|We Ought To
by Capt. Jim Brincefield
Perhaps, like a good fishing story, our experiences grow grander to us over time. Thats how I think of years of my youth with my grandfather, Judge Daniel Weymouth in Heathsville, Northumberland County, Virginia, a rural county at the mouth of the Potomac River.
Life in Heathsville was not unlike the life I enjoy in Deale, Maryland, today. It revolved around basic values and simple pleasures: Going to watch the night softball games at the old Northumberland High School down the street. Walking through the woods to visit my cousins, the Jetts, next door. Riding my bike to visit with my cousins, the Covingtons, down Rose Landing Road. Riding my go-cart with Paige Swift, who lived next to the courthouse. Going to the jail to see Sheriff Wellington Shirley and the empty jail cells. Visiting the Rice Inn, where my ancestors built and operated the local hotel. Going to my Uncle Palmer Puseys Hardware store next to the courthouse and playing in the wooden barrels of nails. Playing tag with April Covington and the Dawson clan at the Soldiers Monument in front of the courthouse.
Without question, my favorite was when Grandfather would close down the courthouse early on Fridays and we would go fishing together.
Why should I be telling this now? It can all be explained with one word: ought. A simple ought thrown in a sentence as in I ought to go down to Bill Baldersons drug store and get a soda could be used by just about anyone. Of course, everyone had, at one time or another fired a 30-ought six. This was the most frequent, and accepted, use of ought. Quite inappropriate was the use of ought by my cousins, the brothers Covington, Watt and Lee. They would exclaim Ought! Ought! as if it were a substitute for farting, belching, or Yahoo!
Ought properly used in a historically and grammatically correct sentence in Heathsville was the very definition of an old-timer.
I remember back how we farmed back in ought eight, Answer Swann used to say as we purchased his chickens freshly laid brown country eggs. This was the appropriate use of ought.
My Grandmother, Charlotte Eugenia Rice Pusey Weymouth, also used ought appropriately. She understood the essence of ought and used it sparingly and strategically. (With a name like that, Grandmother commanded respect for that, alone). Of course, the correct use of ought is in place of a zero when speaking of the years of 1900 to 1909 or 2000 to 2009.
Here in our part of Chesapeake Bay, we experienced in 1999 a year that will be remembered fondly forever in our chapter of fishing history as a once-in-a-lifetime season and a great turning point in the conservation of our resources. As we grow older and teach our children and grandchildren about our Bay, we will tell them the grand stories of the abundant return of the giant rockfish, chopper bluefish, monster croaker and tide runner gray trout to our beautiful waters. This is, in a great part, a result of intelligent and planned conservation by all.
Recreational, charter and commercial fishermen alike have conserved our Bays resources so we can now proudly pass this legacy on to generations to follow. Yet our work is far from done.
Certainly, our Bay can be cleaner, our skies brighter and our air more pure. We are heading in the right direction. People are getting involved. Our community is addressing development, pollution and population concerns that used to be ignored.
I dream of uttering the word ought appropriately sometime in the mid-21st century as I talk to my grandchildren. I remember back in ought two when we caught only a fraction of the fish you catch today, Ill tell them.
But man could we tell a story!
Capt. Jim Brincefield is both a writer and charter fishing captain.