Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Fish Story Out of Dad's 1937 Social Security Application

[added a new image - hunting / May 23, 2013]
Rummaging through some of my images and the HP scan archives (or a folder to catch all scans), I came across my dad's Application for a Social Security Card (form SS-5) . Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on August 14, 1935 according to the official website of the Social Security Administration, and it says that taxes were collected for the first time in January 1937 and the first one-time, lump-sum payments were made that same month. Regular ongoing monthly benefits started in January 1940.

Dad applied June 5, 1937 about six months after Social Security started. He must have had one of the early numbers which number was handwritten on this application in the upper right corner, but I erased it for this blog post, even though my dad had died in the early 1970s and no one could use it anyway.

I don't know how thrilled anyone would be seeing this application, but it does reveal some little known facts about my dad. One of those little discoveries on this "application for account number" is how he officially spelled his middle name. Lee Roy must be the way it was since this was for an official government document. Or was it the beginning of the spelling the way he wanted it. I have no idea because on his birth record was "Un Named Porteous," and I don't know when he actually got his name. I also wish I knew why he was named Carroll since there aren't any friends or relatives I have found with that name. One can only speculate he was named after his mother Caroline (Carrie) only with a masculine spelling.

If I didn't have his birth record, I would be relying on this application to give me the information of his birth date, who his parents were, where he lived, and that he was a "white male." This is odd, I would never have suspected this question - #13 "If registered with the U.S. Employment Service...?" [USES] and his answer was "No" This has something to do with immigration or receiving unemployment compensation of sorts. [Read about "USES" on http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/183.html]

I never knew where he was employed back then. I always thought he was a carpenter. So a little known fact -- he was employed even though the "Great Depression wouldn't end until 1939. This job at Tack-L-Tyers gave him the outdoor adventure he loved. I found this blog on fishing history which had an image about the place dad worked. [http://fishinghistory.blogspot.com/2011/03/fly-tying-kits-retrospective.html]

From a boy, dad loved fishing so it seems appropriate that he would work at a tackle store. Besides fishing, he liked making his own flies and lures along with making and repairing fishing rods. All the paraphernalia was in our basement.

I remember him sitting many nights down in the basement at an old desk tying flies. There was an old goose-neck lamp he would bend over the special vice that held the hooks tightly during the tying process. Dad had jars of different colored feathers and small drawers stuffed with chenille and special heavy thread. The feathers were from various birds like the pheasant, and ducks.  Dad would tell stories about traveling on a circuit from Illinois to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan selling his flies. I imagined he did the circuit on a horse like Abraham Lincoln did, but no, he drove his car. Dad told of several women he had who were experts in tying the most popular fly -- the tiny bee. He showed me how to tie them, but I'm sure I wasn't quite as good as those ladies.

Tying flies wasn't all occupying, he also painted lures to look like minnows or small creatures the muskies would like. They were giant whittled pieces of wood with giant four-hook hooks attached. He would also taxidermy the trophy fish he caught. I remember looking at those fish with their mouths open and all the teeth showing. They were really scary. 

There were muskies, large mouth bass, and trophy sunfish hanging
on the walls down in the basement where dad tied his flies.

Dad would hunt pheasants and ducks for their meat and their beautiful, colorful feathers.  When he'd come home from one of his hunts, I helped pluck the feathers and separate the different colors into fruit jars. I loved the pheasant tails or the iridescent mallard feathers, too. He collected deer tail in different colors to use in various special flies. I can still smell the moth balls he put in the jars to keep the moths out of the collection.

I don't know if he ever used rabbit hair for his flies, but I found this picture
of dad, his dog Dottie, and the rabbits he hunted. [added May 23, 2013]

I don't ever remember his hat without at least one fly stuck into it whether it were a baseball hat or fedora. He would point to one of the flies in his hat and say, "this one is worth a shot, and this one worth a beer." Well, he must have been true in his bartering because he knew all the "watering holes" in those four states and parts of Canada!

At dad's funeral, he was dressed in a suit, something he very seldom wore. I wanted him to be wearing his plaid flannel shirt and hat, but mom didn't think it was right for a funeral. So we compromised and put his fishing rod next to the coffin and pinned a fly on his lapel. There were so many people who upon seeing the fly, told us their fishing story of my dad.


  1. I really enjoyed this blog about Grandpa fishing. I do not have much of any memory of Grandpa. Most of your memories of your basement and the fly tying area remind me of what my dad has in his basement. Jars of feathers and fur. Your last picture reminds me of my Dad (John Porteous)

    1. I'm glad you like the story. Thanks for taking the time to read it. There are so many stories that could be told, he was a special person to a lot of people who grew up in Mundelein. I agree my brother John looks so much like dad in this last picture.

      If you can remember any thing about Grampa, send me an email. Now go read my post on hockey!