Originally published in the News-Graphic on Feb. 7, 1999.
I have often been asked where I get my ideas for this column. To be honest, many come from very unusual sources. An idea may come from a quote or sign I’ve seen while riding down the road, and sometimes even a TV commercial. But, most of them come from church services.
This week’s column may be the most unusual of all however. The thought comes from the beautiful old gospel hymn, “Shall We Gather at the River.” My church choir sang this hymn this past Sunday, and I thought what a beautiful place that will be. The Bible speaks of the beauty of heaven. There will be walls of jasper and streets of gold. There will be gates of pearls and foundations of precious stones. It will be more beautiful than anyone can imagine.
As I listened to the words of that old hymn, “Shall we gather at the tiger, the beautiful river that flows by the throne of God,” I thought that’s just where I want to be when I get to heaven. Right there on that river with my fishing pole. The gold streets and pearly gates will be something to behold, but just give me that beautiful, beautiful river. I can only imagine who will be there. Lonnie Kemper and Harry Lee Brockman will be nestled in the best spot, and there will be an old sycamore tree just like the one at Robinson’s Dam. Those two always did beat me to the best spot.
Ivan Wesley and Jake Kettenring will be casting a jitterbug just like the one they caught so many small mouth bass with just above the Crossing Dam. “Dogears” Gillispie will be wading in the shallow waters of that beautiful river with a bucketful of red eyes he’s caught on “go-devils.” And I can hardly wait to catch up with Daddy because I know he will be there with that old slouch hat on and a can of night crawlers sticking out of his back pocket. But fellow, don’t catch ‘em all. There are a lot of us old fishermen that will be there later. I know I will be there and so will Meddis Hay, Pete McDonald, Larry Harpole, “Duckeye” Hassloch and Dave Rodgers just to name a few.
The song says we will gather with the Saints at the river. I want to meet St. Peter when I get there. The Bible tells us he was quite a fisherman. One time he caught so many fish he couldn’t even lift them out of the water. Now, that’s the kind of fisherman I need to know.
You may wonder if all of us fishermen will qualify to meet at this river. Let me assure you that anyone who has experienced a lifetime of seeing the miracles of God along the banks of the Elkhorn will never be an atheist. Yes, we will gather at the river, the beautiful, beautiful river that flows by the throne of God.
George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. A collection of his columns, “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.