From the Original Photo Album of my Grandfather: John Andrew Lahey Some Catches from the good old Mississippi River at Richard’s Castle, Snow Road Vacation in the 1940’s
While on our Summer holidays fishing was a big part of the men’s activities. Fish was also a source of food and we felt a real treat, many a meal was served, and everyone enjoyed it. Cleaning of the catch was so important as no one wanted a scale left on to be crunched on while eating.
I do remember worrying about my family out in the boat as Dad didn’t swim, I never saw Grandpa swimming, now my Uncles did. These trips would take place before breakfast when other people were not yet out of bed, or sometimes after supper in the evening. Pictures of the catch were taken with everyone beaming. Now this was when the fish were plentiful and also great for eating. No pollution in the waters then. Now writing this down I do have to admit the taste buds are waiting to be treated.
Off in the morning they would go on their merry way, getting ready was a big thing and the noise level could sometimes be high, what ever happened to respect for other people still sleeping. It always amazed me that the fishing tackle and rods were not left in place for their morning fish. These were men on a mission, no motor for the boats you would row to your destination. On the way back, they were rowing against the current which made it a bit more challenging . On most occasions they would fish the mighty Mississippi River for a couple of hours, and then come back to the stone house. I was never sure whether they had had enough fishing or were hungry for breakfast. I do think the tummy had something to do with it though.
Now when Mom and Grandma knew they had caught a feed of fish, dinner menu was planned. I can remember the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and a mixed up egg to dip the fish in before pan frying. I also remember the old Findlay Cast Iron Frying Pan for frying the fish, in those days one never thought about calorie count. As a child this was heavy beast to lift. Cleaning of the Fry Pan was a ritual that only a few knew how to do it properly.
Now it was hoped that there were still Lemons available to be squeezed on the fish. I do know that Mom would buy a few at the Fruit Store and wrap them carefully for our stay at Snow Road as she knew there would be a few fish caught. They would also make up their own recipe for what is now called Tartar Sauce. Oh it was just so good and MIND THE BONES, you don’t want to choke, was always voiced to the young ones.
On one particular day my Uncle was cleaning the catch down on the edge of water. Grandpa always seemed to managed to be the expert on how this should be done. Uncle was well engrossed in his chore and doing a great job, when under his feet something moved. It turned out to be a rather large snapping turtle who had been sunning himself close to shore and checking out his source of food. This was rather distressing as everyone knew that the Turtle could do some damage if he wanted to. There was lots of advice given to him from others around, on how this situation should be rectified . After some discussion my Uncle was cautious and removed himself off the turtle’s back. I am sure he would have been safe as he was dropping the discarded parts of the fish into the water, and the turtle was having a real treat which was being prepared in bite size pieces just for him. Come to think of it not many ever volunteered to do the cleaning of fish.
From then on when the fish were being cleaned, the shore line was checked out for turtles, who might just be lurking around waiting for their tid bit treat.
Man those fresh Pickerels were great and they are still a treat! Come to think of it, it has been years since I sat down of a meal of good pickerel. Not so sure they are as plentiful today in the good old Mississippi River, in the 1940’s, dream on Noreen.
From the pen of Noreen Tyers