It's cold this morning. It was cold and windy yesterday also, but I saw a guy in a big old bass boat in Huntington, guess he had been to the lake and gone bass fishing. Big bass, they bite in the cold late winter months, best chance to catch a real monster. The lowely bream, he's like me, he stays deep and warm and no body thinks about fishing for him till about May.
Think about fishing while I study, no time to write long thoughts, just to long for simple times and fun a fishing so I am going to post a paper I wrote for an English class at Angelina College two years ago when I first started back to school, simpler times then for sure, I made an "A" on this little story and some of it is actually true.
I saw Howling Wolf eat fifty bream at a fish fry. It was the summer of 1963, and I was seven years old. This savage example of extreme dining took place in the small town of Luxora, Arkansas. It was the day after a fishing trip, and I was at my Aunt’s home, a big rambling wooden house located on a shady oak lined street about a half-mile from the chute where the bream were caught.
To prepare for the fish fry bream had to be caught. Bream, pronounced “brim,” is a member of the sunfish family. A northerner might call them a bluegill. In the south several species such as redears, shellcrackers and goggle eyes are often grouped under the name of bream. There is no limit on size or number caught so a successful stringer might include fish measuring from a few inches to ten inches long. This fact of no restriction was a godsend because so many of these little fish had to be caught, and since the men were at work it was the duty of me, my cousins and the other women to bring home the main course. We carried cane poles, bait, and sack lunches over the levee to the chute where we fished. A chute is a body of water connected to the main river. In East Texas a chute is called a slough. In Louisiana it’s called a bayou. I loved the fishing we did. The virtues of patience, stealth, knowledge of the best places to drop a line and the light touch needed to set the hook in the small mouths were skills I polished that hot summer. Patience was especially important because many bream were needed to satisfy the guests at my Aunt’s fish fry. Luckily the bream were eager, and by evening several burlap sacks full were dragged back over the levee, the contents to be headed, gutted and scaled.
The next day was Saturday and people began gathering before lunch. Tables were set up, and domino games were commenced in the shade under the twisted river oaks in the front yard. In the backyard the horseshoe pit saw steady action. Inside the kitchen was where the women cooked greens and beans, hot water corn bread, and fried the bream whole in big iron skillets.
The kitchen was my favorite place to be. I liked to get the first samples of food as they were piled on big platters for the folks gathered in the yard. As I waited for my next bite I became aware that a shadow had darkened the door of the hot kitchen. A giant man stood there on skinny legs supporting a massive trunk of a body topped by a bull neck. He had a prominent head with a jutting jaw line. Howling Wolf entered and the cooks began to make a place at the metal legged kitchen table.
I watched as he sat in the straw-bottomed wooden chair like an ancient king. A plate was placed in front of him, and he began to serve himself from the platters on the table. Open-mouthed I watched as he made short work of stripping the flesh from the larger fish, tossing their bones aside. I witnessed him crunching the smaller fish bones and all. I dodged as he slung my Aunt’s homemade pepper sauce over his beans and greens. I instinctively checked my own trousers as he brushed the cornbread crumbs from his overalls. I held my ears against the smacking, crunching and slurping that seemed deafening in the small stifling kitchen. Bream after bream disappeared. When I sensed the end was near and I moved a step closer to the action.
Howling Wolf pushed his chair back, thrust out his chin, and in a voice made coarse by the swallowing of a thousand tiny bones said, “What you lookin’ at boy?”
“Fifty bream,” I blurted.