One of the great joys I get from writing about the outdoors is hearing from folks. My favorite this year was a letter, a real handwritten letter using pen and paper and sent through the U.S. mail in an envelope with a stamp on it! It was from a lady I did not know, nor had I ever met. It was from Mrs. Laverne H. DeCelle, who lives on the Marion Highway.
She was shocked to see a writeup from this website reprinted in the Bernice Banner. It was about my Grandpa George’s tackle box (an old Half n’ Half tobacco tin) and a story about fishing in the early days with him and Grandma Romoline Kinnison. Ms. Laverne knew them back in the day, as well as my parents and most of the people I knew from Kelly, Grayson and the surrounding small communities down in Caldwell where my family is originally from. She was so glad to find someone who knew the folks she used to know!
And how about this: Today is her birthday. She was born on Dec. 20, 1923. You do the math. And by the way, she still prints better than I do and could easily take over this website with her detailed stories. Yes, she tells fine fish stories. No kidding. Here’s an early Christmas present for you: Two of the stories she took time to write down and send to me. They are too good not to share. Merry Christmas…
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Kinny, with great interest, I read your article about catching bass with honey bun crumbs. In my story, instead of crumbs, I ran out of bait and saw a vine with a green gourd, broke it and tore out its pulp and baited my hook. Quickly, I caught a catfish I could barely hold in my childhood hands, skinned it, cooked it and ate it at my aunt’s house not far out of Grayson. I was about eight years old or so. It was a very big surprise as I’ve heard green gourds are very bitter. That fish must’ve been very hungry.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Another visit to that same aunt’s house a little later, her husband sang bass in a quartet and did gigs on Saturday nights after practicing. Neighbors there came to hear them practice, so their house was crowded. When practice ceased on evening, my uncle Joe Lively suggested that their three kids and me and my two brothers go get enough fish to feed all those people while my aunt and mom made a dishpan full of potato salad.
He had dammed up the lower end of a flowing stream in a shallow body of water about 200 hundred yards from their house. He gave each of us kids a burlap bag to place live fish in. He then waved and shook branches of an old black walnut tree loaded with green walnuts that fell into the water. Within just a short while, fish started coming up everywhere. The greenness of the nuts caused the fish to float to the top of the water, I suppose to get oxygen due to all the green nuts in the shallow water. Us kids waded to them and collected enough to dress, fry and feed a house full of visitors before gig time. I would imagine that no law existed in the 1950’s to cover that, but nowadays, if any lawman heard of such, there probably would be a law against it.”
Now if that doesn’t brighten your day, then you need to check your light bulb.
And unlike some of my fish stories, I have positive verification from Ms. Laverne that her stories are true. I’ll close again with her own words: “My fishing stories are all true. I became a Christian at age 8 so you can trust my truthfulness.”
What else can I say, except, HAPPY BIRTHDAY and MANY MORE!