When I was a kid, my brother Mike and cousin Scott couldn’t wait for our grandpa to get home from work on Friday nights, and let us help him pack his and grandma’s pickup camper with all our fishing and camping gear.
For many years, we grew up riding in the back of that old pickup (sheltered by the camper shell) heading south out of Newcastle toward Ardmore Mountain Lake. Some of my fondest memories of childhood included the many camping and fishing trips in southern Oklahoma spent with my family at our campsite near the old dam that was built in 1921.
After my youngest brother Russell was born in 1974 and began following us around, we started including him as a part of our Tuesday night rituals of sitting around the television with grandpa and watching the Wallace Wildlife Show on Channel 4. We were all fascinated with how Don would tell the story and show recordings of his trips to such fascinating places as Port Aransas or Lake Texhoma.
Those destinations seemed so far away to us little boys and we were always amazed at some of the huge stripers and catfish that Don and his friends would always catch and get in the boat.
As children, I can remember using our imaginations, and actually playing the Wallace Wildlife Show. Mike would be the announcer, Scott would be Don Wallace and I would sometimes direct the show since I was the oldest.
One day, I walked back into the middle bedroom where we had all our toys and slept whenever we stayed the night at grandma and grandpa’s house and Mike and Scott were doing their interview about the recent trip to Ardmore Mountain Lake.
Mike was about 7-years-old and had an old hammer he was using as the microphone. I remember him saying, “We are here with Don Wallace talking with him about fishing.” He then held the hammer over near Scott and asked him what they were fishing for, and to my amusement, Scott (Don Wallace) replied, “Fish!”
Mike continued to interview Scott (Don Wallace) about what lake they were at and how many fish they had caught. I just listened to my younger relatives and have always remembered how that Tuesday night fishing show impacted us in a positive way.
Most of you who read my column know that Don Wallace lives right here in Yukon. Mike told me he saw him at the Oklahoma City Tackle show not too long ago and asked him for his autograph. Mike said he was so honored to have met his childhood idol and to have had the honor and privilege to introduce his son Zach to him.
Don has a clip on Youtube where he humbly describes how his life has been so fulfilling since he has been able to do what he loves for a living. He is now 89 or 90 years old and he is to my family in the same realm as Roger Staubach or Tom Landry. We often talk about him when we go fishing together and all have a different story about a particular show he did.
Don still recruits the senior citizens to accompany him to Mexico and Canadian fishing excursions and the word is that he is always booked-up! I wish my Grandpa was still alive so I could send him and Mike to fish with Don. That trip would be the biggest adventure of my grandpa’s life!
We are preparing to interview Don for a summer feature article for the Progress. I told our sports reporter Trey to call Mr. Wallace and really go back into the archives for a story on him that will touch all the people who watched him catch all those fish for all those years. I am sure he has photos and videos he could share with us that include many folks from Yukon.
I believe those of us who were touched by him back in the 70’s feel like it is time to either put his name on the water tower, name a street after him or to open a Czech Day fish and hush puppies food truck named after him. I might just have to create a fish fry mix with his picture on the box!
If you want to make your day better, find the Youtube interview of Don Wallace and watch it. It will really take you back about 40 years and remind you of a time when families sat together around the television and were entertained by the excitement of catching big old catfish!
Oh and by the way, in my book, Yukon’s Don Wallace created reality television years ago and provided a positive influence on the lives of so many families who gathered in front of the television every Tuesday night. I think Don is why Luke Bryan sings, “Hunting and Fishing and Lovin’ everyday!”
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?