“I grew up on a working man's wage…”
Dateline: The Banks Of Lake Lanier
“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts.”
I grew up on a workingman’s block.
Grew up in a home built by a workingman for a workingman, the distance between each house, about one and a half Chevy Impalas wide.
All the picture windows on the street lined up facing each other, they did so for better or for worse.
Up and down four times with the lawn mower took care of the front yard, the backyard had a blow up pool, a picnic table with splinters and the whispers of the other neighbors in other yards.
I grew up on a workingman’s block, and I carry it to this day within my heart.
Just so you know.
“…blood, sweat and tears…”
“I speak to everyone the same, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
- Albert Einstein
A young boy with a fishing pole walked silently by me, eyes focused only on the waters of Lake Lanier and not on the crowd in front of the Bassmaster Elite Series stage.
The closer he got to the lake the slower he walked, the rod in his hands turned in concert with where his eyes took in the gentle waves.
And following the curve of the path, he suddenly went out of sight, so I tagged behind him to see where would be his fishing spot.
As I too followed the path I suddenly came in sight of Robert sitting out on a long dock. He sits out there waiting for the Elite boats to “check in” at their allotted time, and every 15 minutes or so it goes from tranquility…
…to this, several Elite boats announcing they're on time, each boat Robert knows by sight. To each Elite angler he gives a slight nod to let them know he’s seen them and that they are in on time, and soon to be up on stage.
It is when I put the camera with the long lens down from my eye that I see the young man only a few feet away from me…
…fishing off the dock.
“Hi what’s your name?”
“Joseph what? And you don’t have to call me sir.”
“Joseph Horne, sir.”
Talk about divine intervention…
“Call me db, not sir.”
“Ok db, sir.”
“Hey I’m doing a story with your father, but I don’t know what boat he is in, when he comes by could you point him out to me.”
I’m standing there watching him cast to the shore, watching as every time he hears a boat he looks up, looks up to the sound of something my eyes can’t even see.
“There he is ...” and with that he starts running down the dock …
… and pointing towards the horizon, oh to have young eyes once again …
… within moments, his father Harvey Horne comes by Robert at check in and in a very subtle, yet universal symbol within the Elite family, smiles at his son on the dock and shows him his hand with all five fingers showing.
And the young boy smiles, dad, today, caught a limit of five fish.
With that, rod and reel in hand he sprints past me and back up the path to Elite stage to be in the crowd when dad weighs in.
It is exactly how this story played out. It is a story about a plumber and his son, but it comes with a twist, here we go.
“…on every dollar he made…”
By trade, Harvey Horne is a plumber and certainly not used to, or comfortable with, stuff like this … big-time picture taking.
“I went to school and became a journeyman plumber, worked mainly new construction, new high rise buildings, industrial type plumbing.”
Harvey, one of our new Elites, learned the workingman model from his grandfather, “He used to give me a list of chores to do on his farm every day. I’d wake up and there was always work to do, but when the work was done to his satisfaction he’d let me jump on my bicycle and go fishing.”
My notes are sort of messed up, but I think this is right (truth in reporting). Harvey grew up in Monroe, La., but a while back moved to Arkansas when his wife of 21 years, Rhonda, got a pretty cool job with Walmart.
They have two children, 16-year-old daughter Caney (named after Harvey’s favorite small creek in south Arkansas), and the young boy I met, 11-year-old Joseph.
“db, he actually has three names. It’s Joseph Philip Marshall Horne. He’s named after both grandfathers I was close with and a very close friend of mine who passed when he was 18 years old.”
Harvey is a deeply religious man. “I inherited that from my grandfather. I come to peace when I’m out on the water, the tranquility of it, the being in nature and just the respect that overwhelms you if you take the time to just observe.”
In 2018 he qualified for the Elites, “But you know it just wasn’t the right time for me and my family. Don’t know what it was, but it worked out in the way I believe God wanted it to work out, hold a year and come this year, no other real explanation.”
“…for the little he earned…”
And now he is here, but not before a major twist in his life, “I put plumbing on hold and became a stay-at-home dad.”
Rhonda’s job at Walmart started taking off right around the time a new baby came into their family … you know who.
“It may sound weird, but I didn’t want to miss my children growing up. I wanted to be there with them, for them as much as possible so I stepped away from plumbing, which I love, but I just loved them more.”
Even now as he says that there is a slight hitch in his voice.
“db, sir (yep him too) I was there for his first steps. I was there to hear his first word.”
My father was not.
Neither was I.
If God is scoring things, Harvey wins.
“…there was so much he gave…”
I have great children, very proud of them both, the checkmark though goes in my wife’s column.
To be honest sometimes it’s pretty tough to sit there and hear them talk about events, or things that happened when they were young, and I wasn’t there for what they are talking about.
It’s a bond missed.
“You know your son? I met him on the dock, told him to call me db, but even when he did that it was, ‘Yes sir, db.'”
“Both my children are respectful that way, and in other ways, they will call you sir. I call you sir (he does) it’s just respect. It’s something my grandfather instilled in me and something I passed down through my family, respect for others.”
“…and I hope I am worthy…”
“I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
- Jackie Robinson
I’m going to spin this story a different way here because I think a shout-out is needed.
Hang with me.
As I was on the dock taking photos of Joseph and Harvey there came from behind me shouts and clapping, loud clapping and very loud shouts.
When I turned to see who was making the commotion I saw these guys …
… who to be honest had they knocked on the door to take my daughter out I would have probably shut the door on them, except maybe for the dude in the Buffalo Bills cap.
Except for one thing, as I watched they continued shouting and clapping and bowing for one reason, one person, one Elite angler in a boat who was idling by them … Rick Clunn.
As the other boats idled by, they clapped and smiled and talked between themselves as they sat on top of a break wall watching, but when Rick came into view they stood …
“You have to respect him, sir…” I have no idea who said it, they all pretty much spoke at the same time, “…he is the master we’ve followed him all our lives...” which would be 18, 19 and 20 years. “… we’ve been fishing since we were kids (which in fact they still are) fished in high school, this is our lake, we have had Bassmaster Magazine all our lives. He’s just the best. How do you not show the man some respect?”
Every word they said (and to be honest I never even got their names) to me, every gesture to me and the Elite anglers who idled by was filled with nothing but respect, nothing but yes sir, no sir, a lesson to me, and maybe others.
Books, covers, telephoto lens, only part of the story, many times just a small part.
As I talked to these guys it became apparent just how cool and respectful they were, and how much they loved fishing, bass fishing.
They were actually a joy to be around, so I said to them, “Come with me for a minute, you doing anything the next couple of days.”
“No sir, took off from work.”
“Working at Wendy’s for the next few days.”
“Can you get off.”
Sometimes, maybe we should do it more than just sometimes, but at least this time, respect was about to get rewarded.
It just so happened that we had a couple of open spots for the next few days of the tournament, open spots to ride with an Elite angler as an “observer,” up close and personal with the best view of how it’s done in the house.
And guess who got those spots? Two of these young men.
It was a simple thank you from an old man to young men who showed respect in a time and place where that’s lost on many.
I am the son of a workingman.
I am the son of a workingman who respected others no matter their place or their face.
Scratch one up for those who wear collars of blue over hearts of gold.
(see you at The Classic)
“…of a working man's wage.”
Working Man’s Wage
“If we lose love and self-respect for each other, this is how we finally die.”
- Maya Angelou