America Moves Towards War
Civil War Talk at the Fishing Hole
Located on a tract of land near the Drieborg Farm was a good sized pond. Some would call it a lake. During the hot summer members of the nearby families would use it to cool off with a swim, or maybe use poles and hooks to catch fish.
Michael Drieborg and his teenaged friends, Willie Turbush and Ethan Schock, would meet there to fish and talk whenever they could get away from farm chores and weren’t in school.
Today, they were seeking relief from harvesting corn on their parents’ farms. Every farm in the Lowell, Michigan area grew that crop and it was time for the fall harvest. School was closed so the boys and girls could help out at home. By Friday noon most of the fields had been cleared and the corn cribs were full.
So their parents had given the boys the afternoon off. The three boys headed to the pond. In late October, it was too chilly to swim but still perfect for fishing. Willie and Ethan were already sitting on the bank with their fishing lines in the water.
“What do you think is keeping Drieborg?” Willie wondered.
“Who knows?” Ethan responded. “His papa is a tough one if you ask me. He probably had one more chore for Mike.”
It wasn’t long before they heard someone coming through the woods that surrounded the pond. It was the missing teenager of their group, Michael Drieborg.
“Good thing you weren’t trying to sneak up on us, Drieborg. I could hear you coming a mile away,” Willie said, making fun of his friend.
Ethan joined in the fun. “All that noise you were making, no wonder we haven’t gotten any bites. The fish could hear you tramping through the woods, for sure.”
“That’s very funny, you two,” Michael responded. “How many times have we fished here this year? And, how many keepers have either of you caught? I’ll tell you how many. I can count them on the fingers of one had, that’s how many. So, don’t give me that guff about noise.”
Mike nudged Willie. “Move over, Turbush. Give me some room here.”
“What are you using for bait today, Ethan?”
“What else, worms of course,”
“I brought along some stale bread my momma was going to give the pigs. Want to try some of that for bait?”
“Who ever heard of using bread”” Willie exclaimed. “Fish in this pond are partial to worms. You can keep your state bread.”
“All right, you two,” Michael said. “Tell you what. Whoever catches the most keepers gets all the fish to take home. It will be my bread against your worms. How about it; is it a bet?”
“No contest, Drieborg. Kiss your catch goodbye. Right, Ethan?”
The boys were silent for a while. Each one was hoping to be the first to catch a keeper.
“Hey, you guys,” Willie suddenly asked. “Are you two going to join up when the war starts?”
“What war?” Drieborg asked.
“You must have been absent from school when Clingman told us about the war, Mike.”
“Will you tell me what war you’re talking about?”
“He said he has been getting letters from relatives down south saying that if Lincoln is elected, a whole bunch of the cotton states will leave the Union. Then there will be a war.”
Michael still had questions. “Did he say why there would be a war?”
“He didn’t get into that much except that his relatives figured Lincoln would try to stop those states from leaving the Union by using force; that’s why he said there would be a war.”
“I’d join up in a minute,” Ethan said. “Anything to get off the farm; sides, it would be great fun.”
“You could get killed, Schock,” Mike warned him.
:Are you scared, Mike?” Willie taunted.
“Maybe I am,” Mike snapped back. “Just seems to me that war means battles and battles mean killing. I don’t see much fun in that. Besides, why does anyone care if the Slave States leave the Union?”
Schock answered. “Now that you mention it, Mike. I don’t rightly know.”
Willie added, “Must be pretty important though if our teacher, Mr. Clingman says there’ll be a war. He’s a pretty smart guy.”
“Hey! I got a bite,” Willie shouted pulling up on his pole. Sure enough, he had. The boys saw a good-sized fish break the surface of the pond attached to his line by a hook.
“How about that Drieborg?” he bragged. “My worm did the trick.”
Ethan laughed, too. ‘Want to use some of my worms, Mike?”
“I don‘t see you catching any keepers, Ethan,” Mike answered.
Then the boys settled down to some serious fishing.
Ethan Schock was the first to break the silence.
“Hey, Mike. How’d you like it when you were with Louise in the barn?”
“that’s sort of private, don’t you think?”
Wilie laughed out loud. “Crying out loud, Drieborg, don’t be so touchy. Ethan and I have been with Louise, too. In fact, every one of the boys at school older than you twelve year old brother Jacob has been to the barn with Louise. And it’s never a secret either. ‘Cause afterwards, Louise brags about it to all the girls at school. I’m sure she told your sisters. My sister knows about you spending some time with Louise.
“Oh my gosh,” Mike exclaimed. “If either of my sisters ever tells my parents, I’m in real trouble.”
Willie had two older sisters at home. “If I know sisters, Mike; and oh, yes, do I know sisters. They’ll wait for just the right moment to tell your parents how evil their little son is. They might do it to get even for something you said or because you wouldn’t do something they asked of you. Or maybe its jus that time of the month when girls seem most irritable. Just you wait, Mike. But you can count on it. One of them will tell.”
Mike fell back on the grass. “You sure know how to ruin a guy’s afternoon, Willie,” Mike groaned. What happened to you when your father found out?”
“Out in our barn, he took a strap to me. All the while he was whipping me he told my how stupid I had been. Believe me, outside the classroom, I haven’t been within a mile of Louise or her barn since; and I won’t be wither.”
“What an afternoon this has turned out to me,” Mike said. “The fish are ignoring my state bread bait. Ethan tells me our country will be at war soon and Willie tells me I’m probably going to get a whipping from my father for going to the barn with Louise. Thanks a lot, you two.”
Willie wasn’t finished funnin’ with his friend. “It could be worse, Mike.”
“How could it be worse?”
“There could be a war and you joined the army.”
“I suppose that could be worse,” Mike agreed.
Ethan jumped into the kidding around and said, “There’s something a lot worse than that.”
“What could be worse than going off to fight a war?” Willie asked.
“Louise saying one of us is the father of her child. That’s what.”
“Oh my gosh,” Mike exclaimed in alarm. “She could do that, couldn’t she?”
No one spoke after that. Mike even ignored the fish pulling at the bait on his hook.