Chester Reservoir

I usually write my weekly column Saturday mornings. When I lay my head on my pillow Friday night, I usually know what I’ll write about the next morning. Not so this week. Saturday morning, May 1, was a sunny but chilly morning. I still hadn’t thought of anything to write about. I apologize for my shortcoming.

The 2019 Chester Rod & Gun Club Fishing Derby. That year, there were 60 kids registered. Photo provided
The 2019 Chester Rod & Gun Club Fishing Derby. That year, there were 60 kids registered. Photo provided

I called Lee Decatur at 9:45 a.m. to see what he was up to. We decided to go up to Chester Reservoir to try our hand fishing. Boy was it cold! We sat with our backs to the wind. The only thing biting was the wind. I saw Clayton Jennison drive by. Lee asked who Clayton was. I asked Lee if he knew Dee Robinson.

“Yes.” Clayton and Dee are brother and sister.

Soon a white Jeep showed up, and I recognized Arne Jonynas. He got out of his Jeep with his dog, Bella, who I nicknamed “Bela Lugosi.” She’s a fine 13-year-old black lab. Arne had a Green Up bag and went to work picking up trash. Lee and I watched as Arne walked around picking up the winter’s trash. Eventually, Arne made his way to the dam where Lee and I were fishing.

I haven’t always agreed with Arne, but I’ve always liked him. I introduced Lee and Arne. Soon we were having a friendly visit. Arne has a camp on the upper road so he knows the area. We talked about Bill and Marjorie Orcutt and their property. I told Arne just beyond the Water Farm, Dana Kendall and I planted 10,000 Christmas trees in 1968.

  Christmas trees

Dana’s mother, Retha, worked in the Town Clerk’s office at the time. She got us the job. The trees were little seedlings maybe six inches tall. I demonstrated to Lee and Arne how we planted them.

One of us was slightly bent over with a grub hoe. You would plunge the hoe into the sod and pull back. This created a hole about four inches deep. The other walked along with a sack of seedlings and would place a seedling in each hole, and then press the sod back with his foot. It went pretty fast.

Arne says today these trees are huge and that the snowmobile trail goes right through them. My memory is a little foggy now, but I think we were paid ten cents for each seedling. Dana and I spilt the proceeds.

I told Arne up that on the upper road my father planted 40,000 trees in the 1930s. Again my memory fades, but I seem to remember my father telling me there had been a forest fire up there in the late 1920s or early 1930s. I was young when my father showed me the trees he planted. I’m sure seeing the trees he planted influenced me to do the same.

Fishing derby

For as many years as I can remember, the Chester Rod & Gun Club has sponsored a kids’ fishing derby. When I was young, they were held in the Lovers Lane Brook behind Mrs. Kelly’s Buttonwood Farm. Today, they are held at Chester Reservoir.

The reservoir used to be the town water supply. In those days public use was restricted and only fly-fishing was allowed. I remember fly-fishing there with my father. Today, our water comes from the well near the solar farm on Route 103, so the reservoir is now open for public use.

It’s a wonderful asset for townspeople. Some people launch a canoe, others a kayak. I noticed a few years ago that the emergency spillway was beginning to deteriorate some. On this May 1, I noticed sand bags at the edge of that spillway. I walked over to investigate. There was fresh concrete setting up. Arne told us the town had just worked on the spillway earlier that week.

This year the fishing derby is May 22, from 9 to 11 a.m. George Wilson will register your kids to win prizes. Prizes are for the first fish, the largest, and the most. They give away some really nice prizes including rods, reels, and tackle.

Danny Clemons and I always go to watch the kids fish. Some kids really get into it. It takes us back to the day when we were young doing the same. You might consider joining us. There’s extra parking in the gravel pit.

This week’s old saying is from my father: “There’s only one thing you can give and still keep and that’s your word.”

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