It was great to man the giftshop/bookstore at the hatchery last Friday. The fishing derby for senior citizens and the disabled was being held. What a great event because the participants have such a good time.

It was great to man the giftshop/bookstore at the hatchery last Friday. The fishing derby for senior citizens and the disabled was being held. What a great event because the participants have such a good time.
I have been fighting health issues for a year so I have been unable to do my share at the hatchery. However, it was nice to be back even if only for one day.
So many familiar faces showed up. Several got word that I was in the Visitor Center and made an effort to stop by.
One of the people who came to say hello, was a man from Webb City. He has been at the derbies many, many times. He also has health problems but he keeps on going. He has had it very rough with cancer and is still taking chemo. His head and neck are scarred and he now relies on a cane to get around, but he was there to fish.
This man started making banjos a few years ago and they became very popular with his friends and with the public. Even he was very surprised at his own success. On derby day, he told me that he was nearly finished with his 175th banjo.
That is wonderful considering he just made the first one for fun and his battle with health problems. What a remarkable man!
For the first time in many years, the derby was held in Hearrel Branch instead of one of the ponds. People seemed to enjoy this as the running water was so great and shade trees reflected the hot sun. Because the volunteers usually gut the fish in the empty branch, this year the volunteers only washed the fish and put them in a bag of ice. I did not hear even one complaint!
We have several fishermen and women from out-of-state. One couple came into the bookstore after they had caught their fish. If I am not too busy with customers, I try to visit with everyone. This particular couple are natives of Oklahoma, but he worked for many years in the foreign service with the Department of State. He apparently served several years overseas.
Like everyone else, this couple were interesting and had an interesting story to tell.
That's why I enjoy working in the bookstore when I can. You just never know who will walk in the door.
It sure looks like we are going to have a long, hot summer. I fear the garden will have to be watered. Somehow, it doesn't seem like tap water does as good a job as rain, but often there is no alternative.
I am anxious for the tomatoes to produce. Last year we had 13 tomato plants and got 3 tomatoes, thanks to the squirrels. Maybe we will have better luck this year.

Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.