This is Red.
Red has been sturgeon spearing since he was a boy in the 1950s. He hasn’t missed a single year on the ice of Lake Winnebago since then. The odds of spearing this prehistoric fish are slim, but that doesn’t deter him.
The truth is, Red isn’t too concerned about spearing a sturgeon.
For him, it’s more about connecting with life-long friends and family. After all, it’s not often that you’ll get a Salchert’s liver sausage sandwich delivered to your shanty door or that you’ll get to pass the blackberry brandy around for one more Schluck. For Red, this is a time to cherish and celebrate, whether or not a sturgeon is speared.
Red loves to socialize.
The conversations and camaraderie are his favorite part of sturgeon spearing. Of course, all the stories and laughter would make anyone thirsty and hungry. As a result, Red enjoys having a cool one to compliment his raw beef and onions.
But, once Red sits on his 5-gallon bucket and begins to stare into the ice hole, he contemplates seriously.
Alone in the small, dark shanty, gratitude rises to the surface of Red’s thoughts. He thinks about all the things he treasures: five grandchildren, two daughters and a beautiful wife. Red is grateful for his life.
Red is my father and I love him.
The fact that he thinks of our family and me in the darkness of the shanty melts my heart. It’s the simple things that matter.
What do you think about in your shanty?
A portrait of Red was on exhibition at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts.
The Fish of Legends exhibition ran until February 15, 2020.
Sturgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago is an event everyone should experience at least once. I finally went with my father, after all these years of him asking me. And, I'm so glad I did.
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