My Grandfather's Gift
Yesterday I ventured into the self-inflicted crime scene that is our garage and emerged with this antique of sorts. For the uninitiated, it's an early Abu Garcia Mitchell spinning reel that was given to me by my grandfather, Nathan Relfe, about sixty years ago. Why so many names for the reel? Its history spans three countries: Sweden where the Abu brand originated, Mitchell, a variation of Michel, the deceased brother of the French factory owner where the reel was developed and manufactured, and Garcia, the American importer. Those in the know might think it's a Mitchell 300; however, this reel was manufactured before the "300" designation was added, so this one is simply a Mitchell and is indeed an antique. It became the world's best known spinning reel.
How did I come by it? My grandfather was teaching me the art and craft of bass fishing in an era when anglers were using fly rods and bait casting rods. He became aware of the new spinning reels and offered to buy one for me if I was interested. I agreed and he ordered one through the Hertford Hardware Store for $14.75. We put it on a seven foot Harnell rod, and I had what was probably the first spinning outfit in Hertford. Many pleasurable hours of spin casting ensued!
This reel has traversed the country a few times, been banged around in various vehicles and on rocks, and has the scars and a slightly bent handle to show for its long life. I cleaned it less-than-thoroughly upon retrieving it from its storage cavern, and I made no attempt to "photoshop" its nicks and dings.
This treasure's design is elegantly simple and simply elegant, and it works as smoothly now as it did sixty years ago. Even the drag mechanism is still smooth. The internal workings are accessible by removing three screws and lifting the side plate, and lubricant can be applied by removing one screw at the back end.
If I were to resume the art of fishing, I would use this very reel without hesitation. Otherwise, I'll figure a way to enshrine it in memory of the dear man who gave it to me six decades ago.
Jean Relfe Edwards Carr(non-registered)
How wonderful to read your story and discover you are talking about Mother's Uncle Nathan who was your grandfather!
My son and my grandson are both dedicated fisherman, as was my father who helped teach our son. I'd love them to know about your beautiful reel and your grandfather, Nathan Relfe.
Enjoyed the story and liked the photograph. A great memory for you and your grands and great grands to come. I wish you would show them how to fish with it!
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