Friday, December 1, 2023

Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell

Bill Carnell -- Fisherman

This month I am changing the format of Sifoddling Along to tell a story with pictures. My father, Thomas Alton (Bill) Carnell was crippled by polio in 1914. Athletic before the illness, he did not let walking on crutches stop him from doing things he enjoyed, especially fishing. These photos show the fruits of his labor. I can assure you that all the fish were consumed by the families of the fishermen or shared with friends and neighbors.

This is a classic photo of Ozark fishermen during the great depression, from L-R -Charles Bone, Kenneth Noel, Ted Rogers, Bill Carnell, and Vadis Noel. They caught 75 Channel Catfish in the Kings River. c. 1936. Photo in front of Carnell's home in Pineville, MO.

L-R Charles Bone, Billy Max Carnell, Zella Mae Carnell, Vadis Noel. Photo in front of Carnell home on N. King in Pineville, MO. Al & Marilyn no longer own this house where Marilyn grew up. Stringer of catfish caught c. 1936. (Marilyn was born after 1936.)

Photo of Bill Carnell & his son, Billy Max with a stringer of fish. Photo taken in the front yard of home. Behind them is the "pasture" The tree line is next to Testerman Branch, a tributary of Big Sugar Creek in Pineville. For many years, Thelma, the real farmer in the family, raised two steers every year in the pasture. One sold to cover expenses & one to butcher for the family table. In 1964, they built a new house in the pasture and Bill & Thelma moved there. It was wheelchair accessible as Bill got older.

Carl Jr. Bradley (Sometimes called "Junie"), Bill Carnell, Billy Max Carnell & Zella Carnell In the front yard of Carnell home. Camera facing east, toward the pasture. c. 1940. Fish caught at Stauber Hole, below Noel on Elk River, MO.

Bill Carnell and Bill Coonrod. Crappie catch from Grand Lake, OK. c. 1958

Success! Bill Carnell with catfish he caught at his son Bill's lake near Buffalo, MO. Bill had a special yellow jacket covered with patches denoting various fishing logos. On one shoulder was a special one with his fishing nickname "Catfish." Bill was 77 years old at the time of this photo. 1981. Despite having to use a wheelchair in his later years, the always inventive Carnell's found a way for Bill to fish. Location - Bill M. Carnell's Lake near Buffalo, MO. Their home was on the Niangua River. Because it was some distance from the house, in rough Ozark terrain, Bill M.Carnell loaded Bill & and his wheelchair into the trailer and towed him to the best fishing spot. 1981.

Here in the Ozarks, septic tank maintenance trucks are called "honey wagons." Due to the fact that bait or somesuch was occasionally overlooked in the back, Bill's fishing vehicles often had a distinctive aroma. From the first one he acquired after WWII, (an army surplus panel truck that would only go 40 miles per hour because it had a governor on the engine) they were always named the "Honey Wagon." This one had a lift for his wheelchair so he could continue fishing.

Last known photo of Bill fishing. He had zinc oxide slathered on his lip to prevent a fever blister & his favorite Plantation Hat. Photo taken at Grand Lake, OK. Dated 8-18-1982. Bill lived to be 89 years old. His last years were a little sad because he could no longer go fishing.

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