That's my main man Al. If you know me, know my blog, been to one of my presentations....then you know Al. I love this guy, and today is his 90th birthday, so Happy Birthday Al !!!! I will say he is my best 90 year old friend ( he his my only 90 year old friend !!).
I met Al 4 or 5 years ago when I first started sniffing around his usual haunts. When I say usual, I mean 50 plus years usual. I have heard and learned so much from him over the years. He told me that it took him five years to catch his first striped bass. He started in the late 1940's ( I was born in 1968) and landed his first striper in August 1952. It was 6 pounds and he caught it at 'The Pipe" at Wreck Pond.
I have spent so much time with Al that as I went through my archives I found so many pictures I had to edit down what I was going to share. Al will love this blog post, his lovely wife of 60 years Evelyn will hate it, not to see that Al is so loved, but that the attention will go to his head and he will be unbearable!
I remember one early morning in Allenhurst and we were fishing in July, one of our favorite things, popping up summer bass at first light. So Al catches a schoolie and I am of course going to take a picture, it would make for good blog fodder. As I am looking through the lens I get a glimpse in something I didn't notice before. His bright baggy Hawaiian swimming trunks with those two trim and
fit legs sticking out of them. That pic made the blog, but I did shoot a horizontal, less the shorts also.
I love to arrive in the dark and see Al's Audi already parked and non one inside, that means he's already fishing. Sometimes I will sneak down and just watch and wonder what a almost (at that time) 90 year old man thinks about as he casts a fly into the ocean. Life, family, after life?.....no Al is thinking about the bait and the bass. He has done so many things and had so many accomplishments, but his
treasure is his family. This past weekend I had the privilege of joining them for his Surprise 90th Party at the Molly Pitcher. He was surprised, the place was great, just about everyone he knew and loved was there, and, the best part, there wasn't a dry eye in the house when his kids and grand kids got up to reminisce and thank him. His granddaughter got me with the "walk in the park feeding the ducks!".
I remember one day Al I were on the boat. It was December and it started out slow. Then it got good, and then it got great. Beautiful day, flat water, lots of birds bait and bass. One of my favorite images of Al is him holding the below bass because both he and the fish have the same expression!
One other thing I noticed while pouring through all of my pics of Al......I think he has one lucky fishing shirt. It's the blue, light blue and battered, Columbia shirt. The pants, shorts, waders and footwear may change but the shirt is always on. Okay, this is a salute not a roast!
But if I had to pick some of my favorite times with Al, it would be those with the rods on our laps or the butts resting on top of our shoes. We talk a lot about fishing, but we also talk a lot about life. It is inspiring to have met such a great man. To be so passionate about his family and life, and yes, fishing at his tender age of 90 is awesome.
I watched the other day as family member after family member spoke so highly of him (and Evelyn too) that I wondered to myself if I have, or will I ever, touch and move people to tears as he did. I hope one day to be able to listen as my adult grandchildren raise a glass and thank and cheer me.
I hope to be so loved, and, hope to still be catching striped bass, for me, in 44 years at 90!
Thanks Al and HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!!!!