Saturday’s blog featured a release about100 years of Abu Garcia. Obviously, I wasn’t there there all that time — but my relatively early involvement was a significant part of my life.
As a youngster crazy about fishing, I thought it would be great to work in the fishing tackle business or to earn a living writing about the sport in magazines or a newspaper. There was no apparent path to do so, but as it turned out that’s exactly what eventually happened though there were some twists of fate involved.
After graduating from Naval Officers Candidate School at Newport R.I in 1959, I was assigned to a destroyer (John R. Pierce DD -753) and served for a year as First Lt. on that WW II rust bucket before receiving a change in orders to the U.S. Naval Station in Trinidad, West Indies — where I could fish every night from empty piers. I also bought a 20-foot skiff cut from a single tree which was powered by a 12 HP West Bend outboard with which I fished the Caribbean Sea despite having no radio and only a pair of oars in case anything went wrong.
When my tour of duty was up (after an extension in the Berlin Crisis), I returned to N.Y. with a taste for adventure — and no desire to commute to a desk job as my father had done. Therefore, I applied to the C.I.A.
I took the test in Washington and looked for a job to hold me over before finding out if I was accepted. I saw a sales position advertised in the Sunday N.Y. Times for a man with a car who was interested in fishing. That sounded just right, especially when it turned out that the ad was placed by the manufacturers rep for Garcia. That was the only time such an ad had been placed in a newspaper since jobs in the trade usually were passed on to family members or relatives.
Traveling along the coast to visit tackle shops put me in a position to learn much more about fishing, particularly in New England where I became a fishing partner of the great plug innovator, Stan Gibbs and many other top anglers while catching striped bass larger than I’d ever dreamed of.
When the C.I.A. called, I decided to stick with my dream job which actually also paid better. I later found out the delay in acceptance was due to a security check though I already had final top secret clearance from the Navy as the War Plans Officer in Trinidad. If it wasn’t for that delay I would have been a “spook” instead of an outdoor writer!
Tom Lenk was the visionary president of Garcia who turned a small Spanish importing firm into the the giant of the fishing tackle business by introducing mass merchandising techniques into what had been a small store business by introducing Mitchell spinning reels to the public and bringing the price of getting into that relatively new to Americans method of fishing into the range most anglers.
I’ll conclude about those early days of Garcia tomorrow.
The storm warning continues through late tonight with northeast gusts to 55 knots before dropping to north 20-25 with gusts to 30 along with likely snow in the morning.