With great sadness I had to rewrite this column at the eleventh hour. Old friend Roger Chezem was fishing a lake with huge bluegill. He proudly showed me pictures of gills measuring 10-11 inches. I was excited that my friend of over 40 years invited me to go with him last Monday
We tried the south side of the lake and found what is considered safe ice. The spot had been good, but not this day. Test holes on the north side showed us only two inches. Just beyond was Roger’s best spot. “I don’t feel comfortable going any further,” he said. Thickness varied over the lake, but we only fished where there was four inches. Roger hooked a big bass that broke his line, but that was it. We quit early afternoon without a fish.
We talked about old friends who had passed; of the aches and pains of growing old. Children, grandchildren and mutual acquaintances were, as well, a part of the conversation.
Chezem always talked about the Boy Scouts and one, Ed Bollman, who grew up to become an Indiana Conservation Officer. Ed was like a son to Roger. The two ice fished together frequently.
On the way home, Roger and I made plans for future fishing trips and vowed to stay in touch.
Monday night got cold and should have firmed the ice. Ed and Roger decided they could go one more time Tuesday evening. I know they would have kept some distance between them but I’m guessing one fell through the ice and the other tried to reach his friend by extending something and had the ice break on him as well. Whatever happened, one would not have left the other. Both men drowned.
I met but did not know Officer Bollman. Roger Chezam was a rare individual who gave of himself to help others. He had a positive impact on hundreds of young men through the Boy Scouts.
Goodbye old friend.