Brothersbond onthe river

Joe Carlson

Like the pillars of a pier, brothers Norman and Frank Holley have quietly withstood the current of time; they fish and watch the city change along the banks of the Mississippi.
“I’ve come here since the late ’50s. Not exactly right here, but along the river,” Norman Holley said. “It’s not like it was when I was young. … There’s a whole lot of bad things going on.”
Fishing season doesn’t start until May 10, but the brothers are content to go fishing for walleyes and small mouth bass and release their catch.
The reason for their chosen site in front of the University’s Southeast Steam Plant is simple. “(The fish) come here to get out of the current,” Frank Holley said.
The brothers said that they enjoy coming out to the river to get away from the monotony of house-bound life. It’s also a great place to go to ponder.
One thing they said they think about while fishing is the current state of the city.
“I’ve seen it change a whole lot,” Frank Holley said. “It’s gotten violent, especially in the last 10 or 20 years … people are too quick to pull guns.”
They said they think it is largely younger people who are responsible for the increased crime in Minneapolis, and see a few major reasons behind the changes. First, kids aren’t learning the values that they need, like respect for people and a strong work ethic.
“You have to give them different values,” Frank Holley said. And the brothers should know from experience.
Frank has two kids, Frank Junior, 14, and Dionne, 29. Norman, whose children are grown, takes care of his grandchildren Diaz, 10, and Ty-yn, 7.
But even if kids did get the right values from their parents, there is still the problem of destructive boredom.
“There’s not enough programs to keep the kids busy,” Norman Holley said. “When they get bored, that’s when they get into trouble.”
The brothers said that when they were younger, there were more places they could go and more positive activities to keep them busy.
“When I was coming up … there was the YMCA. Most of the high schools and junior highs were open in the evenings,” so that kids could use the gymnasiums. “They don’t do that any more,” Frank Holley said.
“Some kids haven’t even been outside the city to see the woods … except on TV,” Norman Holley said.
Frank Holley said that he sees a lot of good ideas going around, but nobody is carrying them through. “I see a lot of people talking.”
Norman Holley said that his grandkids experience the outdoors through a program offered through the Salvation Army.
“They’re in a lot of programs … keeping busy,” Norman Holley said.
Work is another way that kids can keep busy. “There’s nothing wrong with working a job for a living,” Frank Holley said.
Another change that they’ve seen is a decrease in the number of fish species in the river. Before, there used to be many crayfish and live clams. “There aren’t any of that around here any more,” Norman Holley said. He attributes the disappearance to pollution from the factories along the Mississippi.
But no matter the state of the city or the river, they will keep coming back to calming the banks of the Mississippi.
“When I’m not at work, I’ll be here or somewhere like this,” Norman Holley said.