Uncle Crit and Aunt Lou settled in Stone County Arkansas. They lived in Herpel, close to Mountain View. Herpel is about as far in the sticks you can get before White River.
We would visit on weekends, now and then. Aunt Lou died before I can remember and Uncle Crit lived with his children on their farm place. We always had fun at Uncle Crit's, there were thousands of things to do. There was Blue Hole to swim in, you could hunt for arrowheads and sometimes, when the mood hit them, you got to go grappling.
"Grabbling" has also been called noodling and tickling. I am not talking dirty here...this is a bonafide way to catch fish!
Pete and Ray said I have a hankerin' for some fresh fish. Let's go grappling. I agree because anything to do with these gentlemen was loads of fun.
We gathered a stringer and everyone is grinning. (There is a difference between a smile and a grin. Smiling is when your happy. Grinning is when you are happy to be up to something) I had no idea what was in store for me!
We hit the creek looking for some good fishing spots. I am still confused that we have no fishing poles and only a string. We arrive at some spot that looked good to the men. Yep, pulled an fifteen pounder outta here last spring, spot looks good for bedding, now block the hole girl...uh, WHAT?
Dad and Uncle Crit were quiet as Ray and Pete told me my job. They explained, when they found a good spot, I would lay down in the water, block all escape routes with my body, arms and legs and Ray or Pete would reach in and get a fish. Simple, right?
To hear Pete and Ray tell it, it was a cake walk. As I was curling my body around a submersed rock, blocking holes with every body part I had, while holding onto the rock because the current was strong. I hear quiet Pete speak up, Now, girl, you may feel a little bump now and then but don't let 'em through. We're having fish for supper. I looked, they are all grinning now. I am trying to think, is there snipe fishing too?
Ray says, that's good girl and hold it, hold it as he reached to his shoulder under the rock and feels around. He pulls out a catfish! My Dad or Uncle Crit put in on the stringer. Ray reaches in again and pulls out a bass by the gills. Add that to the stringer.
We're getting a pretty good string of fish and I am having fun. So far, so good. I came to swim and this was better, but I still can't figure out the grinning...grinning runs in both sides of my family.
Dad and Uncle Crit are staying in the shallow water. I now have to carry the stringer. I am not very old but I drag those fish through the water like I had done it all my life.
Approaching another deep hole, Pete says, oughta be some big uns in there. Block it, girl. So I curl and fill all holes and hang onto the rock and the stringer. Jackpot! Pete and Ray are pulling those fish out. The fish are bumping into my belly like cows trying to get to the feed bucket. This is a little spooky. I can't see what's bumping my body and have only Ray or Pete to assure me all is well...and they are still grinning.
Ray pulled out a cotton mouth snake, holds it up and says, ah, hell, we can't eat that and slings it over my head into the water behind me. Yes, he is still grinning!
At this point, the block was gone, all arms, legs, feet, torso and any other part of my body were on dry land. Not that I am afraid of snakes but I knew cotton mouths were poison. I look and everyone is grinning bigger. So this was the plan all the time!
We walked back down the creek with me dragging a stringer full of fresh fish, getting heavier by the moment. I over hear bits of conversation, because the men are on high ground and I was in the water keeping the fish fresh. I heard, shoulda seen her eyes, with a round of laughter. Never seen anybody leave the water so fast, hee-hee. Should put a saddle on that girl and win a race.
I learned one very important lesson that day. If Pete and Ray ask me to go hunting, I ain't going!