The Sportsman’s Corner: Miraculous recovery

  • Liz Donald and Jon Flis have opened Flis Market in Erving Center as a family-owned market catering to the local community. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Published: 7/29/2021 1:20:50 PM
Modified: 7/29/2021 1:20:53 PM

Those of you who know me know that losing my iPhone has become a habit over the years. Sometimes it was quickly found and sometimes extraordinary measures — particularly the “Find My iPhone” app — have been required, but each time the disaster of having to replace my Smartphone has always been avoided. It seems like so much of our lives revolves around those devices. They hold years of contact information that replaces the address book. Remember them? Bank accounts and so much personal information are stored in those phones that losing them is downright frightening. Granted, the mysterious place known as “the cloud” does store and immediately save much of our information but pictures and addresses are so important, and we take it for granted that everything always seems to be available immediately at our fingertips (or thumb tips).

Now for this writer’s latest disaster: Last Friday night, after attending a social event, a quick dusk fishing trip, like so many things, “seemed like a good idea at the time.” The fish were not cooperating, so it was a quick trip and back to the dock. Nothing unusual about it. Tied the boat and then carried my gear up and spent five minutes covering the boat. After finishing, a last-minute decision to go check on the water in the cellar next door prompted a quick left turn. Too quick, apparently, as a misstep in the twilight resulted in losing my balance as I squeezed past the boat steps and off the retaining wall I went. Still, no big deal. Two feet of water meant my shorts and Teva sandals got wet. Threw them in the dryer and went upstairs. It was not until retiring for the evening that it was obvious that my iPhone was gone.

That resulted in panic and a search of the area where I landed. No phone! Using the locator on my Apple watch and then Find My iPhone both drew blanks. Apparently phones do not work underwater! More searching led to questions. Could the phone have been lost covering the boat? Or while fishing? No signal seemed to indicate the phone was in the water and a sleepless night was spent figuring out how to quickly get a replacement phone, as this one was obviously lost or ruined. Sun-up led to more searching and the purchase of a diver’s mask. Still no sign of the phone. My daughter Jen rose enormously to the occasion. She donned the mask and searched in a widening circle around the dock area. An hour led to disappointment, and then, right where I fell off the wall, she found the phone! Silt from our stomping around in the dark and the angle it landed at must have made it invisible to us previously, as it was right up against the wall.

Now comes the real miracle. As she lifted the iPhone (a new XR Jen had given me for Father’s Day), it immediately began beeping as it downloaded calls and texts missed while submerged! We were both concerned it would fry but it was quickly obvious that the phone was working fine. Now it is time to thank my other daughter, Jilly, for her Father’s Day gift. It has been my practice since owning my first iPhone to keep them in a case from Otter Box and she gave me the one for the XR. They protect from impact damage and mine is always clipped to my belt. The Defender case does a phenomenal job. After a full 12 hours submerged, there was not one drop of water inside the case and the phone was as good as new. What a product! If you are a klutz like me, or just want the best possible protection for your smartphone, I strongly recommend you check out Otter Box. It is a phenomenal case and well worth the money!

Visit John Flis Market

When yours truly saw the sign for John Flis Market on the store in Erving Center, it immediately brought back memories. As a teenager, Saturdays in October and November meant pheasant hunting at Birch Hill Management Area in Templeton and John Flis Market was a regular stop. It was the classic New England “corner store” with food, groceries and a little of everything, including hospitality. Most days, it was the mid-morning destination to grab a soda and a sandwich, with a Snickers bar if I pressed the matter, and the memories of that special place are still in my mind. It also was close to very good woodcock cover that produced great shooting when flights were in.

A recent Recorder article very well chronicled the effort by third generation family member Jon Flis and his fiancé, Liz Donald, to recreate the very special place John Flis Market was for so long. Jon’s great grandfather started the market in 1915 and his father and uncle worked there. After reading the article, I had to stop in and was very impressed after talking to Jon. He has a strong culinary background, but his long-term and short-term plans show he is clearly focused on the goal of making John Flis Market the hub of the community in Erving as it had been in Baldwinsville. Each step of the journey is well-planned and the “grab ’n’ go” lunches and Friday night takeout dinners are a huge success.

You need to stop in the next time you are headed out Route 2. A very special place is taking shape. Jon showed me the original sign that was in front of the market, and it brought me back to a special time in my life. I think you will find your stop there rewarding as well!

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, Counselor and Director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, has been a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor for over 40 years and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at

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