Playing in front yard.

The pond was always muddy because cattle stirred the water to keep cool.  Nobody cared that it was overpopulated with less-desirable fish species.  Willow trees leaned out over the dam and spillway.

Angling was a new experience for three brothers.  Fishing gear was simple–willow pole, cotton line, bobber, and hooks. Bait was plentiful–grasshoppers, earthworms, crickets.  Securing bait took a modicum of effort.  It was fun for a time, until reality set in.

Fish could be lousy, unrepentant bait thieves.  There were days when fish were lazy and wouldn’t bite.  It was back and forth to the house–the screen door slammed constantly.

“Mom, the fish just won’t bite.  I’ll bet I could put a dollar bill on a hook and they still wouldn’t bite.”  Not that fish had any interest in paper money.

“Maybe they’re just not hungry?”  Mom suggested.  She was probably right, but us three brothers were persistent.

“Why don’t you try chicken guts?”  Mom said, out of the blue.  It took a while to sink in.

“Chicken guts?  That’s disgusting.”  “You want to catch fish–don’t you?”  Came the reply.

We raised chickens for eggs and to eat, so there were leftover chicken guts aplenty.

Mom’s brothers were sportsmen–knew about fishing and hunting.

Fishing resumed with a bucket of smelly chicken guts, accompanied by Tags, the dog, and a few hunting cats.  Every kid needed a hunting cat or two or three.  We had plenty to spare.

Hunting cats descended from barn cats–to father’s chagrin.  Tamed by us kids, they no longer caught barn rats and mice.

My orange tabby tomcat came along–stayed in the shade.  Chicken guts were baited on hooks to the tune of disgusted “ewwws” and “yucks.”  They proved enticing to snapping turtles and catfish.

Disaster struck.  My tomcat seized a piece of chicken gut on a baited hook. He yowled, clawed at his mouth.  The hook was stuck fast to the roof of his mouth.  He fought rescuers tooth and claw.

Dad came to tomcat’s rescue with pliers.  The hook was removed, after first inserting the business end of hapless cat in an old boot.  The rest of us held the boot tight–that way doctoring could be done without arms being clawed to shreds.

Tomcat wasn’t the least bit grateful–ran back to the house.  The cat may have lost one or two of his nine lives in the process.  He spent the remainder of his life (lives) doing things that hunting cats did.

Editor’s Note:  I’m in the middle of the picture holding a cat (not the cat in my story).  My older brother isn’t pictured.  Tags, the dog is in the picture.



Bubblegum was a childhood delight.  It had to be Fleer’s “Dubble Bubble” bubblegum.  Other brands were almost as good–“Bazooka” and gum with baseball cards.  Baseball card gum was thin and flat–somewhat brittle.

Inside the wrapper was a folded up cartoon strip “Fleer’s Funnies” featuring a young chap “Pud” and friends.  There’s a moniker you won’t hear in the twenty-first century.  The stories were lame–meant to sell more bubblegum.  A quarter or fifty cents bought a sack full of candy in those days–which was a typical weekly allowance.

Experts could easily blow bubbles as big as their heads.  This was imitated by little brothers and sisters, who eventually got gum all over their faces.  Double Bubble tasted so good, that one piece wasn’t enough.  About four pieces made a fist-sized wad–enough to make jaw muscles ache.

Mothers and dads hated bubble gum.  It got disposed of in unhandy places and ended up on the bottom of dress shoes on the way to church or school.

“Don’t swallow that gum.  Where is it?”  “It’s too late–I already swallowed it,” was the usual answer.  “Don’t do that.  You’ll clog up your insides and I’ll have to take you to the doctor,” Mom warned.  I don’t know if it ever happened to anybody.

“Take your bubble gum out of your mouth before going to bed,”  Mom advised.  The next morning there were globs of gum stuck in my hair.  Mom got the dullest pair of scissors she could find; cut and pulled the gum out.

The worst part was at school.  “What happened to your hair?  Eww–do you have ringworm?”  “Who cut your hair?  …The Three Blind Mice?”  All was soon forgotten and it was off to new adventures.


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