Tuesday, July 18, 2023

07.18.23 Hangin' with the Trenton boys...

     This was a great day. So I met Bob Popovics around 2010. I met Joe "Delaware Joe" Chivarone in 2021. And I met Joe Armenti earlier this year. All old salts. All into fly fishing. All from Trenton. Like back in the day Trenton, 1950's, 60's, 70's. While they shared the same streets, they didn't share the same schools, but one thing Chivarone and Popovics shared was baseball. 

     The three of them reconnected briefly at The Fly Fishing Show a few years ago. Once I learned from Joe they all knew each other I wanted to have a get together at The Shady Rest. So today was the day. I drove over to Joe's, and then we drove over to the other Joe's, and then headed to Bayville. Along the way the two in the front seats sounded like little kids talking about fishing, there were some stories...

    We got to the Shady and settled in to a table where we would spend the next several hours. Bob let me know he "was looking for something" and when he came down he was sweaty, but all smiles. He had found what he was looking for. 

    So what Bob had found was several newspaper clippings from a few years ago, like over 60. Bob and Joe played both Little League and Babe Ruth baseball together in Trenton in the late 1950's and 1960's. Joe tells me that Bob was a "Beast", no pun intended. He made Bob out to be a huge like man in a boys body, crushing home runs and throwing 

pitches 100 miles per hour. Bob didn't remember all that but did remember Joe playing shortstop and leading off setting the table for the slugger Popovics. Back in the day in the city of Trenton these games 

were a big deal. Ward vs ward. Kids from this side of the tracks playing the kids from the other side for bragging rights. The crowds were huge. There was press coverage- with a reporter and photographer assigned to the games. Below are some of the clips that Bob had found up in the attic of the restaurant. 

     Now the other Joe was a sportsman also, just not baseball with these two. Joe Armenti comes from a deep Trenton family, one very involved in politics, in fact Joe's dad was once the Mayor of Trenton. Joe opened a fly shop in Trenton in the Chambersburg section. It was opened in 1973 and closed in 1978. Joe ran tying lessons in the shop and almost all of his shop was geared to trout fly fishing. He doesn't remember anyone fly fishing the Delaware for striped bass. The city boys who did fish for striped bass mainly made their way down to the beach, usually with herring on board. Joe is a serious fly tyer. He 

ties commercially and in the winter Joe and I paid his fly tying den a visit. It is something to be envious of. And the best part, it's all organized. Joe sends his flies down south to guides in Florida and the tropics. I should have thought of him before I ordered some redfish flies online for our trip later this week, but more on that later. 

     It was time to eat and the boys loved the clam chowder, the broiled flounder, I had the fish and chips, and of course Bob couldn't help but make us an old tomatoe pie topped with sausage. That was one good pie, in fact, that may have been my first Shady pie. 

     And for desert it was all about the Beast Fleyes. What was interesting was listening to Bobby explain to Joe how he made the transition from Trenton city kid to Jersey Shore transplant and then one of the greatest innovators in fly design and tying. So I just sat and listened and took it all in. 

     As I sat I just watched and thought how are we going to be able to hold on to all of the stories and history about fly fishing and fly tying. There are books. There are some podcasts. It's usually the same thing over and over. I think somehow the best way to learn and retain is to be lucky enough to meet, spend time with, and befriend all of those who walked the beach, crawled on the jetties, and bellied up to the vice before we did. We can all benefit from the the failures and successes of those before us, both in fishing, and in life. Most older guys are willing, and look forward, to spending time and sharing their stories. Today was just a great day to be the young guy, with more listening than talking from me going on.