The World at Large…
…and Not so Large
Our beautiful world is troubled right now. Don’t be alarmed. this is not a political column. But just because most of us who write for this magazine and/or read it are passionate about old fishing tackle, and vintage wooden ducks, and sporting art, and the “Golden Age” of outdoor life filled with hunting and fishing… Just because that’s who we are, deep down inside, and on the surface, too. That doesn’t mean that when it comes to the affairs of the world that we live in, that we shouldn’t be concerned and informed.
And, of course, we are concerned… and informed, too; though being accurately informed these days, with so many different versions of reality to pick from, is no easy task. But we are up to it; it’s just not pleasant work. And besides, I’d rather focus on the stuff that we collect and on the historic “Golden Age” that it came from. But the truth is that we live in a world today that is “at risk,” in many different ways.
Yet, human history is a long story; it’s just that we have this paradox, this conundrum… that human intelligence (science) has brought us to the brink of, on the one hand, being able to save (and fix, cure) everything, and on the other hand, being able to destroy everything.
Though it’s hard for me to believe, I’m old enough to remember (as a young adult back then) the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” I lived in Pensacola, Florida, “Home of the Blue Angels,” (the U.S. Navy’s incredible flight demonstration team) and the main Training Base for U.S Naval Aviation. I had friends at the base and we talked a lot.
Florida is a “next door” neighbor to Cuba. We had “serious” aircraft in the air 24-7 during the “Crisis.” Really bad things could have happened; but, fortunately, they didn’t. Looking back, however, by comparison between “then” and “now,” there really isn’t any logical comparison. Our world today is vastly more combustible, the fuse for igniting, vastly shorter.
But enough of that somber stuff. The Holiday Season is at hand… and the office stereo just played “The Age of Aquarius.” You remember that upbeat song. “When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, Age of Aquarius! Harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding. No more falsehoods or derisions Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in!”
So, we’ve been talking about “The World at Large.” Let’s shift gears and think about our every-day “Smaller World.” This new issue of H&FC Magazine goes to our printer tomorrow, and just about the last thing I always do at this stage is to give Bekki the “blurbs” that go at the bottom of the cover – four or five little phrases that give readers a quick sneak preview of the articles that are inside.
It’s always hard to decide which articles should be highlighted on the cover because “I like ‘em all.” But we try to show some “balance” with the blurbs so that readers will know at a glance that they’re going to find at least a few articles that match-up with their particular interests. So, as I sort through the list of new articles, I’m reminded all over again of their content. Like, oh yes, this is Dr. Irwin’s story about the Ward Brothers. He takes us right back to their carving shop…Made me feel like I was right there with them, watching them work!
And so on, with all of the articles, as I review them in my mind to determine what the blurbs on the cover will be. There was the email and phone call from Dennis Emerson… Right out of the blue, a first-time contact. “Just wanted to tell you that I have a few hundred really old sporting magazines, lots of them going back to the late 1800s. Didn’t know if you would be interested in doing an article about them.”
And there was the chance discovery, on my part, of an ad that ran in a recent issue of Yankee Magazine. It touted the virtues of a 100-plus year-old fishing camp lodge in northwest Maine, the Attean Lake Lodge. The name rang a bell for me and prompted me to sort through a box of vintage postcards and other hunting and fishing ephemera that I purchased a year ago from a subscriber who had collected it over a period of more than forty years. Lo and behold, right there in the box was a 20-page booklet, printed some 90 years ago, advertising this very lodge. You will find some of the pages from this old booklet reproduced in this issue. Also, this issue’s cover photo is an Attean Lake postcard postmarked 1904. Talk about “living history.”
Then, too, in working on my “Sibley Update” article about a pair of redheads (H&FC – Mar-Apr 2006), I discovered that before Jim Trimble found them in a batch of Upper Chesapeake birds more than ten years ago, they had belonged to Joe French.
Many persons outside our hobby/business, that is so focused on the “Golden Age” of yesteryear (1870-1930), probably don’t understand our fascination, if not downright fixation, with the history and artifacts of a bygone era. It must seem very remote indeed to a generation that lives and breathes with computers and cell phones, automated this and automated that. Robots are here to stay and have already cost our world thousands (probably hundreds-of-thousands) of jobs.
I’m not saying that “Progress is bad.” But I would suggest that what goes these days as “AI” (computer based Artificial Intelligence) may, in the long run, be “artificial” in more ways than one.
I can’t sign off here without paying tribute to Rick Edmisten (with Mark Ward and Phil Beguhl) for his lengthy tenure with H&FC. He has served our readers for 10 years with his always interesting column, “Whatsit? What’s It Worth?” He writes us saying, “Sorry to say I have to give up my article. Health issues, etc., make it too much for me, but I have enjoyed my 10 years and hope the mag has a good long run.”
Happy Collecting, Everybody!