Crawdads, the Midwest Version of Lobster

When I was growing up in 1948 Nebraska, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning was to go "crawdadding" with my dad, two brothers, Bob and Junior and Dad's friends.

Hmmm, you don't know what "crawdads" are....well, lets see, in the south they are called crawfish, the eastern United States folks call them crayfish and some parts of this great nation refer to them as mudbugs or yabbies. But in the central and western areas, they are just plain ole crawdads….miniature lobsters.

I loved to go with them. We’d hop into Dad’s old Model T Ford and the guys would discuss where the best spots would be. Dad had his favorite places, depending on how much rain we’d had. Since he was the driver, we’d usually go there.

Crawdaddin’ wasn’t involved, took absolutely no talent and was a great way for us kids to get wet and muddy without being yelled at for doing it. Mom would scold Dad for letting me come home covered with mud and smelly pond water but all she’d say to me was “don’t come into the house with those muddy clothes on”.

I can still remember the feel of the squishy mud between my toes and the prickly thrill that maybe we’d get our toes pinched by a wandering crawdad or some fish would "get" us. Occasionally a small water snake would be sunning itself on the shore and would slither into the pond… took a whole lot of persuading to get me back into the water after seeing one.

Once we arrived at the right pond, Dad would hang a piece of beef liver on a string tied to a piece of wood....then he'd toss it out into a pond or slough (a muddy body of water). They'd throw out 10 or more floating tidbits and wait for a few minutes for the smell to attract the crawdads. They hung out fairly close to shore, under debris hiding from fish, raccoons and other creatures that lived in the area. They were the favorite food of whatever fish happened to live in the pond and had learned the art of self-preservation.

The crawdads would swim up and grab the liver with their big claws. We (the kids) would wade out, pick up the wood and slip a homemade net under the crawdads and occasionally would find some 5 or 6 inchers....we'd really get excited if we happened to get those big ones! Then we would come back to shore and dump the net into a gunny sack.

Once we got enough, a whole sack full, we'd head for home and empty the sack into our old claw bathtub filled with salty water. (on Saturday nights, I also was dumped into that tub…after Mom had scrubbed it out)

I was between 8-10 years old and loved to play with the crawdads before they turned into snacks!  

I’d look for the biggest ones and tease them to get them to open their claws. Had my fingers pinched many, many times. 

Once they were cleaned out by the salty water and rinsed, Mom would cook batches of them in her big soup pot….she’d add spices and whatever else was necessary to give them a spicy flavor. They turned bright red and the smell wafted through the open windows and sooner or later the whole neighborhood would smell the spicy crawdads cooking, bring their beer and we'd have a party! (the kids didn't get beer...don't remember what we had - probably kool-aid since it was cheap and easy to make.

Thanks for letting me share my memories…..

Four Year Old's Rules of Engagement

Andrew is our youngest grandson who goes to daycare/pre-school which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because he is learning to play with children his own age and not rely on Grandma and Grandpa to cater to his every wish. But, it’s turned into a bad thing because he has been exposed to and caught every germ the daycare has floating around. Everyone says “well, he has to build an immunity to those childhood illnesses” me, that's not a particularly welcome comment to grandparents.

First colds, sore throats, sinus infections and resulting in surgery to place tubes in his ears to relieve fluid which has accumulated behind his ear drums. Do his grandparents feel guilty that he was in the dreaded daycare and not safe at home with us…..yes we do.

This morning I read an article by Sarah Warren a contributor to in Omaha, NE. She writes about a four letter word that Andrew has learned (from where?) and used regularly. Now he isn't as prone to this particular word since his older sister, Rebecca has taught him the "ways of life" and that its no longer funny.  BUT how embarrassing when he was with a group of mothers with their sweet children. But, Sarah reminds us that children have their own “Rules of Engagement”.
And, this was one of Andrew's favorites!

1. If I like it, it’s MINE
2. If it’s in my hand, it’s MINE
3. If I can take it from you, it’s MINE
4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s MINE
5. If it’s mine it must NEVER appear to be yours in any way
6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are MINE
7. If it looks just like mine, it’s MINE
8. If I saw it first it’s MINE
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes MINE
10. If it’s broken, it’s YOURS

Sound familiar?

Hunting for Jack Rabbits in the 1930's

This photo is from a long time ago, probably in the late 1930s - back when I was a kid and my dad (the guy in the middle, my uncle John Bluvas on one side and friend Harry Hotovec on the other) and his buddies were dedicated jackrabbit hunters in rural Nebraska. In the 1930's hunting was a necessity, the depression was over but money was scarce. Rabbits, pheasants and ducks were plentiful and free.

Gas was something like $.25 or less a gallon and our old Model T Ford didn't use very much....great gas mileage. Dad would get his little group together and they'd leave early in the morning for their favorite hunting spot about 10 miles away. They'd hunt for whatever came across their path....and was in season. Dad was a stickler for obeying the pheasants or ducks out of season. However, rabbits were another story....they were fair game all the time.

Jackrabbits are distant cousins of those "cute" little rabbits that hop around the yard, eating your plants and veggies...their tame cousins would show up at Easter time dyed pink, yellow or blue. Jackrabbits are the big mamas....and we ate a lot of them. Usually fried or in rabbit stew.

I believe they would be on the gourmet food menu now.