Worn Out By Carp

After finishing my military active duty requirement, I went to work for, at the time, the largest computer company in the country and the spring of 1960 found me in Radium Springs, Georgia, just outside of Albany, to attend six weeks of computer training. Computers were new to almost everyone then.
Radium Springs featured a huge casino/hotel combination, built in 1920, but since demolished and was a beautiful and delightful place to hold the class, except for the bone chilling, constant temperature of the water, 68 degrees and, the incessant B-52 takeoffs from Turner Field, a SAC base. We were on the end of the twelve thousand foot, runway and the big bird’s wings would actually “flap” up and down when the behemoths cleared the ground.
One Saturday, while I was in town getting a haircut, I sat in the barber’s chair and watched one of Martin Luther King’s first marches down the main street of Albany. Law enforcement was brutal in the handling of the marchers. A very interesting note about this, unknown to me for years, a softball playing, friend of mine was one of MLK’s bodyguards and he too remembers this march!
What does all of this have to do with carp? The sparkling blue pool at Radium Springs, yes, the water in the springs does have traces of radium, was “covered up” with large, almost pet, carp. Being a fisherman of sorts, I went into town and bought me an inexpensive spinning reel, rod, hooks, weights and a stringer and one stop at the hotel’s kitchen set me up with some carefully constructed “dough balls” for bait.
The chef, a black lady, was eager to please, even when I told her to mix in some cotton with the dough. The cotton would help to keep the bait securely on the hook. She remarked, “I hasn’t heard of this, but if’n it works, save me two or three big ‘uns!”
My first cast produced a tap, tap and setting the hook, I held on for a long sizzling, run and soon, I pulled the, I guessed, five pound carp up on to the bank. Thinking this was a “big ‘un”, it went on the stringer.
My next cast didn’t yield a tap, tap, but the rod was almost yanked from my hands. This one meant business and almost stripped the line on its first run. Luckily, the fish turned and headed back my way and I regained some line. This fight lasted for ten minutes and the carp was too big to slide up on to the bank, so I handed my rod to an onlooker with instructions to keep the line tight and into the cold water I went and, unceremoniously, grabbed the big fish, I guessed twenty pounds, with both hands and arms and carried it up out of the water and ‘rasseled it on to the stringer. Whew!
The next one was even bigger and I barely won this fight. After stringing it, I was cold and wet and had had enough of this “carping” to last for one day. After letting the little one go I carried the big ‘uns to the chef and she was all smiles. She told me that the fish were for her family and that she would ‘bile ‘em to gets all of bones out and then make fish cakes out of the meat. Sounded good to me!
The next morning I was standing, almost at attention, in front of my Class Manager, who was almost smiling, when he told me, “The hotel manager said for me to tell you not to catch and keep any of the hotel’s carp! You can still fish, but throw them back.
His guests like to watch them.”