Of the great many photographs my father took throughout his life, this one may be my favorite. He took this picture just off the Connecticut shore in the late 1950s.
It is of Bill Fullerton, a great friend of both my father and my grandfather.
For decades the three of them would go duck shooting together. They would have carved all of their own decoys (some seen here). My grandfather, father, and Bill would leave before dawn, usually rowing out in the icy water to the rocky islands. (My grandfather taught my father the proper way to row, feathering the oars, and all were fanatical about getting it right.) They would set the decoys by lantern, mindful to avoid the tangling of lines.
Then they would sit on the lee side of the rocks and, with their pipes and a thermos of coffee, wait for the sun to come up. Even on the coldest mornings, they never wore gloves.
Often they would be out all day. They even had a particular groove in the rocks where they would place the pipes when they shot. And they always returned with ducks for my grandmother or mother to cook.
Bill Fullerton was one of those "wicked clever" men to whom everyone went when they couldn't figure something out. (The Fullertons were an old New England family, emigrating from Scotland in the 1600s, and he reminded me of the character Golly, the ghillie on Monarch of the Glen (mentioned here).) I still have and use every day his mother's 1850 farmhouse kitchen drop-leaf table with its ash top and maple legs.
We live in a culture that focuses a lot on youth. But sometimes, I really miss more adults.