My Favorite Tournament
The B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship
By Don Barone
"I grew up on a working man's wage…"
Dateline: The Time Clock Line
We worked at Sears, Roebuck & Company.
He was a "Big Ticket" guy. Sold appliances. Refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, stoves.
I was strictly little ticket, if in fact there was a ticket at all.
I worked part time in the record department.
Across the aisle from Dad.
Dad worked there for decades.
I worked there for a summer.
On Saturdays we both worked together, nine-to-nine, open to close, we drove in together, ate in the cafeteria together, drove home together.
Punched in together.
Punched out together.
We shared one slot on the time card wall. We were both named Don Barone so a Sears boss somewhere always wrote in red pen on the top of the card, "jr."
That was me.
On my time card I had one nine-to-nine punch in, punch out.
Dad had six.
I can still smell dad's cologne. I can still see the shine spots on his suit, I can still hear the clang of the time clock bell.
And what he would always say at 8:58am every Saturday right after the clang, "Donny, that's the sound of money."
I would say, "yep," even though I knew it wasn't.
It was the sound of just making it.
It was the sound of another twelve-hour day.
It was the sound barrier between our neighborhood, and the neighborhoods with the big homes and the big cars, the neighborhoods we could only drive through.
I have heard the sound of money.
The screaming when the bills are due.
The silence when no sales were made.
I have heard the sound of money.
When I stood outside my father's bedroom door.
And listened to him cry.
"…blood, sweat and tears on every dollar he made…"
I cover the B.A.S.S Federation Nation Championship Tournament, for my Dad.
For a guy who never fished a day in his life.
For a guy who wouldn't even eat the famous Buffalo, NY Friday Night Fish Frys.
I cover this for him, because I know he would have loved it.
I cover this for him, because I know he would have understood it completely.
I cover this because for one, it may silence the time clock clang.
Dudes from Mexico, Ontario, Canada, Zimbabwe, Italy, South Africa, Japan.
For one of you, when you punch in this time, you will be punching your ticket to the Bassmaster Classic.
This is fantasy camp, where the fantasy could actually come true.
"…for the little he earned there was so much he gave…"
My father was a ball player, who never got to play.
He dreamed of "The Bigs."
Not the "Big Ticket."
Across the aisle, me in the record department, Dad in Appliances, I would put out the new releases and watch him wind up and throw a pitch in the Freezer row, then stand there waiting for the call, or a customer.
He hit home runs amidst the stoves.
He bunted back by the dishwashers.
In between sales, he would take a baseball out from under the cash drawer stand, and just rub it in his hands.
My father was a ball player, who never got to punch in on the Big League clock.
You fifty-four anglers.
Your clock awaits on the Ouachita River.
Go there and punch it.
Go there and smash it.
Smash it for the men back home pouring concrete.
Smash it for the dude in the drive-thru speaker.
Smash it for the car salesman alone on the car lot.
When you take to the water, take with you the working stiffs back home.
I am the son of a working stiff.
I am the son of a man who punched a time clock all his life.
I have punched the clock.
I have heard the clang.
And when you fifty-four leave the dock.
It is not your boats I will see.
It is not your faces I will see.
When you take off all I will see is a man throwing the high inside heat back in the last refrigerator aisle…
…and his smiling face waiting for the call.
That never came.
"…and I hope I am worthy of a working man's wage."
Working Man's Wage