Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Voices from the Past: James Heddon (1906)

This article was written by none other than James Heddon and appeared in the June 1906 edition of The Northwestern Sportsman. It's an interesting story, but more than that, it gives us insight into Heddon's manufacturing. In 1906, James Heddon was engaging in the purchase of cardboard boxes for his lures from the Barger Box Company of Elkhart, Indiana. Interestingly, Barger is still in business today--and likely provided boxes for Heddon for many years beyond this.


Over in Elkhart, Ind., which is only about twenty-five miles from the home of the writer, Dowagiac, Mich., there is a business man by the name of Barger. Mr. Barger is engaged in paper box manufacturing, and makes good boxes, as we know, being one of his customers. But besides this, Mr. Barger is a genial gentleman and, more than all, an enthusiastic angler. There is only one blemish on Barger's sporting character. Up to the time of the occurrence I am about to relate, Barger thought he had to go a-hunting in order to go a-fishing. Nothing would catch bass like frogs. Now, Mr. Barger used to go over to a huge mill pond, four miles from here, that was at that time well stocked with bass. That was about three years ago. A lady who keeps a· boat livery and boards anglers, has her boat landing in a little bay of rather shallow water, and just up to the mouth of this bay a big four pound bass had his lair.

Barger fed this bass frogs all that summer. Every time he would pass by he would cast out two or three frogs which the lusty bass would adroitly remove from his hooks and gulp down to his evident satisfaction, and to an equal amount of annoyance to Barger, but he was getting fat, and sooner or later he would get hooked, Barger thought. But along in the latter part of summer the writer and another party went up and procured one of "Aunt Carrie's" boats and· started out of the bay casting an artificial bait, and this proved too many for Mr. Baas. He bit at it at once and the next morning on the table nicely fried. Incidently we spoke to the landlady about where we captured him, and she threw up both hands with a frightened look upon her face and said, "Oh! You caught Mr. Barger's bass. He fed him frogs ever since last spring. He will be much put out when he finds that bass is gone." Of course, we didn't do it a-purpose. If the landlady told us about the lair, the bass and Mr. Barger's kindness in feeding him frogs all summer, to be sure we wouldn't have cast that far better lure over in the direction we did. But we understand that our Mr. Barger has progressed and reformed, that he learned that there are better lures than frogs or live minnows, and he doesn't spend a large portion of his time hunting frogs before he is to fish for any more.

-- Dr. Todd

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