Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Voices from the Past: Jim Gilford

Jim Gilford wrote a column called "The Drumming Log" in The Frederick Post in the 1960s. At the time, one of his colleagues was a fly fishing fanatic named Lefty Kreh. At the end of 1965, Kreh was tapped to take over the Met, Florida's great saltwater fishing tournament. Gilford wrote this great piece to celebrate his friend's achievements.

The Drumming Log

by Jim Gilford

The last four months have been hectic ones for Lefty Kreh. And that's saving something for a guy who is always on the go.

It started early this summer with a phone call from Joe Brooks. Joe had met Lefty years ago, given him his first fly rod and taught him how to use it.

In the years that followed, years in which Joe was winning greatness n the angling world, he continued to encourage Lefty to develop his natural talent for fly

Now Joe was calling to tell Lefty that the director of the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament had died suddenly and tournament officials were lookng for a new man.

The Met is the largest and most publicized sport fishing contest in the world. It is sponsored by the Miami Herald to promote big game fishing and tourism in Florida.

Surprisingly, no big cash prizes are given. Contestants vie only for angling recognition.

The Met also emphasizes conservation. While trophies and citations are given for the biggest fish caught, the six most highly prized awards go to fishermen and boat captains that release unharmed the greatest number of fish not in the trophy class.

Starting in December and for the next seven months, the director of the Met and his staff plan and manage the tournament, watch over the competition, check weighing stations throughout Florida and the Caribbean, write news releases about the contest and handle the ever important job of public relations.

This would leave four month of the year for fishing hunting, free-lance writing and photography.

It would be a natural Lefty and the Met would be good for each other. Was Lefty interested in the job?

"You mean", asked Lefty "That they pay someone for doing that?"

More phone calls, an application, letters and a few anxious weeks of waiting followed. Other men were still in the running.

Finally, in mid July, Lefty was asked to go to Florida for a personal interview.

Shortly after this Met officials announced their selection. Lefty Kreh had been picked to be the fourth director in the 31 year history of this angling classic. He
would start work November 1.

There wasn't enough time after that for Lefty to do everything he wanted to do. He was holding a full time job with the government, writing a weekly outdoor
page for the Winchester, Va. paper and two outdoor columns each week for the News and Post.

A magazine article had to be finished, some new fly lines from Cortland had to be tried and a number of Fenwick experimental rods remained to be tested.

A weekend trip for one last look at the Eastern Shore, another to fish the upper Potomac and still others to the Susquehanna and the annual gathering on
Pennsylvania's limestone Le Tort ate up the time.

Baltimore, Annapolis,Washington, Harrisburg and all over Frederick he went, saying good-by to more friends than most men ever know. And then time ran out.

Last Tuesday, Lefty, Ev, Vickie and Larry moved to Miami.

Lefty Kreh will make an outstanding contribution as director of the Met. If he didn't have the personality, the talent and the self-confidence to do the job, he wouldn't have been picked.

You can be sure that wherever he goes, Lefty's smoothness with a shotgun, his colorful storytelling and his fascinating talent with a fly rod will always be the center of attraction.

But for me, Lefty has something more. His interest in people, young or old, regardless of position, and his willingness to share both his talents and his life are the marks that make him great.

I wonder what kind of place this would be if everyone would share the harvest of his talents with others as freely as Lefty shared his. It would be said many times again: Frederick will miss Lefty Kreh.

-- Dr. Todd

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