I had the good privilege of traveling to Lancaster a couple of weekends back.

Lancaster, pronounced “Lank’cas ster” by some, and “Lanks’ ster” by most who are from there, is a quiet community tucked away between Gordonsville and Center Hill Dam on State Highway 264. The occasion was a fish fry in support of 6th District United States Congressman John Rose.

It was a perfect day for the event, mild temperatures graced the sun-drenched countryside. But as I prepared to make the drive from Hartsville, my mind was 60 years or more away.

As a boy, I had made the trip from our farm in Carthage to Center Hill Lake on fishing outings with my father many times. There were four of us boys, so we got to go two at a time. Fishing with my father holds some of my fondest boyhood memories.

Before I reached Carthage, I had already gotten ahead of myself. I recalled how Old Highway 52S once meandered through South Carthage on its way to Gordonsville. And in my mind’s eye, I traveled through Gordonsville and crossed the railroad tracks on the east side of town. Then, I relived taking the circuitous route which led up and down and around by Temperance Hall, through Lancaster, and on to Center Hill Dam. You might say that I arrived in Lancaster that day before I got there.

When my brothers and I were growing boys, my mother was in charge of waking us on mornings when there was hay to be hauled, Johnson grass to be chopped, and tobacco to be worked.

Some mornings it was hard for her to get us going. But on the days we were going fishing, my father would come to our bedroom door in the wee hours of the morning and whisper, “Boys, let’s go.” We would kick the cover off the bed.

A day of fishing with Frank McCall held much promise. Not only was he a skilled and patient teacher ... he was simply a pleasure to be around.

I think I enjoyed straight-line fishing for crappie most. To me, there is hardly anything more beautiful that a big, black, slab crappie lying on its side at the top of the water. Casting for largemouth bass was much more challenging, especially for boys.

I promise, on the days we fished for bass, our father spent more time getting us unhung than he did fishing. I couldn’t count the times he cradled the handle of the boat paddle in the crook of his arm and pulled the boat into shore to retrieve a tangled fishing plug, which was usually hung up in a tree limb. And he would always tease, “Boys, are you fishin’ or squirrel huntin’?”

And then, there was the food. Stopping for lunch might have been the high point of the day. I don’t believe boloney and crackers ever tasted so good.

And there were 16-ounce Pepsis (in returnable bottles), Beanee Weenees, canned sardines, (one of my father’s favorites), sliced cheese, and — to top it all off — a dime cake. I have to explain … when soft drinks and candy bars only cost a nickel, a 10-cent cake was a big deal.

There were Banana Flips, Jim Jams, Snow Ball, Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies, and Dolly Madison French Pastries (cream-filled in chocolate or vanilla).

For this country boy, if just for a day, it was like dining at the king’s table.

So, on that Saturday afternoon in Lancaster, I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, and enjoying some great food. But you might say that I spent most of my thinking time wetting a hook.

I must admit … the fishing has never been better.

Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.

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