The funniest things make us remember old times

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

To the Editor:

I was dusting off my extensive spin-cast fishing reel collection today and found myself wondering why did I own so many of these now forgotten antique reels?

I slipped into a daydream. Oh, yes, Johnny Panton. That’s why. Johnny Panton had a store called Panton & Lackland (not sure if that’s spelled right) in the little building beside where Dan Forbes’ office is now.

It was my favorite store in the whole world.

When you walked in it smelled of heavily oiled leather from baseball gloves and footballs, wood floors and fishing reel oil.

Sure, there was plenty of the sports equipment and he had the most Tonka Toys any child could dream of.

Then there were the matchboxes that I spent most all my allowance on in the early days (when I was 10). I would stand there looking at those miniature cars and trucks for a long time and the whole time I was doing that the old woman that worked in there was watching me just as intently.

I don’t know who she was, but I’m sure nothing ever got pilfered under her watchful glare. When I became much older, at 12, though my true destiny in life was realized,

my attentions turned to the fabulous fishing department. Row after row of shiny fishing reels with exotic names like Shakespeare, Abu-Garcia and Daiwa called to me to be taken home.

Johnny was always tinkering with a reel either putting on fishing line or repairing one for somebody and I would just watch and ask questions.

He had the best selection of rods and lures also and most all of my lawn cutting money went to Mr. Panton.

He was a kind-souled, good-natured fellow that I always thought was a little nervous, especially when he spoke.

But he was a wheeler-dealer also, let me tell ya, he could haggle.

I turned the tides on him one day, though.

I had started making plastic worms and wanting to expand my business I took a sample of my wares to Johnny.

He seemed impressed with my worms neatly packaged on a display card and wrapped in my mothers Saran-Wrap.

So we (of course) haggled over my cost to him and retail price until a deal was struck. I believe it was 50 cents cost and he would sell them for a dollar, 50/50 split, What a deal.

But it was the reels that always fascinated me the most in Johnny’s store and I wanted one of each model he carried. I slipped back into reality now holding one of those Shakespeare reels that were made like a fine watch.

I have accomplished that childhood dream and now own one of each model.

Most of the reels now sit on my shelf. Some, like the Johnson Sabras,

I have tracked down through e-Bay and use the 40-year-old reels exclusively today when I fish.

I miss Johnny Panton and his store and as I sat there a grin came over my face as I looked up at my store of now row after row of shiny reels on MY shelves. Wow, I thought, after all these years: Now I have become Johnny Panton.

Jeff Turner

BNRP Riverkeeper