Culling an old folder just now, I ran across a copy of Time magazine dated July 10, 1939. On page six, there’s a letter written by my father, Martin R. Miller, dateline Fairport Harbor, where he lived before marrying my mom and moving to Canton. He was employed at the Painesville Telegraph then as the Fairport Harbor correspondent, a title I always found amusing. His letter, apparently a response to an earlier Time letter, will provide a nice break from my recent blog posts, so I’ll just quote the letter here verbatim. I believe J.D. Salinger owes a debt to my dad.
The superlatives used by Reader Lawrence Griswold [Time, June 26] in describing a bonefish (i.e., “world’s greatest gamefish,” “most elusive speedster”) called to mind a tropical piscatory phenomenon known as the “banana fish.”
The usual elaborate fish-catching methods all fail with the banana fish.
This is the way it is done. A banana is submerged half its length, vertically, by hand, from either beach or boat in any tropical waters.
The bright yellow of the banana and the almost metaphysical taste or smell it imparts to the water in its vicinity lures the banana fish, which strikes with lightning rapidity. As the fish flashes at the submerged half of the banana, the fisherman instantly pulls the fruit from the water. Now comes the time when the sportsman must outsmart this denizen of the sea.
The momentum of the fish hurtles it out of the water through the hole left by the banana. Quick as a note coming due, the fisherman plunges the banana back into the hole through which the fish has come, cutting off the only possible opening through which it could return to its native habitat.
My friend told me the trapping of banana fish on the surface of the water in this fashion is one of the most highly regarded skills in the South Seas.
Martin R. Miller
Fairport Harbor, Ohio
Reading this, my son somberly commented it sounded like something my sisters and I would find funny. “Well,” I responded, “that makes sense, doesn’t it?”