Joe Muldrow and Hugh Muldrow

By Chris Muldrow / Fredericksburg Today

The best meal I’ve ever eaten was a simple one.
My dad and I were at a pond in Chester, SC, that my uncle owned.
The pond is a fisherman’s dream. It’s still got standing trees in the middle of the water, and bass and bream and crappie would hide among the trees and grow fat as they dodge the alligator snapping turtles that roamed the pond.
The pond was special to me for a couple of reasons. First, it belonged to my uncle, Hugh Grey Muldrow, a WWII paratrooper who was captured by the Germans and liberated by the Russians. My grandfather on my dad’s side died before I was born. Uncle Hugh became a grandfather to me on that pond, telling me where the fish were currently massing and, when I was a little older, trusting me to go to the place by myself and letting me learn about responsibility.
But more importantly, the pond was the place where Dad and I would go to spend time with each other, usually without anyone else there.
Uncle Hugh would have a fish fry for the other POWs every year, and Dad and I would launch two wooden boats onto the pond and compete to see how many bream we could load into our live wells for the fish fry.
On one of these trips, we decided to dig into the supply of fish for our own dinner. We filleted a pile of bream by the pond, tossing the bones and scraps into the water for the catfish and turtles. Dad walked over to the field and pulled a few fresh ears of corn off of the stalks. We breaded and fried the fish and boiled up the corn and ate like kings of the Chester woods.
Dad’s death in 2001 was the first of many horrible things that happened that year. He died after open-heart surgery that year. Then we got 9/11, and my grandmother–his mom–died at the end of the year.
Dad never got a chance to meet my kids or any of my brothers’ kids. He would’ve been a great grandfather, and he would’ve been absolutely thrilled that my daughter likes to fish. I suspect he’d love to get her out on that pond in Chester to see if she could beat her dad in the fish-catching race (I knew he was letting me win when he started pulling out the fly rod instead of the spinning rod on those trips).
I’ve not been able to send Dad a Father’s Day gift for 16 years. But he’s been around every year.

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