The September meeting of the Ostrich Society is customarily one of the busiest meetings of the year causing the President’s garage – the official meeting place of the Society -to overflow with members, some of whom only make an occasional meeting and this is one of them. Tables are crammed into the two and a half car garage and occupied by guys of like interests and long time acquaintances.
The reason for this overflowing turnout is because September marks the end and beginning of activities that have been enjoyed and participated in for more years than most want to remember. Bill Mason, one of the oldest in attendance was holding court at one of the tables as Chet Krause was tying egg patterns on his home made vise. It was such an odd contraption, the newer members couldn’t understand why he had it, especially since he owned a car dealership and money wasn’t a concern. But, Chet was from the old school which taught him to stick with what works and that old vise had been holding hooks for over 40 years.
The conversation at the table centered around the annual salmon trip to the Betsie River. The “Shakers” as those sitting with Chet were known, were making final plans for their annual salmon camp. Chet was tying flies while Bill finalized the logistics and assigned each member going a job. When all assignments were handed out, they raised their glasses of two fingers of bourbon and toasted another year of what they hoped would be many more to come.
Across the room was the non-smoking section. Smoking wasn’t allowed not because they wanted to be politically correct, but because Al and Jake were reloading shotgun shells and there was gunpowder on the table. Al was loading 12 gauge shells on his Sizemaster re-loader and Jake was reloading 20’s. They had been saving hulls from past hunts and from skeet and trap rounds which others had contributed to as well. They liked to reload so it was their job to provide the shells for grouse camp which was about to take place the first weekend of October and last two weeks. There were nine regulars who made the trip and it was decided long ago that any new members who wanted to take part would have to be voted on by the original nine. Of course, there was criteria applicants had to meet, such as having a good grouse dog, only hunt with a double barrel shotgun and provide a case of fine bourbon as an initiation fee (the first two requirements could be waived by a majority vote).
Calling the meeting to order, the President announced that the October meeting would be canceled since none of the Board would be available because they were either at salmon or grouse camp, and some would divide their time between both camps. A motion was made by Lars to dispense with the usual business which passed unanimously.
After several hours of tying flies, reloading shells with plans having been finalized, all that remained was the usual closing of the meeting. The President made the comment that the Society ought to have a ceremony of sorts to mark this annual transition from “fins to feathers”. Horace McCain who was sitting at the tying table smoking his pipe filled with Cherry Blend tobacco, rose and as he walked over to a trash can to empty his pipe bowl, tripped over Jake’s lab and dropped the pipe from his mouth which landed on the reloading table spilling embers of lit tobacco onto the table and into loose grains of gunpowder that had fallen from the re-loaders and were now ignited by the lit tobacco. As the powder flashed, Al and Chet knocked over the sack of shells which rolled all over the garage floor, the dogs lying around the room were waiting for a “dead bird” command after smelling the burned gunpowder and Horace broke his glasses when he fell. Chet Krause ended up with hooks in his hand and the President began hitting the workbench with the hammer which substituted for a gavel all the while laughing uncontrollably..
“When I said we ought to have a closing ceremony, I didn’t mean for it to happen immediately.” He said.
Two more fingers of bourbon was poured and this account was entered into the official minutes of the Ostrich Society as THE TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH …..give or take a lie or two!