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FROM THE VALLEY: The 'shore' way to work and play


I arrived at the St. Lawrence River about 10 days ago. My wife was there ahead of me and had done a lot of the preliminary work to open our modest camp near Ogdensburg, N.Y., our hometown.

Our dog Maggie traveled with me. She was tucked away somewhere in the truck along with every bell and whistle ginkus known to mankind. I'm a Home Depot on wheels when it comes to hauling various tools around just in case, scratch that … WHEN ... something arises that you'd never think needed fixing.

Say hello to the Labor Camp, the cottage from hell. Just kidding. Let me pull that back a click and call it …. purgatory. There's always hope for better days.

I hauled the boat and trailer with me, not only to go fishing, but so that I could also cart more equipment for the general purposes of addressing the anticipated and unanticipated problems set forth in the opening blather.

“Hand me that half-inch, quarter-turn, open-ended, snot-socket, will ya!? I'm trying to tighten the articulated, septic-steam-release valve on the raccoon-infested, gas-powered magnet-dryer that I thought we threw out eight years ago.” Check. “Pliers, please. Okay, that's it, close her up. I've done what I could, it's in God's hands now.”

But it's still always a joy to be on the river. My wife works hard to turn our cupcake-cottage into a dazzling wedding cake – aka: beautiful home – like the ones that have popped up around us over the years. The fact of the matter is (as they say) you can't put a shine on a sneaker. It's that simple. And quite frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn. “Anybody seen my knee-high black socks and flip-flops?”

My wife had a list of things which “had to be done” once I got there. Fortunately, I got an emergency text-message which excused me from having to rip that “nasty seaweed out of the river all the way to the Canadian border.” My friend, Dave Shea, one of the finest and celebrated sports' journalists to ever come out of the north country, contacted me to go golfing. Luckily, I brought just the right tools for that occasion. Priorities.

Dave, aka: Doc, is as well known in the area as anyone you can imagine. I was delighted when he asked me to play with him as his guest. (“Guest” meaning he paid for the golf and cart. I strongly urged that he not do that, but only after he was out of ear-shot … and had already done so. That's how I roll.) Fore!

We played in a five-some with Dave's affable brother Pete. Jimmy “Disc-popping … ouch” Rogers and gentleman extraordinaire, Don Ramie. Don has got a few years on me so I asked him how long he'd been playing. He showed his age by answering in Roman numerals. “LXXV” to be precise. Great guy. Very good golfer. Actually, all were great guys — a joy to cheat with. Yeah, that's the ticket. (Did I say that out loud?)

I also got to see old friends like Chuck Ladoucer and Skip Wright while I was there (at the course). That was icing on the cake. Back in the day, Chuck could throw a curve ball that would defy the law of physics. It would make a boomerang blush. And Skip was literally the centerpiece of our undefeated JV basketball (and successful varsity) team way back in …. MMCMLXII and 'LXIII. Skip was an all-around great player who was probably the best passer and unselfish teammate to ever suit up for a game!

If you could bend it like Chuckie and shoot it like Skipper … you were among the elite. (They are now both single-digit handicap golfers. I'm not surprised.)

Previewing next week, I will detail my exploits on the river and the fish that got away. Disclosure: I couldn't tell my wife I was going fishing right after golf, so I told her I was starting on the Canadian side to clean out the “nasty seaweed” … and was working my way back toward the cottage. Mum's the word.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

And that's the way it looks from … the St. Lawrence River Valley.

Contact Tom at .

The author Tom Valley enjoying time on St. Lawrence

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This site is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Kelly, longtime editor of The Journal and Advance News in Ogdensburg and the greatest newsman in the history of Northern New York.