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In A Long Way from Chicago, Joey and Mary Alice visit their grandma every summer holiday. Grandma Dowdel is not your traditional grandmother, or female stereotype, but has quite a few quirks and is not scared of anyone. Joey, or Joe, describes her as " so big, and the town was so small. She was old too, or so we thought—old as the hills. And tough," and he sees something different in his grandma each progressive year as he comes to understand what motivates her.
Grandma takes Joey and Mary Alice on a fishing trip - first maneuvering their way around the "No Trespassing" sign, stealing Sheriff Dickerson's boat and then revealing a fish trap (which doesn't actually belong to her) which she drags from the water. Joey can't believe it and questions whether it is legal. Without any qualms, Grandma tells him that "If it was...we wouldn't have to be so quiet."
It is therefore an illegal activity and Joey's father, especially being a fisherman and a member of the Conservation Club in Chicago, would definitely not approve of Grandma's activities. Joey and Mary Alice swear never to tell their father. Grandma is not at all concerned when they pass a group of men drinking on the bank - including the sheriff. Grandma, the "one-woman crime-wave," as Sheriff Dickerson calls her, remains unfazed.
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