Mike Wilson: Lick Creek Days — my social calendar

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2021

What was a typical summer day like with my grandparents at Lick Creek back in the mid-’60s? Not so difficult to remember, really:

0600: Awaken to the smell of bacon, sausage, tenderloin, or country ham with eggs and biscuits with fig preserves. Cereal is not tolerated by my granddaddy, and even toast is highly suspect!

0630: Head down to Crappie Hollow to run the trotlines. Save the occasional soft-shelled turtle for Big Daddy, my grandmother’s Danish father, who loved turtles and eels for supper even more than the Pecan Sandies he and my great-grandmother always stocked.

0800: Fish for bass along the bank after setting out some jugs. Shoot at gars cruising the surface in the shallow water with a .22. Wash sardines and crackers down with 6 ounce Cokes.

1000: Round up the jugs and head back to Lick Creek before it gets too hot with a good mess of catfish and an occasional bass. Stop a few minutes to try the bream with a fly rod at the rock wall on the way in. Clean them at the cleaning table in front of the boathouse.

1100: Pick blackberries down the road with my grandmother and sisters. Try not to eat half of them in the process.

1230: Sit down to dinner of fried catfish, French fries, hush puppies, and a token serving of some vegetable with sweet tea. Granddaddy likes his a day old and a little cloudy, so there are always two pitchers in play. Blackberry cobbler is pulled from the oven just as we finish and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, never ice milk, which Grandmommy has declared unfit to eat. (I can’t even imagine what she would think of non-fat frozen yogurt!)

1330: Sit in the cool living room to listen to the Cardinals on the old wooden-cased Philco radio. By about the third inning, Granddaddy leans back and begins to snore. Go out quietly to explore. Poke a large dead carp down on the bank with a stick. See a big snake sitting on a flat rock. Get a casting rod to throw a gob of bream guts on a treble hook onto the rock over and over until it finally strikes. Drop the rod and run back to get a hatchet. Return to find the snake has gone into a hole in the bank. With great effort, pull the hooked snake out of the hole until I can chop his head off. Save the head along with tarantulas and scorpions from Boy Scout camp in Arkansas in a pickle jar full of rubbing alcohol (until it is eventually discovered in my room in an advanced state of decomposition by my poor mother after I have gone to college).

1600: Grandmommy takes us swimming down the road a bit where a neighbor has built a little floating platform with tires along the sides. Find a big mussel in the muddy bottom and take it back to the cabin to open with a screwdriver and see what it’s like inside. Hear with sadness that it is not edible.

1800: Supper. Onion burgers, fried chicken, or spaghetti if we are lucky.

1900: Watch The Andy Griffith Show. Antenna reception from Nashville is a bit spotty, but we don’t mind. Grandmommy sits with a paring knife and a bowl of huge Golden Delicious apples and gives the sisters slices while I am awarded the peelings, which she has managed to keep intact as two-foot ribbons that I lower joyfully into my mouth.

2100: On clear nights, go to bed. If I am lucky and there is no moon, go out catching shad minnows with Granddaddy by dragging a hoop net fast behind the boat in ever-narrowing concentric circles and then hauling it in quickly to find the fat, shiny minnows, which we will freeze in peanut-butter jars for our trotlines and jugs.

2230: Turn in. Granddaddy says—every night—“Good night, Brother Ben, shot a goose and killed a hen.”

0600: Repeat.

Mike Wilson is chairman of Modern Foreign Languages at Catawba College.

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