My brother’s wife and I are country gals from "way
back when," and have lived in the same community all of our
lives. Ella Mae and I were not quite the same ages but we saw
each other at church, school pie suppers, dances and farm sales.
We farm kids often played alone with the things we had: rocks,
trees, sand, water, and dirt. There wasn’t much money for
"store-bought" toys so we improvised stick horses,
drums, slingshots and fishing poles. It was a long way from farm
to farm so our playmates were puppies, kittens, baby chickens,
and harmless toads.
Now in our eighties, we’re still those carefree,
fun-loving country kids at heart. We love the woods, fishing and
auctions. We each have a small fishing lake in our yards and
poles rigged up to use on short notice when time permits.
Fish swim out to meet her when she approaches with a cricket
or a "hopper" in October! I choose worms if time is
limited and popping bugs on evenings when there’s no hurry.
During World War II, her husband was in the thick of the
fighting in Europe and mine was training in New York, or in
Newfoundland building a Loran station with the Coast Guard. We
spent a lot of time together in the ’40s when the fellows
were away. Her toddler, Bette Sue, stayed with her beloved
"Gram" while we went to ponds and creeks to fish and
We often fished in a big pond on the dairy farm, and when the
fish weren’t biting we’d engage the bullfrogs in
battle. One hot, sultry afternoon the frogs were up in the shade
of the tall grass and weeds and the fish weren’t biting. We
decided to chase the frogs out of the shade and into the water.
We took turns, one maneuvering the canoe and the other
slapping the weeds with a paddle. Ella Mae was keeping the canoe
pointed into the weeds and I was just barely able to reach far
enough to slap the weeds where the frogs were sitting. I slapped
and nothing happened. I stretched farther out over the bow and
slapped again. We kept this up around the deep part of the pond.
Wham! A really big frog leaped right into the canoe with us! I
almost upset the canoe, trying to grab that frog in my hands but
it finally hid in the narrow, dark bow, far up under the pointed
front part, out of sight. I got belly-down and finally saw him
well enough to reach in and get him with my bare hands. That was
the biggest frog we got all summer. He measured 16 inches long!
On another occasion Ella Mae was fishing on one side of the
water hole called Flat Rock and I was sitting on a rock ledge
across the creek. We didn’t talk much lest we scare the
fish, but she began gestures and whispers that I finally
interpreted to mean that there was a big bullfrog sitting under
the rock, just behind my feet. Of course I couldn’t see him,
but I got down flat, and she motioned for me to move this way and
that. I moved as she directed and when I finally had my hand
directly above the frog, she whispered "That’s it, grab
I did three things simultaneously: I grabbed, screamed and
sent that big frog sailing about 15 feet in the air! He dropped
into the water hole. Born free and free again.