Fishing With Jon

As a kid I had the pleasure of being invited to go fishing with Jon and Erik out to Seiku on multiple occasions.  We would go salmon fishing either for silvers or pinks a.k.a. humpys.  With his lone brown propane driving truck, he somehow managed to get the trailer and boat out there so we could stay in the "comfort" of the trailer and have the boat ready to go in the morning.  Making stuff happen like that without bothering kids with the details is one of the many miracles parents provide for their kids.  I remember one night standing outside the camper eating dinner fascinated with the Coleman lantern and how it would be lit.  Jon did not disappoint.  He made sure those mantles were well saturated before wasting a match trying to get it lit.  It blew up like the 4th of July causing us all to crack up laughing in the new found light we had at our table.

In the morning as we were eating oatmeal at a pace that young kids do at 0500, Jon would be running around getting everything ready to go for the day so all Erik and I had to do was jump in the boat and head out.  We were excited to go fishing but didn't have the same get up and go that Jon did during those God awful early hours.  He his catch phrase to motivate us was often, "Come on!  We're burning daylight!!!!"

Jon wanted to increase the odds of us continuing to fish with him as we got older so he did as much as possible for us kids in the boat.  We didn't wait to touch the nasty bait (ESPECIALLY power bait) or pull the hook from the fish's mouth, or touch it to put it in the cooler and Jon glading did it all.  So in between baiting our lines, reeling in our fish, netting our fish and driving the boat, Jon would grab a few bites of lunch that magically appeared (another childhood miracle that adults provide for children).  Now, I grew up with parents who were on the more bleach and hand sanitizer end of the germaphobic spectrum so I was always fascinated and a little horrified when I would watch Jon eat his food with scales covering his hands as if they sequins on a showgirls' outfit on the Vegas strip.  But he simply didn't have time and frankly didn't care to wash his hand in the middle of all the fun we were having.

I remember one particular morning the fog was pea soup and we found ourselves in the shipping lanes.  We could see the big container ship but we could hear the fog horn getting closer and closer and before we knew it we could hear the waves breaking on the ship's bow.  The compass just happened to be broken that day but Jon quickly fired up the engine and headed away from the ship.  Once we got a safe distance away, he asked Erik and I which way shore was.  We all answered at the same time with different directions.  We fished until the fog broke and we could see where land was then headed in for the day.  

I also remember heading out to the west end and Jon knowing seemingly everyone out there.  We would stop for dinner and a cafe and the owner would come out to greet him.  The people at the bait shop knew him by name and gave him the latest scoop on the fishing conditions.  On one trip we stopped over at a fellow pharmacist's house whose wife's face looked like it had been hit with a Mac truck.  It was as black and blue and as swollen as anything my 12 year old self had ever see.   When we got in the truck to head out the camper I had a ton of questions about her.  Jon patiently and without any judgement explained she had just had a face lift and educated me on how it was done.  I remember him demonstrating how they peel the forehead down by gripping his own face and squinting his eyes in an attempt to further my understanding.  It was hysterical.

I wish that I could have taken my kiddos out fishing with Jon.  We would have had a blast.  They would have loved the enthusiasm, knowledge and humor he brought to the water.

-Anna Swanberg