“Extra, extra, read all about it.” Stock street newspaper vendor phrase.
By Gerry Roe edited by Betsy Cross Thorpe
One day in the fall of 1962 my father Henry D. Roe killed a bear.
At that time, we lived on Hardscrabble Road, a long country road located a few miles west of the logging town of Drain Oregon.
My father was heading into town when he passed several houses located near a sharp bend in the road. He looked off to the left and saw a bear high up in a tree. He quickly turned the car around and raced back to our house. He grabbed his hunting rifle, told my mother what he was about to do, ignored her pleas not to go back and ran out the door. He revved up the engine of his 1950’s Chevy and sped back to the spot where he first spied the bear.
With one single shot he brought that bear tumbling down from his perch in the tree.
My father learned to fish and hunt long before he moved to Oregon from Mississippi. He often talked about catching catfish in the Mississippi, Sunflower and Yazoo rivers. He must have told me some tall tales because when I was a child, I imagined those catfish he told me about to be big as a whale. He also liked to recall hunting in Mississippi. He told me about hunting with dogs, they hunted Grey Squirrel, possum and raccoons.
He fished for trout in Oregon, but I don’t think he enjoyed catching them as much as he enjoyed catching the big catfish back in Mississippi. Trout were much smaller than catfish, they were generally so small that my mother could fit one or two whole fish in her black cast iron skillet.
Occasionally my father would go deer hunting with my brothers and their sons. He went on his final hunting trip in October of 1978 with my oldest brother in John Day, a small town in Eastern Oregon some 279 miles from his home in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
They were up in the wooded mountains hunting when he developed chest pains and shortness of breath. My brother rushed him to the hospital in John Day; where he was diagnosed with a Myocardial Infarction. He later recovered to the point that his doctors believed it was safe for him to go home.
My mother and two of my brothers were with him at the hospital. The plan was that I would drive over to get him. But sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. On the morning of October 9, I received a call that he had passed away.
I wish I could have been there to see him one last time, but I am glad that my mother and brothers were with him, that he didn’t die alone. I am also glad that he got to enjoy the company of his oldest son, out in the great outdoors, one last time before he passed.