Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Entertaining Ourselves on the Farm

Note from Ernie's daughter, Becky Jamison: In 2007 Harold J. Rutherford published his book "Dust, Wind and Tears: Life on the Great Plains in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's". It's a collection of personal accounts from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Ernie contributed his story to the book. It was published by Ten Mile Publishing, 9740 Peacock St., Federal Heights, CO 80260-5749. This post is an excerpt from Ernie's story.

We didn't have electricity or radios at our house. Television didn't exist then. We had to entertain ourselves by pitching horseshoes, horseback riding, playing marbles, playing hide and seek, and flying kites when I was small. In the summertime baseball was quite an entertainment, not only for the players, but also for everyone who had gathered to watch the games. Most of the time games were played on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.

My dad and his brother loved to "noodle" for fish. They would wear shoes and bib overalls to swim and go under the water along the banks of these streams. In many places the streams had eroded away some of the bank and some tree roots extended out into the water. Sometimes the holes would go back into the bank among the tree roots and some large fish would go into the holes head first. The fellas quietly slipped up along those banks and, with their hands and arms, reached in to see if they could feel a fish. They tried to grab for the mouth and gills and pull them out. They were quite successful doing this, and would often come up with some huge flatheads (like a big catfish) or even channel catfish. 

I was along one Sunday afternoon when they were all noodling on the Smoky Hill Rover. My Uncle Emil Koleber reached into one of those holes beneath the riverbank, and a snapping turtle grabbed and bit into one of his fingers. Snapping turtles have a reputation of being able to bite hard. Uncle Emil came right out of the water and they had to cut the turtle's head off to free his finger. The first joint of Uncle Emil's finger was disfigured for the rest of his life. 

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