We lost someone dear to us last week. Bev Douglas, half of the duo of Bev and Fred of Freddie’s Fishing Float, died of bone cancer at the young age of 71.
We are a river family, and from nearly day one have spent hours and hours each summer plying the channel and backwaters of the Mississippi, birdwatching, turtle watching, waterskiing, tubing, swimming, and now and then fishing.
We discovered Freddie’s Float after we moved our docking location from the Whitman pool to the Winona pool. Freddie’s became a great place to take the kids for a lunch of hot dogs or brats, accompanied by a bag of chips and a soda (and Freddie’s had beer for those of age).
The kids loved Bev and Fred. Freddie made them laugh, and one August day paid them a penny a piece for killing house flies, which endeared him to them forever. Fred, a salesman at heart (think Choate’s Applicance Dept.) was among the most charming men ever born. The kids loved the idea of there being a bowling alley in the Float’s “basement” (you’d be surprised at how many people fell for that one). And they thought that being at a place that advertised itself as a spot where you could find “danger, romance, and a few fish” was pretty cool.
Bev was the mother figure of the Float. She dried tears, listened to problems, patiently waited while a person picked which kind of candy bar to buy (and that was just the adults), and was generally easy to love. Our youngest called her “Beven,” as in Bev ‘n’ Fred.
Fred at one point renovated an old barge, putting a motor and toilet facilities on it, and called it the Black Eye. You could rent the Black Eye for river tours, which we at the Winona Post did for a company picnic on at least one occasion. The kids thought the Black Eye might be a pirate ship, and I guess that would have made Fred the pirate, which he could easily have carried off.
During the winter, Fred and Bev lived in Marathon Key in Florida. They had a mobile home, a fishing boat, and a bicycle, and that’s about all they needed to enjoy a winter out of the Wisconsin winter. When they returned in the spring, we couldn’t wait to get in the runabout and noodle up to the Float to welcome them back to God’s Country.
Freddie died several years ago, taken by lung cancer, a painful, lingering death. Too young. Now Bev has joined him, after an illness of about a month and a half.
Bev and Fred Douglas made life on the river in these parts fun and interesting. Their time at Freddies Float (where the Teeny Weeny Bikini Contest originated) is legendary. Bev’s passing is the end of an era on the banks of the Mississippi River below the Fountain City Lock and Dam that lives on only in fond memories.
Merry Christmas to all our readers
As we wind down the year, pass the winter solstice, and approach Christmas Day, it’s time to think of the blessings of the year past, and our readers are at the top of the list. After so many years (it will be 40 years in 2011) of spending nearly my entire adult life running the Winona Post, my favorite part is meeting our readers. I love hearing people tell us how much they value the Post, how much they like our stories, our columns, and the fact that we are free circulation. I love the ideas our readers give us for future stories, the photos they send us, and the fact that when they leave in retirement to move south or somewhere “closer to the kids” they often pay for a subscription to the Post just to keep in touch.
I also have a real fondness for our advertisers, who are the ones who make it possible for our readers to receive the Winona Post twice a week for free. In forty years we’ve made friends with many of our advertisers, and thank them not only for their loyalty to us, but to the Winona area, a magical place we love very much.
We certainly aren’t worried this year about whether or not Santa will be able to find enough snow to park his sleigh, and it looks as though there is a glimmer of light in these dark days of the economic recession. So, to all of you, Merry Christmas from our place to yours!