Carl Walton called Monday and the 90-year-old West Side man said he had netted more than 500 smelt in four outings. Since I think he is the oldest guy smelting in Chicago I pay attention when he calls.
This is Walton when he was a spry guy of 83. It was opening night of smelt netting in 2002 with a miserable mix of weather. Even so, he was the last guy coming off 31st Street pier.
I admire that kind of toughness.
Any way, Walton said of this spring, ``They ran like they did in olden times. They haven't ran like this in 15-20 years.''
But Walton is more than just smelt memories.
That night in 2002 cemented a bit of relationship. I always felt like there is something I need to learn from him.
We both enjoy the outdoors and gardening, but it is more than that.
It was gardening that had us standing and talking on that miserable night in 2002. And it resulted in my first visit to Walton's place in the summer.
He has this unbelievable garden and mini-orchard growing on the West Side. Every year or so, he calls with an invite to visit and pick up some tomatoes or other fruit and vegetables.
And he makes a wonderful homemade wine.
He thought he would see me opening night this spring, so he had a jar of the stuff waiting for me.
I need to pick it up.