Whitesburg KY

Catching a mess of fish without a pole

I left home as soon as I reached the age of 16 and struck out on my own like the prodigal son we read about in the Bible. I didn’t have a clue as to where I was going. All I wanted was to get away from my stepmother.

I left with only what I was wearing and I stayed wherever I could get to stay. I found some real nice people along the way who are still just as precious to me today.

At one time I slept on the loading dock of the Blackey train depot. I slept on the bare floor and used an old overcoat which someone had given me for cover. It got awful chilly sometimes, but while my teeth were chattering I became ever more determined to survive.

There was a fellow I knew that kept trying to get me to go night fishing with him. Finally I relented and agreed to go with him. His dad dropped us off at the place we were going to fish. He said he would pick us up in 30 minutes. I wondered just how we were supposed to catch a mess of fish in only 30 minutes since I hadn’t even seen anything to fish with, no poles, no nothing.

I figured that perhaps he had hidden some bait and poles somewhere around the fishing spot till he was ready to fish, or maybe he had set a trot line or basket and just needed a little bit of help. But to catch a mess of fish in only 30 minutes was unbelievable, no matter what we were supposed to fish with. I always felt right proud of myself if I had a good mess of fish after fishing all day.

Anyway, we got down to the water and lo and behold, he pulled two lengths of dynamite out of his pockets. Each piece had a short fuse sticking out of one end with tape around it. He took some wire and tied a rock to each piece. He gave me one to hold while he lit the other, but he lit the one I was holding first.

When it was lit, I just stood there holding it. He said, “You better hurry and get rid of it.”

He sure didn’t need to tell me to hurry but once. I threw it out as far as I could as he was lighting the other one. Just as he threw the second one, the first one went off.

Lord, what a noise. It sounded as if the whole world blew up. In the darkness I had thrown it right on top of a big rock barely under the water, and now we were wet from head to toe. When the second one went off, it just made a rumbling noise. We took our gunny sacks and went to the lower end of the fishing hole and picked up the fish as they floated down to us.

Our ride was waiting for us by the time we got back up to the road. As soon as we got into the car, he took off before we even got the door shut, then he left us have it with both barrels.

“You blankety-blank idiots are going to get us all locked up. What did you do, throw it down on the riverbank and run?” He cussed us all the way home, too. I don’t remember what all he said, but I am sure it’s not in Webster’s big book.

That was my first and only time to go fishing with dynamite. I had already been introduced to Mr. Bill Long, the game warden, and spent four days in the soup bean hotel with Mr. Bob Collins, the jailer. I didn’t mind staying with him since I didn’t have anywhere else to stay, but I didn’t want it to become habit forming, either.

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