While we were struggling to get through the Depression my father had a burst of creativity and invented a new kind of fishing sinker, which he patented. He called it the Freeline Fishing Sinker because instead of providing for the fishing line to be tied or fixed to the sinker, it had a copper tube down the middle through which the fishing line passed. Thus the sinker could lie on the bottom, and the fishing line, though it was anchored there, could move freely in and out, with the lure on the far side from the fisherman.

These sinkers were shaped sort of like this:

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with the copper tube vertical in the middle (as on this diagram - this is kind of a cross section) and hence the fishing line passing through from top to bottom.

They came in various sizes, from very tiny ones for trout fishing to great big ones for deep sea fishing. We made them in a shed on the farm in Anaheim. We heated lead up in open pots over a hot plate, poured it into molds into which the copper tubing had already been placed, then split the molds and bent the tubes to form smooth ends on both sides with a press my dad also invented. The finished sinkers were stacked head to tail in boxes and shipped in bulk.

I remember my niece, my sister's child, when she was very young, oh, four or five, standing on a chair bending over the molten lead, undoubtedly breathing in large quantities of lead fumes. Of course no one knew then (this would have been the late 1940's) the kind of damage that could do. She's now a member of Everything2, so you can see that the lead did its work.

This whole venture, which sounds very cunning now, was, like the farm itself, never much of a financial success.

About fifteen years ago my niece found a Freeline Fishing Sinker in her father-in-law's old fishing box. He lived in San Jose; God alone knows where he got it. Of course he never heard of us, or we of him.

She gave it to me. I have it here, on my desk.

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