Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Great Friendship of Dave Cook & Courtney Riley Cooper, Part II

The friendship between Courtney Ryley Cooper and Dave Cook was genuine. The 1940 Cook catalog in which the eulogy penned by Cook and reprinted yesterday gave his view of his departed friend; the catalog also reprinted a selection of "letter to Dave Cook" from Cooper. It was titled "The Man Who Put Fishing on the Map" and reads as follows:

Dear Dave:

I have your good letter, asking me to write a little something telling the boys how to catch fish.

Now Dave, that is a startling and original idea, one which simply floored me, in fact. To tell the truth, the first time I did it, some twenty years ago, I really thought it was a swell idea. But there are two things which inevitably add up to a full creel-that is to go where there are fish, and to fish with persistence and good tackle. Moreover, I have something else on my chest that I would rather get off. That is the story of the guy who made it possible for other guys to catch fish, the same being yourself, Dave Cook, in person, not a substitute, photograph or stand-in, but the old original himself.

I remember once we had a big talk about your plans, how you hoped to sell just as good and better tackle than anyone else, at a price ANYONE could afford to pay. And you've done it Dave, you played square with the fellows who had trust in you, anf with that big body of people who were just waiting for some such guy as yourself to come along, someone who would put the outdoors within the reach of the ordinary fellow's pocketbook.

So that's the story I wanted to tell, Dave, and I've done it, and good luck to you--and your customers.



A neat letter that expresses some great admiration (remember, Cooper was a publicist of note).

There are two other examples that show the esteem that Cook held Cooper. The first is that he dedicated his annual fishing tournament to Cooper, who would have thought it a brilliant stroke of promotion.

The second is that he took a whole page in his catalog (which certainly could have been used to hawk other tackle) to eulogize his friend; more importantly, he dedicated about a this of that page to an advertisement for Courtney Ryler Cooper's widow, who hoped to dispose of her husband's tackle in one lump. The collection "consists entirely of tackle that he himself used and found good…Included in this collection are 15 fine fly rods, such as Hardy, Shakespeare, Abbey & Imbrie, Winchester, etc.; 17 high quality Casting rods, 32 reels of all types, several hundred bass plugs and lures of various types; also lines, flies, fly books, tackle boxes, spinners, and literally every item the fisherman would ever want or need.

Cooper fly fishing as pictured in 1940 Dave Cook cataalog.

Interested parties could write Mrs. Courtney Ryley Cooper. This means Cook profited in no way from this act of charity, a pretty nice thing to do. I assume that someone did indeed purchase the tackle estate as a whole.

The friendship between these two men was genuine, and Cook's grief very real at his pal's premature passing. The 1940 catalog is a nice memorial to Cooper, and a great friendship between two popular men.

-- Dr. Todd

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