The Hula Popper Christmas

How often do we experience something and know it will be with us for the rest of our lives?

Jonathan Spadt

First posted Jan 1 2017 Last updated Jan 4 2017

We all remember the big moments - our wedding to the love of our life; the birth of our children; the first day of school for them; their first deer . . . ! We experience these things knowing they will be with us forever in our hearts and minds. But many smaller experiences don't seem to take on special meaning until some period of time later when the wisdom that comes from age shapes these memories into lessons or simply little points of light upon which we can look back at and smile. This Christmas, however, I experienced a moment which I knew right away would stay with me forever.

My oldest son, Henry, has been fishing and hunting with us for years now. At 14, he is young but full of the outdoor spirit. It has captured him for sure! Camping and hunting seemed to be his main interests, but during 2016 he caught the fishing bug really heavy. He found one of my old tackle boxes in the garage and started rummaging through it. He asked me detailed questions about each lure - what it was, what I had caught with it, where I had fished with it. The memories associated with old tackle took on new meaning to me, as most of the lures in that old box were from 30 plus years ago when I was his age.

Included in the old box was an Arbogast Hula Popper. I suspect I got it around 1978, which would have been the marked transition that occurred in my fishing career from live worms to artificial baits. That lure had been a mainstay of mine growing up in eastern PA and later in Ohio during junior high and high school. Now it was dirty, the hooks were rusting off and the plastic skirt was dry rotted and turning to dust. I put it back in the small tackle box, closed it, and handed it to Henry. "Here. It's yours. Have as much fun with it as I did." His eyes got wide as he said thanks. He has his own box and it has plenty of lures - spinners, plugs, spoons, plastic worms. The norm for a 14 year old boy who dreams of big bass and colorful trout. But it seemed he thought it special to have ol' dad's tackle box.

On Christmas morning I opened a small gift and behold: A brand new Hula Popper in a plastic container. I was pleased with the gift and then noticed that the plug body had the looks of my old plug in that old box. But it couldn't be. The hooks were shiny and the skirt like new! I looked at Henry. He smiled. "I fixed up your old Hula Popper. Now you can use it again!"

The bond we fathers have with our sons is complex, as any father of a son will tell you. But at that moment, I never felt a stronger love; and it was manifested in a simple act and the giving of a simple fishing lure. I knew as I sat by the woodstove holding that lure that I would remember the moment and the feeling for the rest of my life.


  • Gilles Brousseau

    Gilles Brousseau

    Jonathan, what a gift it is to have such a precious relations with your sons and God knows it is not always easy at times. You have given them all your love and attention and now are being rewarded for your efforts in doing so. You are privileged to now have life long hunting and fishing partners and what better than your sons as well as your wife.
    I must say that you have super writing attributes describing your strong family principles and love of the outdoors, I just really enjoy your articles. Keep writing and sharing with us your followers!

    Gilles Brousseau

  • Jonathan Spadt

    Jonathan Spadt

    Ain't that the truth, Pop!

  • Ron Koontz

    Ron Koontz

    Great story! It's the little / simple things that create lasting memories............a hula popper! That'll work on a "pond"!