Facebook, A Matter of Life and Death

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Just What the Doctor Ordered Photo by Louis Cahill

“Gone Fishing! Great way to start the New Year with a little father / son outing.”

That’s what Harry Murray’s Facebook status read on New Year’s day. I was thrilled, and confused. You see, I had heard through the fly fishing grapevine the Harry had passed away. For those of you who do not know, Harry is the Dean of Virginia fly fishing. Although I don’t know Harry personally we have a lot of connections. His fly shop in Edinburg, VA opened in 1962, the year I was born. My grandfather knew Harry and frequented his shop back when it was a pharmacy. (Harry is a pharmacist who ended up in the fly fishing business.) I still have some of Harry’s flies in the old pill bottles he used to pack them in. It was Harry who introduced my good friend Gary Lacey to bamboo rod making. Gary is now one of the best rod makers in the world and taught me to make rods fifteen years or so ago. When I heard that he had passed I couldn’t believe it. I just wasn’t ready for a world without Harry Murray.

It made me think of the morning last year when I answered my phone at eight a.m. To hear my good friend Andrew Bennett, breathless on the other end. He wasn’t really talking and it was clear something was wrong. It spooked me because Andrew is as tough a guy as you are likely to meet. Not easily shaken up. “Are you alright?”, I asked. “yeah, I’m fine now that I hear your voice”, Andrew replied. Now, Andrew and I are friends but I’m not used to getting “that kind of call” from my fishing buddies so I was a bit puzzled. Turns out, someone had seen a photo of mine on Andrew’s blog and sent him an email saying, “hey, did you hear Louis Cahill died?” it’s a long story but here’s the gist of it.

I was doing a photo shoot at a hospital, a regular commercial client of mine. We were on the roof shooting the helicopter EMTs. Amazing individuals who I have great respect for. My Art Director and I were screwing around on Facebook from our phones. He took a photo of the helicopter with the iPhone and because of the way the phone works it looked like one of the helicopter’s rotors was flying off. He posted it on Facebook with the caption, “oh shit, the rotor flew off!” I commented on it so it showed up on my wall. I took a photo of him pretending to be a patient on a stretcher and posted it. Meanwhile this guy sees my photo, confuses me with someone else who died and sends Andrew an email. Andrew is on Facebook, looks at my page and sees what look like photos of a helicopter crash and there you go. I died in a helicopter crash. I got a hundred text messages, emails and phone calls that day to see if I was alive.

It seemed odd that people would call if they thought you were dead, but it didn’t stop me from calling Harry. I was quite happy when he picked up the phone. The world is better with him in it. So as easily as Facebook killed me, it brought Harry Murray back to life. The shop celebrates it’s 50th anniversary this year. Check out his site, or better yet, do some great smallmouth fishing with one of Harry’s guides. That’s my New Year’s resolution.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Facebook, A Matter of Life and Death

  1. Glad to hear that Harry is alive and well. I made a short business trip to the DC area about a year ago and called his shop in advance for advice on squeezing in a fishing day. Harry spent a lot of time discussing my options. I visited his shop and he provided more information and showed me directions to some nice spots on his topo maps. A truly nice fellow.

  2. Actually the premature death notice has interesting possibilities.

    You find out who your real friends are. You find out who calls up your widow to ‘get back that Garrison bamboo fly rod that he loaned you.’

    You find out who hits on her, assuming she’s hot.

    You can have a friend schedule a party to celebrate the lowlife scumbag bastard kicking off and then find out who comes. Then you get to see their faces when you show up.

    As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”

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