Tales of the Seventh Battalion 24


This time of the year, early spring, makes me think of the hardiest of all outdoorsmen, the ice fishermen. Some of the Seventh Battalion top guns were men like  Shemko and O’Dell but it would be hard to top the exploits of Serge Foresi. Sergie passed away last year but his adventures as a fisherman still creates good conversation around the campfires of many  deer camps.

Sergie was a knowledgeable and serious fisherman. One of his favorite tactics was to drive his car out on the thin ice late in the season to see the other outdoorsmen scatter wild eyed in every direction. Sergei said it gave him a choice of fishing holes. Another revolting method, he used to get rid of competitors, was to carry a gob of mousey worms in his mouth to keep them from freezing. When a person would come near Sergie’s fishing spot he would stick out his tongue carrying a mass of wiggling white worms. It usually kept people away from him.

Sergie had a magic touch of moving his wrist up and down, when fishing, to simulate the rising of a worm in the water. It was a deadly technique that always produced fish. He also  used this method in the summer to catch Walleyes at the park located on the Detroit River at the foot of West Grand Blvd. and Jefferson. This fishing spot was located in the Seventh battalion not far from our firehouse. When we got a taste for fish we would call out, “Let’s go fishing Sergie.” We would then pile onto our rigs and head for the park. Sergie would be tillering as we rolled up to the area where you could always find people fishing. Success for the average fisherman was usually meager at this location. People would be loafing around or laying down sleeping as Ladder 8 and Engine 27 pulled up. Sergie would bound out of the tiller seat and retrieve his fishing gear from a rear compartment. With his magic wrist motion and a hand tied jig Sergie would soon fill a bucket with juicy flopping silvery Walleyes. Sergie would then put away his gear, grab his pail of fish, and bound back into the tiller seat and we would be on our way back to quarters. We always left behind a group of bewildered fishermen trying to figure out what in the hell just happened.

In the true tradition of telling good stories, Sergie could tell tall tales. His most famous one was about the time when his Navy PBY patrol plane had to land under gale conditions. Sergie said the force of the wind was so strong that the pilot was able to back the plane into the hanger backwards while still airborne by simply adjusting his airspeed. Sergie would watch your eyes, when he told a tall tale, and if you believed him he had another story more outrageous than the first.

Not long ago I drove by Ladder 8 and Engine 27s quarters. The old building has been abandoned by the city. The rigs have been moved to a new station. The windows were boarded up and weeds and debris were wind blown around the ancient brick building. The memories warmed my heart and as I pulled away I thought I heard a voice calling in the wind, “Let’s go fishing Sergie.”

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