father used it only twice, so if I follow this line of thought, the cork handle has been darkened by Hemingway’s hand and thus, presumably may have his DNA embedded in it. As a Hemingway fan from way back, I think that’s cool. If this were a sci-fi story, maybe some mad scientist could use the DNA to recreate him. He could write another novel, perhaps a few more short-stories.