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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ed Zern - An Open Letter

I am attending a writing workshop and our task this past week was to identify 10 influences on our writing style. Thus morning we were asked to assign codes to the 10: identifying those that had influenced the technical aspects (T) of our writing; those that inspire (I) us to sit down and write; and finally, those that effected us through their teaching or impact how we feel about our writing (F). From the influences identified, we were to now choose one and explain how (in a letter) that one specifically influenced us.

Trying to maintain my off-beat style while all the others wrote to their daughters (more than several), one to herself, and many to people who actually had an impact on their writing, I chose to phrase my letter in the form more of a complaint that a thank you.

Having accomplished the above tasks, I chose Ed Zern, the former “Exit Laughing” columnist for Field & Stream magazine. Mr. Zern held down the last page of Field & Stream for 35 years, beginning in 1958. Ed Zern’s mind kept me in giggles for a large chunk of my formative years and my adult life until such time that age and illness forced his retirement—a day that should forever be blackened on all calendars. Mr. Zern was 83 at the time of his passing in 1994. What follows is my attempt to answer the above challenge:

Dear Ed,

Well, how ‘bout it Ed? How’s Heaven” Of course I am assuming you made it to Heaven and participating—at least in the great fly fishin’ I am told that exists there. While there might be some doubt on you meeting the entrance requirements, I am sure anyone that spent as much time over their life fishing, and fishing as well as you did, at least acquired constructive credit enough to overcome any black marks you may have accumulated.

I just wanted you to know that I really miss your “Exit Laughing” commentary and to advise you that since your passing, not a sole at Field & Stream has reported on the by-weekly meetings of the Madison Avenue Rod, Gun, Labrador Retriever and Bloody Mary Benevolent Association. They must have continued their meeting, as a minimum to perpetuate the Bloody Mary custom. As removed as most of us are from the sidewalks of New York, we have no idea how some of our old friends are getting’ on—like Orville Dykenfoos.

I know you must be monitoring the Fly activity on the Beaver Kill but, again, no one else is keeping us advised. Are you tweeting this somewhere?

Of prime importance, there hasn’t been a contest of any nature run by the Association, at least to our knowledge. The accumulation of prize money by this time must be staggering. The opportunity to get at Big Money still escapes me. Given the current economy, Boy! what could I do with $1.98 right now.

That guy Heavey that holds down the back page now is pretty good but can’t, for the life of him, produce the seventeen tee-hees to a magazine page required to fill your waders.

I’m guessing from your vantage point you no longer have any editorial clout over the magazine goings-on. My complaints have been building for a while and maybe I shouldn’t be laying all this at your feet, but I wanted to get it off my chest.

I will say that I’m missing your whimsical endeavors so much that I am seriously considering dropping my subscription and picking up one to Outdoor Life.

Sincerely, Your fishing buddy forever,

John Howard