On December 7, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt said, “Today is a day that will live in infamy.” It may be a coincidence, but exactly one year later John Clarence Gartside was born. Happy birthday, Jack. Wish you were still with us, but in many ways you are.
If you’re a Facebook member you can wish Jack happy birthday on his Facebook page. Here’s the link:
On October 9th the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum inducted Jack into its Fly Fishing’s Hall of Fame. Other inductees were John Randolph, Louis Rhead, and Art Lee.
Bummer to say that between traffic and weather the drive from Boston to Roscoe, NY took longer than I allowed for. I missed most of the actual induction ceremony. But I got there for the cookies and apple cider, with time to mingle and tour the museum. There was a dinner afterwords where Bob Popovics presented Ted Patlen with the Poul Jorgensen Golden Hook Award. Before presenting the award Bob voiced a few of his fond memories of Jack, including the story of how Jack got him into his first tarpon. Hearing the warmth in Bob’s voice as he spoke about the old days in the Keys, Vaca Cut, and the old Golden Grouper…it was one of the high points of the evening.
The museum is really interesting, packed with items of lore and tributes to fishers of legend. If you’re ever in the Roscoe vicinity (about 90 miles northwest of New York City) it’s well worth a visit. Jack’s friend Mel Harris once observed, “There were two things Jack was proud of…his flies and his lifestyle.” The museum’s exhibit does a fine job of showing both. It includes three of Jack’s self-published books: Scratching the Surface, Flies for the 21st Century, and Striper Strategies. There are fly boxes too, crowded with Gartside Gurglers, Soft Hackle Streamers, BeastMasters, Corsair Minnows, Sparrow Nymphs, and Gartside Pheasant Hoppers. There’s a Red Sox hat, a Christmas gift to Jack a few years ago to replace one he wore for years until it fell apart.
From Jack’s family of friends, a big thank you to Jim Krul and the rest of the museum staff for allowing us the privilege of seeing our friend honored in this way.
Sad news. Last night, after a hospitalization of several weeks, Jack finally lost his protracted battle with lung cancer. He was in bed resting comfortably, attended by good friends. Outside his window the first snow of the season was silently falling.
Jack meant so much to so many of us. For his part, of his friends and fans he always said, “I’m the richest man I know.” Over the years there were so many stories written by those friendships: funny, warm, inspiring, head-shakingly amazing, and even a few death-defyingly nuts. Here’s hoping you’ll share your own thoughts or experiences with Jack in the Comments below (posted comments will appear after a brief delay).
Goodbye, buddy. You’ve gone on ahead. Most likely you’re already scouting the water, noting the currents and structure. So that when finally we catch up you’ll just point to a spot and say, “There. Cast your fly there.”
This is Jack here, back to leading as normal and as full a life as I can while undergoing the treatments that I have to go through that will bring me back to full health and a future filled with more adventures and explorations, ideas and creations, friends and follies. So stay tuned.
As you probably learned from the last newsletter sent out by my webmaster Mike Quigley, I’ve been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and also what is called superior vena cava syndrome. I was in the VA hospital for several weeks but am now home as an outpatient. So far the treatments have been going very well, better than expected actually. I just finished a second round of chemo last week (two more to go) as well as my first radiation treatments (only 33 more to go). As you can guess these treatments are a little tiring but on the whole not so bad as you might think. I’m in pretty good spirits, experiencing no real difficulties (except for a radical change in my sense of smell and in my taste buds which makes a lot of food taste just awful–but this will pass as the weeks go on). I just try to live each day as best I can and to be thankful for all that is good in my life.
Hundreds of emails, get-well cards, and telephone calls have come in within the past few weeks, from all over the world, from friends and strangers alike, and although I’d love to respond to each one, it’d be a bit difficult right now but I’d like to thank everyone who wrote or called. I appreciate your thoughts and concern much more than you can know, than I can tell. It means the world to me to know that people care; they really do. And I do, too. God bless you all.
After kind of a down week following chemo Jack is back at it–his appetite has returned (which has him quite pleased), his energy is rebounding, side-effects have lessened and he’s feeling pretty good. (The Ginger Hemp Granola he’s been scarfing down may have something to do with this.)
I mentioned in a previous post that Jack wouldn’t be tying for a bit and in the the interim friends would fill his orders from stock. Also that correspondance would be delayed. That time is now past. We’re back to pure Gartside. 🙂
Starting on or about December first Jack begins his final round of treatment: a six week outpatient course of chemo and radiation.
After an initial week-long treatment of chemo and radiation Jack has been discharged from the hospital and is back home. Chemo seriously compromises your immune system and in its immediate aftermath the greatest risk is that of an infection, virus, pneumonia, or other transmittable bug hitting you at a time when your system can’t fight it. Turns out that hospitals are actually high risk environments for communicable nasties. All those sick people, I guess.
So Jack is at home. He has responded well to the initial round of treatment. “Miraculous” is the very word his doctors used. His next round of treatment is scheduled for December 1. Until then the plan is he’ll be at home. Right now he’s just resting, glad to be back in familiar surroundings. The treatment has sapped him so he’s snoozing a lot. Generally he’s been free of many of the negative side effects of chemo. He hasn’t grown a set of horns or a tail (or, cuz it’s Jack, I should say he hasn’t grown a second set of horns and a second tail). A few local friends have been helping out with meals and running errands and they’ve been just great. Continue reading “Jack at home, where the fish are still biting”
A few of you may know (though most probably don’t) that Jack was hospitalized last week. The diagnosis is small-cell lung cancer. Not something you want to have. Right now he’s undergoing an aggressive course of chemotherapy and radiation.
When you hear a friend has cancer the ground drops from under your feet. You picture your friend diminished by disease, a whisper of his or her former self. You feel helpless, kicked in the gut (at least, that’s how I felt).
All I can say is that cancer has never butted heads with the irresistible force that is Jack Gartside before.
He’s in amazing spirits–laughing and joking. His second day in, as doctors entered the room, serious, conferring, they burst out laughing at the site of Jack and all his visitors all wearing these goofy coke bottle eyeglasses Katie Lavelle had brought over. With an unfamiliar stretch of the Charles River flowing by his hospital window, Jack convinced Dale Linder and Dave Skok to bring their rods and fish it on their next visit so he can know what’s in there. Continue reading “Important: about Jack”