Together they had wandered and hunted from British Columbia to Montana, bending rules and creating a backlog of stories, mishaps and disasters that became family legend. Joe was now 73. Though dad
scratched and sputtered for a good ten minutes there was simply nothing he could say, knowing I would trump any objection. If Joe had been good enough for him, he must be good enough for me. Finally he relented.
My call the next morning set the pattern for the next three years.
"Hey, Uncle Joe!," I asked. "You want to go fishing for four days. We can take dad's camper."
"Oh, it's Pietro. Fishing for four days? Ma'sure. We will have an adventure. When do you want to leave?"
"Well, I thought tomorrow morning. But we could get there tonight if we left after lunch."
"O.K., I'll go down to Merlino's and pick up some salami and copacolla and fresh bread. Pick me up here."
He never asked where we were going. He didn't care.
Joe Carbonatto was one of the older generation of my relatives, one of the original immigrants. A late-comer to the family, and to America, he had married my grandmother's youngest sister Molly,
long after the family and perhaps Molly herself had given up on her marital chances. His background was then to me a missing piece in the old-country family puzzle, like so many of my older, accent
burdened relatives. A history rarely recounted. I knew Joe had worked as a produce buyer, shuttling between the immigrant farms and orchards of eastern Washington and California and the population base in Seattle. He had made enough money so that he had retired comfortably, with a little "empire",
as he called it. He then busied himself with a little land speculation here, a shared development there, and a few houses bought, rented, and eventually sold at a profit. It took me awhile to realize that the fact that each of his rental houses had frontage on a steelhead plunking hole on the nearby Duwamish River
was NOT a lucky accident. Joe was functionally known to me best as the source of the carload, that is TRAIN carload of California zinfandel grapes that appeared each fall during early duck season to be crushed and pressed into barrel upon barrel of the family's wine for the year.
Together, from the start, we formed an unusual but complete fishing and hunting pair. I had the energy, the ambition, and the camper. Joe had the food, the cooking skills, and the time. And he had the philosophy. It didn't matter; whether my wild-goose-chase map reading led us to a dried lake bed, or a sterile, run off river, Joe would laugh and cook up a pot of spaghetti and settle back with a gallon of his
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