Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
My cousin Cindy recently shared some family albums with me. I am completely fascinated by the photos - those moments in time, captured and treasured, and placed in an album to be remembered. The occasional news article gives me a glimpse into the timing of various life events... I hadn't seen or heard about the saga of the monster carp and was so glad to come upon this news article clipped and preserved in the family album. I transcribed the article as it appeared in 1926 and you will find it copied below. As luck would have it, I also found a series of pictures of my grandfather, "Carnation Joe Green" hamming it up with the monster carp and have included those photos as a verification of the events that unfolded on that Sunday afternoon in July of 1926. This blog is a photo album of sorts and a way to remember family events - some from nearly a century ago while others are more recent. This particular story can be verified and as my cousin J and I joke - I could share this story at the Museum. (not like the previous story involving the peonies - full of many enhancements) I hope you enjoy this true story... it is so much fun to share.
LOCAL IZAAK WALTONS ARE SWAYED BY GREAT AND PERTINENT QUESTION
Did Joe Green Catch That Monster Carp Fairly, or Sprinkle Salt on Its Tail?
The question is, did Joe Green of Green’s Greenhouses, catch that monster fish of his fairly and squarely or did he resort to underhanded and illegal methods whereby to wheedle that monster carp into his net and beat his opposing team in the Izaak Walton League fishing contest?
Joe, who is widely famed for truth and veracity, declares he violated none of the Queensberry rules in his wrestling match with that big fish – there was no hitting in the clinches, or anything like that, he says; but when it comes to the subject of fishing and the catching of big fish, especially, even Izaak Walton’s seem inclined to question one another’s honest statements.
And, therefore, - The Herald has Joe’s own word for it – the Izaak Walton Leaguers have ordered a mock trial for Joe Green, captain of the successful squad of anglers – a formal and dignified hearing, set for two weeks from last Monday night – at which Joe will be put to the test of explaining just exactly how he landed that whale of a carp, which he says he pulled out of Walton lake, at about three o’clock last Sunday afternoon, and thus won the contest for his team.
(Continued on Page 5)
THURSDAY, JULY 29, 1926
LOCAL IZAAK WALTONS SWAYED BY QUESTION
(Continued from Page 1)
You see, the Izaak Walton league had put on a fishing contest for last week. The League was divided up into two picked squads of some thirty anglers each. Wood Hatcher captained the one squad, while Joe Green captained the other. Throughout the week those anglers were busy every spare moment, plying hook and line. It is whispered (slanderously, no doubt) that even some moments were used that weren’t to spare. But fishing in the Fremont lakes was exceedingly poor last week.
Came News of the Catch
And so, as a consequence of the refusal of the members of the finny tribe that inhabit local waters, to enter into the spirit of the Walton contest, and let themselves be caught by the faithful and perfervid fishers, the end of the competition was drawing toward a drab and very unexciting close, when, almost at the eleventh hour, came the startling news of Joe Green’s monster catch.
Who could believe it, that a common Fremont Fremont florist could go out to Walton lake, and, unaided and alone, land a mammoth twenty-two pound carp, and thus win over his competing team by a number of pounds of fish, as 23 is to 4 ½ pounds? Since that exciting moment in Joe Green’s career, he has momentarily stopped “saying it with flowers,” and is now “saying it with fish.”
That is to say, Joe vows he caught his monster carp legally, and with no misrepresentation of the facts to Mr. Carp – he says, he didn’t even promise the fish that its life might be spared to good old age within the Green’s private home fish pond.
These are the facts, as Joe related them to a Herald reporter: He was on his way to Morse lake Sunday afternoon, feeling rather dubious as to his team’s chances of winning the big chicken dinner as the prize of the Walton League’s angling contest. As he neared the shores of the lake, a woman fisher there informed him that a certain board was bobbing about the lake. Now Joe had fastened his book to a short piece of two -by-four, and, sure enough, when he looked out across the lake, he saw this piece of wood disappearing and re-appearing in the unmistakable symptoms of a fish on the other end.
Joes Goes After Carp
Thereupon, Joe took a boat and started after that piece of scantling. Seizing it, he tried in vain to land the fish. Thrice during the week he had had the misfortune, he says, to get big fish above the water, only to have them release themselves and splash away to freedom, and he was determined that like fate should not be his again. Accordingly, he was exceedingly careful.
Finally, he managed to get his fish into shallow water, and regardless of the wetting, he stepped overboard and began an overhand reeling in of his line. But when he eventually got a glimpse of that twenty-two pound carp, and had a chance to “heft” it, he saw at once he had something extraordinary on his hands. Thereupon he started right after Mr. Carp, disregarding the depth of water into which the fish was taking him, and everything. He laid hold of it, finally, got his fingers locked through its mouth and a gill, and by sheer strength and long angling experience, laid Mr. Fish, flopping, on dry land.
Of course, such a catch as that put it all off with the other team in the contest, which, up to this moment, had been well ahead with a total of 4 ¼ pounds of fish taken during the week, to Captain Joe’s team’s measly one-pound fish.
Many Fine Fish Saved
The object of the contest, of course, was to rid Walton lake, and other Fremont lakes of the undesirable species of fish which habitually prey upon other so-called “fine-fish.” Mr. Green’s capture of that whale of a carp has no doubt meant the saving of many, many smaller bass, sun-fish and perch for an indefinite time to come.
The Fremont Izaak Walton League held its regular monthly meeting at the club house Monday evening. State President Frank Brady, of Atkinson, together with ten or a dozen other dignitaries of the organization, was present. It was at this meeting that it was proposed that the case of Captain Joe Green and his catching of his prize carp, should be given an official hearing, just to satisfy the defeated squad of anglers that they were vanquished fairly, and that Joe really didn’t sprinkle salt on the carp’s tail.
Mr. Green had the monster carp’s picture taken, and after that it was frozen into a cake of ice at the Morse Ice Company Plant, for later display in Green’s floral shop windows on Main Street.
Why would there be a picture of the Monke house in a 1920’s picture album belonging to someone in the “Green” family? I’m not sure who the album belonged to… it could have belonged to my Great Aunt Rose, Great Aunt Kay or maybe my Great Grandmother Katherine Green. I simply don’t know.
It was a strange thing to turn the page and see a house that so resembled the home that my parents would purchase in 1969… right there – big as you please. Upon closer inspection… it was indeed a picture of the home that my parents would purchase in 1969 in Fontanelle, Nebraska…
The photo of the Monke house revealed that the home was in pristine condition. The lightning rods were located perfectly on the roof. The chicken coop in the background was immaculate… There, on the second floor… were the windows that would become my bedroom in later years. The footbridge across the ditch hadn’t changed.
From other pictures in the album, the date the photo was taken was sometime between the mid 1920’s and the mid 1930’s. My Aunt Peggy had been born in 1927 and she appeared to be a toddler in surrounding photos – as were pictures of Charles the third. Why would there be a picture of the Monke house included in the photo album?
I sent the photos to my brother Stacy. He was as perplexed as I. I called attention to the farmland picture directly beneath the picture of the Monke house. I told him that I had seen those pictures before and had assumed that those were photos of the peony farm in Kansas. What could the peony farm in Kansas have to do with the Monke house in Fontanelle?
My parents had delayed moving to the country until after I graduated from High School. Stacy was going into second grade when they purchased the acreage in Fontanelle. He grew up on the “farm” and has many more memories associated with the house and grounds.
As we talked about the picture in the album, he recalled the times that Mom had been approached to sell the prized peonies she had growing in the garden. Stacy wasn’t sure who had made the offers but he remembered that people had wanted to buy the plants. I didn’t recall any such requests but I don’t doubt his recollection. In the fall of 1969, I had started college and was living at home and at my grandparents, so my interactions with visitors to the farm were limited.
The fact that the picture of the Monke house is glued quite permanently to the album page with the peony farm photo, doesn’t seem like it could be a coincidence.
Everything from here on out is speculation… a theory. Just one of many possible explanations of why there would be a picture of the Monke house on the same album page as Charles the third and the peony farm.
My Great Grandparents supplied a variety of plant materials to prominent homeowners and business owners throughout the region. Perhaps the Monke’s had requested that the greenhouse acquire a special variety of peonies to be planted in their gardens.
The picture of Charles the third, as a toddler, appears to be taken as the greenhouse in Colorado is being built. The timing may be significant as in relationship to a specific year. A year that the album owner would be aware.
Perhaps the same peony species was planted at the farm in Kansas and at the Monke property in Fontanelle, at the exact time of the building of the greenhouse in Colorado which would have been the exact age of Charles the third depicted in the photo.
What if this peony variety was expected to turn the peony universe on its head. What if this peony was to be so superbly vibrant in color and scent as to make any grower the envy of the region? This species of peony, the likes of which had never before been grown in this part of the world… a peony that had been improperly imported through Colorado and planted in Kansas and Fontanelle could ultimately reap great reward or result in dismal failure.
Documentation of the plantings were simply photos of the Monke home/property and the corresponding farmland in Kansas… The photos were a code – when would that variety bloom? The only connection between the Nebraska and Kansas properties were the peonies… If you knew the current ages of the children, you could back track and determine the growing success of the peony species.
The fact that my grandfather would nearly die in a car accident upon returning from the peony farm in Kansas, only adds more mystery to the Decoration Day Darlings and the mystery surrounding the photos in the family album…
And how amazing that my parents would end up purchasing the Monke home in 1969 and how odd that my little brother would remember such a peculiar peony purchasing request… someone mysteriously showing up and wanting to purchase the peonies for hundreds of dollars… isn’t that interesting and mysterious… the case of the perplexing picture and peonies…