Hello from Hazard!
Aha! We’ve just learned what a nifty little gizmo Item No. 628 is. Thelma Keener of Painesville, Ohio, and Fred Zwicker of Canfield, Ohio, agree that it is a fisherman’s hook or line retriever (it may have a more fancy, official name).
Mr. Zwicker included great details in his e-mail, so we’ll just let his words tell you more:
“During the 1940s, I visited my aunt in Chicago and noticed fishermen sitting on Lake Michigan piers with a trolley arrangement, using such a device as is shown in this week’s issue of the Farm and Dairy. Fisherman caught many perch from the piers with this setup.
“The objects shown in the paper are shown upside down. It is about 3 inches long and made of lead with brass pulleys and an open end on one end only (called a “keeper” in your article). Here is how a trolley line works for fishing:
1) Fisherman throws out a fairly heavy line with a very small anchor, or weighted object with hooks to securely grab the bottom surface of the lake.
2) This heavy line is pulled tight and tied to a cleat on the pier or to some other permanent part of the pier.
3) The weighted trolley (shown in your picture) is attached over the top of the heavy line so that the trolley can roll up and down this line, with the weighted portion of the trolley hanging below the line and the open end (keeper) of the trolley facing the fisherman on the pier.
4) A fishing line is attached to the open end (keeper) of the weighted trolley.
5) From this fishing line are attached six or more short lines with fish hook on end. These shorter lines start about 2 foot up from the trolley and then about every 18 to 24 inches apart. This allows for multiple baits at different depth levels.
6) Hooks are baited and weighted trolley is lowered to the bottom of the lake. Due to the weight of the trolley, it goes to the bottom.
7) The top of the longer fishing line is pulled taut and attached to a “bell” which is attached to a piece of wood that fisherman sits on while fishing. The bell has a flexible metal holder which will flex easily when line is pulled (by a fish).
8) When the bell rings, it indicates that there is a fish on the line. Fisherman pulls the longer fishing line up and removes the fish, rebaits the hook and lowers the line for the next fish. It is not necessary to disconnect the line from the bell or trolley – just pull up the line and keep it coiled on pier so as not to get tangled. Often, two or more perch are caught at the same time.
“Many times, as the first fish is being retrieved, others will hit the moving bait. After rebaiting hooks, fisherman sends the line to the bottom and resumes fishing.
“At the time, I was amazed at the success of the fishermen using this setup. The perch were thrown into garbage cans, and at the end of the day, the fishermen took their garbage can full of perch on the street cars – going home for the day. I was so impressed that I purchased one of the trolleys, which I never used, but still have. Mine is about 4 inches long, made of lead with an opening on one end and brass rollers, which can be attached to the line easily by snapping over top of the line. I am not sure if fishing in this manner is legal in Ohio, or even in other states at the present time, but can say that it was highly productive when the school of perch came close to shore.”
Thank you, Fred, for all your time in explaining to readers how this thing works – and for the vivid picture of the successful anglers heading home on the streetcar with a garbage can full of fish!
Reader Bob Moore sent us a comment on Item No. 627. He says they’re called “jaws” and are used to remove the drill bit from the stem of a drilling rig (gas or oil). Two are needed; one on the stem and one on the bit.
Now, on to Item No. 629, which we discovered in the Columbiana County Historical Association’s “Items of Yesteryear” building during the Columbiana County Fair. What do you think it is? It measures about 12 inches (more when unscrewed).
Send your guesses to: Hazard a Guess, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week.