In the summer time my dad and his buddy Bill Lemon liked to go frog gigging. My dad would purchase these “devil pitchfork” things and attach them to long poles. You would hold these poles like spears and reach out and stab the frog. You had to keep holding the pole so you could pull the frog into the boat.
He would wear a head light attached to an elastic band with wires that went down to a battery. This way you could see what you was gigging. Also the little beast would be tranquilized looking into the light until it met its end and ultimately ended up in a burlap sack sitting in a jon boat.
I remember this gigging experience because one night my dad took me and mom with him. We were on the Saline River down by Rison where JW, my granddaddy lived. My dad carried his 22 pistol cross arm style just in case a snake got in the boat. All in all it was a little bit spooky being on the river at night. It was also one hell of an adventure!
My dad and Bill had decided that we were going to have a “frog leg” party. Their plan was to gig a mess of frogs and then we would dip in a little fish fry mix and fry ’em up. Serve with some butter and beer, for the adults and coke for the kids. I remember it was some good eatin’. After moving to Indiana and working in Whiting I discovered that frog legs was some fancy restaurant food up at Phil Schmidt’s, the butter bowl as I called it.
To prepare for this party my dad and Bill had to gig enough frogs to fill several burlap sacks or tow sacks as we called them. This required several weekends of frog giggin’ and probably a few draws on the Old Crow or Old Taylor whiskey bottle.
These trips took place in a jon boat on Fourche Creek which ran just down from our house and by a park. In fact it ran from University Avenue (once known as Hayes Street before my time) through this area where a guy had a ranch with an airport. I remember it twisted and turned through an area that was not in the city limits. The road twisted and turned crossing the creek several times. It was a route from Asher Avenue and Woody’s Liquor Store toward Geyer Springs where we lived.
On one trip that summer that I recall Dad and Bill took EG Murphy from across the street, he was a fireman. They floated down near Benny Craig park and decided to get off the creek and set out for home. They were walking along the railroad track carrying the aluminum jon boat. They got tired and sat it down. All of sudden the railroad gates nearby starting flashing and dinging and going down. They quickly grabbed the boat and got of the tracks. No train came so they started walking down the tracks again. When they got tired they sat the boat on the tracks and the gates and lights went off. Once again they quickly got off the tracks, but no train came. Low and behold the sensor for them railroad gates were magnetic and when they sat that jon boat on the tracks the gates went down.
When they got home they had a full tow sack full of frogs and a story to tell. We laughed about that story while we was fryin’ the frog legs and chowing down.