By John R. Greenwood
My father's been gone awhile now and there aren't too many days that go by that I don't think of him in some way. It may be simply walking past a photo of him that causes an old story or memory to erupt in my head. He loved these license plates and the nickname that carried him through his sixties, seventies, and eighties. The Old Fox implied a well seasoned, and cunning story maker--yes, a story maker. He was one of those characters that instigated pranks and party tales, then sprinkled them with just enough color to make you want to stick around for the next one. There was the time he planted a tall tree in the sight line of a friends kitchen window. In the morning as the wife stood there filling the coffee pot she couldn't understand why the view she enjoyed every morning was suddenly obstructed? How could an eight foot pine tree appear overnight?
He told me a story about the time he was at a local watering hole and things got a little competitive at the bar. The Old Fox bet some boisterous braggart that he could out pull Mr. Big Mouths V-8 pickup with his little four cylinder International Scout. That was all it took to proclaim, "Your On!" The next thing you know they're in the parking lot and my father is crawling underneath the back of the vehicles hooking up a set of his chains. So here they sit, tailgate to tailgate, chain taught, ready, set, go! The Old Fox never spun a tire. The pickup on the other hand was spitin' a rooster tail of dirt twenty feet in the air. When the dust settled, there sat Mr. Nowquiet at the other end of the parking lot where The Old Fox had deposited him. Mr. Nowquiet then headed inside to buy the bar a round as losing the bet required him to do. Years later my father explained how he never lost a bet with that old Scout. When he would hook the chain up, he would go over the bumper of the Scout and under the bumper of the other vehicle. Now, when they started pulling, the pressure of the chain would force his Scout down giving it more traction, and the other vehicle would be lifted up causing it to lose traction and just spin. It was such a simple thing and no one ever realized the difference-except The Old Fox.
These were just two small examples of the endless supply of stories that would overflow camping trips, fishing trips, and visits to the house. The main comparison between dad and the slyness of a fox was his quiet and extensive knowledge of the outdoors. His homemade trout spoons were prized acquisitions. His collection of topographical maps from every corner of the Adirondack's were all marked with notes identifying fishing hot spots and have-nots. He took great pride in his boat and gun racks he would build with left over scraps of aluminum from his job as a glazier. He loved sharing the hunting and fishing tips he had assembled over a life time of experiences. That was The Old Fox at his best, talking about and enjoying what he loved the most; being outdoors. I'm sure that's where he is right now.