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Some Fish Stories Are True

<p><strong>A day in the sun</strong>. Crafter “Cowboy Bob” Martin uses the sun and a magnifying glass to burn a design into a walking or hiking stick he was selling at his stand during the Sell It Again On 10 75-mile yard sale event held last Thursday through Saturday.</p>

A day in the sun. Crafter “Cowboy Bob” Martin uses the sun and a magnifying glass to burn a design into a walking or hiking stick he was selling at his stand during the Sell It Again On 10 75-mile yard sale event held last Thursday through Saturday.

Through its very nature, the Sell It Again on Highway 10 event can generate any number of stories. After all, many of the items available for the right price were previously owned, some many times over.

Of course some of the stories may border on fish tales. Then again, some fish tales are true.

When “Cowboy Dave” Martin heard about last week’s annual Sell It Again on Highway 10 event he figured he ought to peddle his handcrafted hiking and walking sticks.

Martin was one of several vendors set up east of the Sonic on the eastern edge of the city for the three day yard sale extravaganza that stretched from Hackett to Ola.

Martin got his start making the sticks in New Hampshire, where he spends most of his time. Living in his camper, Martin recently hit the road for Arkansas to visit family members in the Blue Mountain Lake area — he was born in Stuttgart and went to high school at Northside in Fort Smith — and pay respects at the grave sites of his grandparents and parent in Jenny Lind.

“I’ve got a friend I stay with in the winter time, but I told him I ain’t going to be here this winter. Bye,” said Martin. “I had enough of the snow.”

Customers were able to witness Martin create his craft on site. Taking a stick — he uses most kinds of hard woods — on which he has trimmed the bark away, he creates designs into the stick with a pocket knife then, with the assistance of the sun and a magnifying glass, traces the pattern with burn marks.

“Different magnifying glasses will work,” said Martin. “The thicker the glass the quicker it will burn on you, but the bigger the glass the higher the arch is to get that spot to make it burn.”

Safety conscious, Martin said he always uses dark glass to cut down on the glare to prevent headaches.

“It affects you the same way as welding,” said Martin. “It’s the same basic principle of welding.”

Martin began making the sticks because he needed a “fishing stick” — he still makes what he calls the specialty stick — and it became a therapy for his arthritis.

“All the fish have to be a certain size for keepers,” said Martin. “Stripped bass have to be 28 inches for two fish. The limits for New Hampshire and Massachusetts are the same size. When you go up to Maine they have what is called a slot limit, which is 20 to 26 inches you can keep, 26 to 40 you have to release and over 40 you can keep.”

Essentially, the idea is to preserve the breeding fish, thus preserving the industry.

To check fish he caught, Martin created a stick on which he created a tape measure on which he burned the marking. On the opposite side of the stick are the regulatory sizes for each state.

“I sell them as quick as I can make them,” he said.

Recently, Martin said, he connected with a representative of a company interested in the sticks, who bought all he had.

In New Hampshire, Martin said, he acquired his material from his friend from beaver dams, once, the beavers have been trapped and removed. Here, he acquired the sticks from relatives’ properties.

Besides the multiple-vendor stand where Martin was working, there were several others that offered a shopping variety, including church group and others who used the event for project fundraising.

As has been the case throughout the now four year history of Sell It Again, the variety of wares for sale was extensive. Available were collectibles, clothing, accessories, entertainment, plumbing supplies, vehicles like four wheelers, small appliances, furniture, holiday decorations, medical equipment, crafts, toys, a vendor with five-gallon buckets, puzzles, even horse trailers and more.

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