Everyone has an ego. We hope after we move on to that great groundhog field in the sky people will remember us and say, “He was a pretty good fellow.”
I’m no different, and my ego jumped and then plummeted the day I sat in the vistor’s waiting area of Allegheny General Hospital.
We were visiting someone in the cardiac care unit and only one person was permitted to go into the room at a time. As I sat and waited, I couldn’t help but notice the three nurses at the desk were looking at me and whispering.
It was obvious that I was the center of their conversation. I knew they weren’t good looks that I was getting, so I checked my fly. Yep, it was zipped up.
Next, I wiped my nose. Nothing there.
Perhaps I should visit the men’s room and take a look in the mirror, I thought.
This was Pittsburgh, not Washington where there was a chance a reader might recognize me. Then again, my fame and charm might reach out to great distances.
Finally, two of the nurses headed my way, and I was going to solve the mystery. The first asked for my autograph.
Hey, I thought, my fame does reach the big city. Then came the blow.
She said, “Mr. Leyland, we just love how you have brought success to the Pirates.”
She didn’t want the autograph of old George. She wanted Jim Leyland.
I explained I wasn’t the Pirates’ skipper, but George Block of Eighty Four.
I thought she still might want my signature, but she apologized and walked away.
After that, I bought a pair of wire spectacles and have been hoping that someone will mistake me for Jack O’Conner.
• You never know what you’re going to catch sometimes. This was demonstrated last week when my grandson, James Ward, Nick Bickle and I went fishing in a farm pond.
All three of us were using spinner baits and James was on the other side of the pond when he hooked what we thought was a world-record bass. The darn thing didn’t want to come in and James struggled with his light rod and 6-pound line.
After 10 minutes, he found out why couldn’t budge the fish. It was a large channel cat weighing 15 pounds. I had fished this pond many times and had never known it contained channel cats.
Ten minutes later, James hooked another smaller one on the same spinner.
My late wife, Eileen, and I were fishing on Neshannock Creek about four miles south of Volant and were doing all right fishing for trout.
Our last spot was to be a nice hole about a mile from our car. The Neshannock is a well-known trout water and is a favorite of fly fishermen. My first cast was met with a strike and I reeled in a nice 17-inch fish. But it wasn’t a trout.
Instead, I was holding a walleye.
It was legal, so I placed it in my creel and cleaned the goop off my Rooster Tail, then cast out to the same spot. You guessed it; I got another hit from a walleye.
Since that day, I have fished that creek many times and never caught or heard of another walleye being caught in that stretch of the stream.
A few years ago, I was fishing Cross Creek near Meadowcroft and catching smallmouths when I landed a fairly large sheepshead. That is the only sheepshead I have ever caught in Washington County.
There was another time when I was walking along one of the local waterdams and saw a nice 20-inch rainbow trout swimming by.
But the ultimate was a fellow who caught a big piranha in the No. 2 Waterdam. You just never know.
George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.