Low Tide Mollusk…#17 (the 50’s)


“I think he’s still asleep”  was Gary Michael Willson heard as he lay warm and  covered on the divan, his bed for the night.   The whispered voice of Grandpa and Grandma Weisner resonated in he’s head.  He was awake and answered to that effect feeling the adrenalin starting to pump through his veins with just the thought of what was going to transpire.   Grandpa Marvin having promised to take the young boy abalone fishing with him in the early hours of the morning.   Mike bounded out of his makeshift bed and hurriedly dressed,  not wanting to hear a reason why he couldn’t journey on this adventure.  Grandma had a bowl of cereal ready for a hasty breakfast and a sack filled with a complete change of clothes that would be needed.  A passing thought resounded, ‘grandmas’ think of everything’.  The excitement beginning to raise, the young boy eager to get started.


It was just Mike and Grandpa seated in the old Dodge coupe as they left rural Sebastopol turning onto highway #116.   It was still dark, the sun yet to anoint the eastern horizon with its glow.   The predawn air damp with patches of fog dotting the highway which is normal for Sonoma County as two prospective maritime questors ferreted their way to the pacific coastal coves.  Continuing on  the road which ran abreast to the Russian River,  the elderly experienced piscadores and  a young inexperienced apprentice were steadfast on their appointed way.




The dawn was beginning to emerge as they dismounted their transportation making their way down towards the water.    No ocean waves thundering on these rocks,  for the sea was in reflux, the tide having ebbed and a subtle stillness prevailed.   The youth could see others on the beach,  a Bonfire was present on shore a good distance from the water, Mike hearing laughter and noticing the occupants with thermos’  in hand,  suspecting that  coffee wasn’t the only beverage on the beach.   Grandpa Marvin  explaining that the abalone were mollusk,  fastening themselves to the rocks just below the surface and at low tide you could reach down in the water and grasp them, but a pry bar was needed to loosen their powerful muscular suction from the rocks.   The youth discovering there was a limit to the number you could harvest  and also a prescribed minimum diameter size.



Mike was anxious to hone his skill at this new-found means of sea urchin fishing.  The anxiousness were short-lived,  the tidal waters extremely cold and the experience of wading into the ocean with all your clothes on wasn’t a pleasant one.    An immediate discovery that wet clothes do have weight and tennis shoes don’t really grip the seaweed when questing towards the first outcrop of the rocks.   Struggling to give a knowledgeable appearance,  finally accepting help from a stranger, who directed him to an outcropping and directing him to a certain rock and behold there was an abalone attached.   Prying the muscular mollusk  loose from its anchored station, discovering it looked to exceed the seven-inch diameter minimum.   First thoughts for the boy were of jubilation,  but soon was replaced by an inborn sense of naivety.  The overcast dawn sky, the cold, and being wet contributed to a decision to conclude his abalone fishing experience, the bond fire on the beach looked very inviting.  Mike gathered his change of clothes and was pointed in the direction of an embankment behind some large rocks where he proceed to change.  Wondering about his wet shoes, but surprisingly finding an old pair of flip flops in the clothing sack, suspiciously  looking like they didn’t belong to his grandmother.


Accepting the bonfires invitation, the abalone expedition finally coming to a conclusion, a gunny sack of abalone safely stored away in the Dodge Coupe’s trunk.  After a brief stay, The young man and his grandfather,  like the ebbing waters of the tide, decided to recede from the coastline shore of the pacific.  A return to Sevastopol, the time the two had together, and the event indelibly ingrained as an everlasting memory for a young Mike.


One Response to “Low Tide Mollusk…#17 (the 50’s)”

  1. doncrower Says:

    Good job Gary . I was lucky to know your Grandfather Marvin through your sister Nancy

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