The working stiffs of St. Croix Rods

“Working hard to make a living…”

Dateline: Park Falls, Wisconsin


Upfront, full disclosure, open book so you know, if you look on the top and the sides of this column you’ll see advertising for St. Croix Rods, they sponsor this column, the money goes to B.A.S.S., not to me, no one from either company has told me what to say, how to say it, or what to write about…if they did I wouldn’t write this story.

I went to St. Croix to see who exactly it was attaching themselves to the words I write, I have that right, I’ll be doing more of these here’s why…I think it’s important that you know, that you see the faces of the people who make the stuff you use.

For almost two decades I covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, NBA, Olympics and NASCAR at ESPN Sportscenter and for the show, Outside The Lines. I wrote what I saw, and never once cared what any of the leagues thought, all of whom spent a ton of money with ESPN.

That outlaw approach hasn’t changed, I write it as I see it, B.A.S.S. choses whether to run it or not, that’s how it is, this story is not about fishing rods, but the people who make them.

Now with that out of the way, here we go…

“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.”
~Margaret Mead

The smell of Lava soap, makes me homesick.

Grandpa’s name was Clay, and he worked in dirt all his life.

Clay made the sand molds for toilets that went into fancy homes he was never invited into, he rode the steel that built the corporate headquarters that would buy and sell his life.

His hands were bent, broken and cracked but never hurt enough to stop picking me up under my arms and being a human whirly-gig for a 4 year old.

Every hug came with dust and a story.

I knew of foremen before I could count to four.

I stood once on the yellow plastic kitchen chair to try and reach up and punch the kitchen clock, “just like Grandpa punches his time clock.”

Grandpa fed me and my family and anyone else on the block, “needing three squares.”

Grandpa, and millions like him, built this joint we call, America.

Grandpa was a working stiff, a tough life lived proud.

I have in me the soul of a working stiff.

In my heart I know all I am is a blue collar guy who learned how to type with hands that once smelled of Lava soap.

“…bringing shelter from the rain…”

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
~Stephen King

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