Re: A Tribute to Al Bentsen
Many here knew Al much better than I. But I had the chance to get to know how he operated back in the day on Cape Cod. When we got to P-town in 1970, we noticed that the beach fishing was carried on by a bunch of New York surfcasters -- really the only ones who fished it right. There were practically no locals fishing the beach -- two, Conrad and George DeRosa. Other locals by then had gone to boat fishing. A few Mass guys like George Carlizon and a gaggle of Thundermist Striper Club guys from RI who stayed in campers and religiously fished the Second Rip. The real surfmen were the New York bunch. And they, apparently to share the cost of travel, or to provide security, fished in groups. The one exception was Al, who, from my vantage, was nearly always alone. I had heard a lot about Al Bentsen because he was apparently viewed as some sort of high-liner. One soon learned that this guy was so prominent with the others that if he drank Pepsi, they would drink it too. Big deal, I thought. I also learned that he had to come out of step with the other New York guys or he was followed mercilessly. The others came on the Full moon and Al came on the New or dark moon for the simple peace that is supposed to be in surfcasting. What moved me most about him was that, unlike so many others, he didn't need an entourage to get around. I related strongly to his methods because I have always been a loner also.
The New Yorker that I got to know first was Tom Murphy-- who we lost just last month -- who was also a loner. Murphy was always talking about Bentsen like he was some kind of folk hero. Big deal. It never occurred to me that Murphy's idol and the dark moon guy were one in the same until way later, maybe years. A lot of us didn't want any friends because relationships caused obligations over the fishing and there were too many trying to trade good grain for oats that had already been through the horse and with so many of you from Jersey or Long Island, you have to know what that is. I got to know Al very slowly during mid-watch hunts on the dark moons. He fished a black Harnell, approached with headlights out, said little, came alone, minded his own business, and hid his rigged eels like they were some kind of precious material. Murphy had said that this guy was the inventor or originator of the eel fished dead and I was beginning to put two and two together. I'll come back to this.