THE ADVENTURES OF BUBA & JUDE
- A Busy Parent’s Bedtime Story Book
Harold C. Lyon, Jr.
With story recall help from his sons, Eric Lyon (at age 11)
Gregg Lyon (then at age 10)
Table of Contents
Chapter 2 Turtle Catching (submitted)
Chapter 3 The Raccoon Hunt (submitted)
Chapter 4 Cat fishing under the River Bank (submitted)
Chapter 5 Trick or Treating on Halloween
Chapter 6 Throwing Rocks out of the Potato Patch
Chapter 7 Bouncing on the School Bus
Chapter 8 Catching a Bat
Chapter 9 Shooting Carp with a Bow and Arrow
Chapter 10 Building a Hut
Chapter 11 Catching Alligators
Chapter 12 Catching Robbers in the Cave
Chapter 13 Making a Trap for Wild Boar in the Potato Patch
Chapter 14 Bass Fishing
Chapter 15 Deer Watching
Chapter 16 Catching the Chicken Thief on New Year's Eve
Chapter 17 Riding Birch Trees
Chapter 18 Lost in the Cave
Chapter 19 Helping his Brother in a Fight
Chapter 20 Shooting Woodchucks
Chapter 21 The Skidoo and the Rattlesnake
Chapter 22 Grouse Hunting
Chapter 23 Frog Gigging
Chapter 24 Catching Crawfish
Chapter 25 Walking the Trap Line
Chapter 26 The Bear Rips Jude's Pants
Chapter 27 Robbers and Treasure in the Old House
Chapter 28 Rope Swing Across the River
Chapter 29 Buba and Jude Riding the Waves
Chapter 30 The Wolverine in the Trap
Chapter 31 Jude Helps Chase the Bully from the Girl
Chapter 32 Making Maple Syrup
Chapter 33 The Hermit in the Cave
Chapter 34 Making a Jitney
Chapter 35 Raccoon in the Garbage
Chapter 36 Jumping on a Pickerel
Chapter 37 Water Fun
Chapter 38 The Paper Route and Getting Bitten by a Dog
Chapter 39 Poison Ivy and a Bee Sting
>Chapter 40 Saving a Life at a Car Wreck
Chapter 41 Catching the Fox in the Chicken Coop
Chapter 42 Learning to Ski
Chapter 43 Ice Skating
Chapter 44 Climbing the Mountain
Chapter 45 Snake Catching
Introduction for Parents
Since my children's infancy, I made it a sacred habit to spend a few minutes each night, after tucking them into bed, weaving a spontaneous adventure story about two young brothers, who took on the names of Buba and Jude. These two boys, close in age to my boys, have lived, through these stories, over the years the actual adventures which I was blessed to have as a child, plus others that I invented. As a child, I was actively linked with nature through my avid interest in wildlife, fishing, and hunting. Also, as the son of a traveling, Army officer, I attended sixteen different schools around the world before ever beginning my higher education. The often difficult adjustment to new and changing environments made life an ever-challenging adventure rather than an oppressive experience. The adventures of Buba and Jude are largely stories of the delight of children to the exciting world of outdoor adventure, wildlife and other humans.
You'll find that the small but complex-world of Buba & Jude contains a few inconsistencies. Winter sports and fun in the snow take place in the same environment that alligators and other cold-blooded animals inhabit. This reflects my chaotic childhood, which took place in the North, South, East and Europe. The utility is that wherever you live, you'll be able to relate. Additionally you'll find the habits and descriptions of the wood-lore and wildlife to be technically accurate.
During bedtime stories, my children were always a captive audience. In their early 1940’s, they have total recall of stories I have long since forgotten telling them. I am amazed at the detail they remember! On occasions, when I was spontaneously creating a new story about Buba and Jude: “They headed across the potato patch and down the hill to the swamp, turning right toward the cave..." I was interrupted by Eric or Gregg saying, "No, Dad! You have to turn left, not right, to go to the cave!" Astonishingly they had created in their minds a detailed map of this imaginary world of Buba & Jude!
It occurred to me that as a teacher, if I could only achieve this bedtime story efficiency, I could optimize teaching efficiency rather than what we normally achieve in the classroom! It hit me that I was a teacher -- and every parent is a teacher -- when telling a bedtime story. What an ideal time to communicate the important concepts and values of life that too often slip by so many families in the "rat race" of modern society! It was then that I began, while being careful not to lose the integrity of the story, to "lard" values into the adventures of Buba and Jude that I wanted to teach my boys but had little time to instill in our hectic lives -- concepts such as courage, honesty, chivalry, "the golden rule", sharing, teamwork, and even sex education. The stories have many “handles” for you, the parent, to use to hang your own values in teachable pauses. We are all teachers most of our waking hours and bedtime story time is an incredibly fertile time to plant some seeds for the future. As I watched my boys grow, joyfully I began to see many of these seeds sprout and bloom.
My boys are now grown, one a marine just back from Iraq and the other a successful executive. But one summer when they were 10 and 11, we sat down together and captured on audio-tape over forty of the old stories which they remembered far better than I. In the 1970s, I transcribed them from tape to hard copy on an old typewriter. Using copies of that marked up old manuscript, my boys are reading the same stories to their children who now demand them as a steady bedtime ritual. Amidst the chaos of my own eclectic professional careers, my sons kept bugging me to publish the stories. When they told me how much their children loved the stories, I was encouraged, but not convinced. If the stories were worth publishing, containing enough rich real-life adventures, coupled with the concept of using this fertile time for parent-child teaching, they needed to pass another test.
I was privileged to be one of many who worked with the Children’s Television Workshop on the early production of “Sesame Street.” Every tentative show had to pass two tests before it was finalized. Each show segment had to out-compete intriguing toys we placed in inner-city day-care centers, holding the attention of the kids. And secondly, the shows had to teach the concepts, both cognitive (e.g. the letters A, B, and C, etc.) and affective (honesty, sharing, etc.) we had set for the show’s educational objectives. It worked in “Sesame Street” just as it did for me as a busy father. These Buba and Jude stories passed these tests with my sons and now with my grandson and granddaughters.
Though each chapter is a different story, meant to be read by you in the tranquility that should precede bedtime, they are consistent with respect to geographic detail and continuity. The map of the world of Buba and Jude which appears on the frontispiece will become imprinted in the minds of your children as they vicariously live, through your story-telling, the world of Buba and Jude. They will make their own mental map upon which to tie the adventures and concepts woven into the stories. But I leave to you parents, the job of "larding" your own concepts and values into the stories as you see fit. I have provided some concept handles to grab if you want to use them. If you don't, that's fine. The stories are sufficient without any elaboration. However, I have found it best to stop for a moment when the opportunity presents itself in one of the stories, to personalize a particular concept, such as honesty, for the children and to answer their questions before continuing. Though my natural reaction is to object strongly to this book's being called a textbook, in many ways it can be an individualized “text of life” for parent and child. Above all, remember that these stories were created for fun. I wish you and your children as many bed times of fun reading them, as I had telling them!
Once upon a time there were two brothers, Buba and Jude, who lived in a large old wooden farm house with a wood shed, a large barn, and a chicken coop. Buba was a year and a half older than Jude and was called Buba because when he was little Jude couldn't say “brother” correctly. The two boys had lots of adventures together. When you live on a farm there are always lots of interesting things to do and explore, like wild animal tracks leading into the chicken pen, and catching fish and turtles and things.
Buba and Jude's house is on a hill in front of a large potato patch which has a path through the middle of it. If you keep on the path it leads into the woods on the other side of the potato patch and down a steep hill to a swamp which has alligators, turtles, bass and other interesting wildlife and fish. Beyond the swamp is a small, clear river which also has fish in it. The river leads to a lake which has different kinds of fish. Off to one side of their house is a ridge -- higher than the hill the house is on. A deer trail leads along the top of the ridge. Wild animals, such as boar, deer, bear, rabbits, quail, pheasants, grouse, snakes and other smaller creatures like to go from the ridge down to the swamp, the river, or the lake because they are good places to find food and water. They are also good places for Buba and Jude because of the wildlife. If you follow the path across the potato patch and down the hill, and turn left, you find a cliff which farther on has a large cave in it. If you look at the front of this book, you will be able to see all these things on the map of the world of Buba and Jude.
Chapter 1 - Surprised by Buried Treasure
One day, when Buba and Jude didn't have much to do, they decided to bury some treasure. They began gathering some things that were valuable to them, such as a shiny rhinestone that looks like a diamond, a glass ruby that looks very expensive, and a little knife that Jude had found in the school playground. There is also a school paper of Buba's that was so good that his teacher had put a “star” on it, and some other valuable things like a comb, a key-chain, and a paperweight with a fly embedded in it. They threw in some other stuff like thumb tacks and paper clips.
They put these things in a plastic bag so that no water could get in and then nailed the bag up in a small box they had found out in the wood shed. After they nailed it up tight, they melted some candle wax on the seams to make it water-proof. They decided to make a treasure map and bury it. Maybe a few years later, they’d dig it up with the directions from the map. The place they decided to bury it was across the potato patch to the left. They drew a square on a piece of paper and wrote "Potato Patch" on the square and then drew a line across it to mark the trail that goes through the potato patch. There's a big tree at the end of that trail, so they drew a tree on the paper. They walked forty two paces to the east, (the direction the sun rises) or to the left of the big tree. They measured that off on the ground carefully and that came to another big pine tree. At that tree they turned right, or south, and walked fifteen more paces, where there was another big oak tree. They decided that they would dig the hole for the treasure under its lowest limb.
While they were starting to dig, Buba heard a noise off to the left. He noticed someone watching from the hill. Buba said to Jude, "Don’t look up! Someone's watching us from the top of the hill!” They both pretended not to see the person on the hill, and while Jude kept digging, Buba sneaked around through the trees to the left, and saw that it was the Snodgrass boys, who lived in the next farm down the road. They were trying to figure out what Buba and Jude were doing. Buba snuck back to Jude without letting the Snodgrass boys see him, and whispered to his brother, "It's the Snodgrass boys! They're watching us! They'll probably want to steal our treasure!"
Jude had an idea. He whispered back, "Let's fool ‘em. Let's make ‘em think our treasure is here, and when they come and dig it up, there won't be anything, because we'll put our treasure somewhere else!" Buba thought that was a good idea.
Just then they heard a noise. They looked around and saw a big hog-nosed snake under the tree. He looked pretty scary, but he was harmless. They both had the same idea! Buba picked up a stick with a fork in it and went over and pinned down the snake's head. The tail was wriggling and squirming but was not harmed. Buba grabbed the snake by the back of the neck so it couldn’t bite him while Jude held his withering tail. They opened the sealed box and stuffed the snake into it, hammered down the lid, being careful to leave some space so that the snake could breathe. The Snodgrass boys hadn't seen them catch the snake, so they thought that it must be treasure in the box.
Buba and Jude went back to digging the hole, just as if nothing had happened. They said (kinda loud so that the Snodgrass boys would hear them) “Boy, this valuable treasure will never be found by anyone.” They put the box into the hole, covered it loosely with dirt, and marked an “X” on their map where the treasure was. They covered it with pine needles and tried to brush off their footprints.
They went back to their house laughing about how surprised the Snodgrass boys would be when they opened the box and found a snake there instead of a treasure. They knew that the Snodgrass boys wouldn't have a chance to dig up the treasure that night, because it was late and as they were leaving, they heard Mrs. Snodgrass calling the boys for dinner.
At dinner that evening, Buba's and Jude's parents kept wondering why they were chuckling to each other.
The next day at school, Jude dropped the map to the treasure next to one of the Snodgrass boy’s desk. He pretended that it was an accident and didn't know it was missing, but he had really dropped it there on purpose. The teacher was writing on the blackboard and not looking when the older Snodgrass boy picked it up, looked at it, and quickly put it in his pocket.
That afternoon after school, when Buba and Jude rode home in the bus, they said "Good-bye” to the Snodgrass boys and got off the bus at their house. They ran inside, left their lunch boxes and books, and immediately headed out to the woods. They figured the Snodgrass boys would be out there soon. They each hid behind big trees not far from the buried treasure. They hadn't been there long before the Snodgrass boys came down the hill carrying a shovel. One had the map that Jude had dropped at school. He was looking at the map carefully, talking to his brother about how to get to the treasure. They both went right to the pine tree at the edge of the potato patch, and they measured out fifteen paces to the south until they came to the big oak tree. One of them said, "Look! Here's where they buried it! I can feel the ground is loose!! Let's dig it up! Quick!!!”
They started digging very fast until the shovel hit something hard. "Here it is! Here's the box! Oh boy, won't they be surprised that we've already found their treasure." They lifted out the box, and pried the lid open with the shovel. They were so anxious to see what was in the box that one of them reached his hand in even before it was all the way open. He grabbed the snake, which was squirming and wiggling like mad. YEEEEEEEOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!" They dropped everything, and took off running through the woods screaming.
Buba and Jude were bent over double with laughter so hard that tears came to their eyes! The hog-nosed snake, meanwhile, just slithered away on into the woods, happy to be free. Buba and Jude knew that their friend, the hog-nosed snake, was safe, and that they had played a really good trick on the two brothers.
They then headed back to the potato patch. They measured off a spot four paces to the left of a big boulder, dug a hole and buried their treasure in it. They made a new map and hid it away in the house where no one would find it. That way they could dig up their treasure later when they were feeling adventurous again.
Chapter 2 – Turtle Catching
One day Buba and Jude decided that they were going to catch some turtles. A boy in school had told them how to catch turtles. You put some chicken guts or a chicken head on a hook, attach the hook to heavy line, and tie the fishing line onto the handle of a gallon jug, put the jug into water where there are turtles. The jug will float on the water. When you see it bobbing up and down, you know there is a turtle on the end of it.
They walked to a deep part of the swamp where they knew there were lots of turtles. They had seen them sitting on logs. The turtles they had seen were alligator snapping turtles which are big. They lie in the bottom of the swamp, all covered with mud except for their tongues. Alligator snapping turtles' tongues look like worms. So when an alligator snapping turtle's tongue is sticking up out of the mud and wiggling, fish come by, thinking it's a worm. They come over and start to bite it, and SNAP!! The alligator snapping turtle's mouth will close and he'll have himself a nice meal of a fish.
Well, there were lots of these turtles in the swamp. Buba and Jude, on occasions, had seen them, but they'd never been able to catch one. They had their mother save some chicken guts from chickens she had cleaned for dinner. They also found some chicken heads in the trash from chickens their father had killed to feed the family. They found six old cider jugs out behind the barn, some heavy cord, and some big fish hooks used for catching catfish.
They put these things together in a back-pack, walked across the potato patch, and down the hill toward the swamp. They turned right to where the swamp gets deeper. There's a small pathway that goes across the swamp. They went halfway out there to where they had last seen some turtles on a big log. They laid their things down on the shore of the swamp to rig up their turtle-catching equipment. They tied a 3 foot piece of twine with a hook on it to the handle of each of the cider jugs and hooked a big chicken head or piece of chicken guts onto each hook, and then they tossed each rig out into the swamp. They tossed jugs in different directions, until there were six jugs floating around in the swamp. They sat down under a tree and ate lunch while they watched the jugs. After a long while nothing had happened to the jugs. The jugs hadn’t moved a bit, so the boys decided they would go home and come back the next day. It takes a while for turtles to smell the bait and go to the jugs.
As they were walking back home, Jude noticed a big bullfrog sitting along the shore of the swamp. He decided to try to catch him. He snuck down into the edge of the swamp where the mud wasn't too deep, and while he was heading toward the bullfrog he saw a big Cottonmouth Water Moccasin sitting on a tree branch not too far away. Cottonmouths are poisoness. The moccasin slithered down into the water, looking right at Jude. He was only five feet away, and Jude thought he better not go that way. He could see the white inside of the snake's mouth as he opened his jaws. Jude was pretty scared and decided to forget about the bullfrog and go back to the path.
They headed back on up the path and on the way they saw some tracks. Buba said, "Look at these big deer tracks." Jude got down and looked at them and said, "Those aren't deer tracks. They're too big. Those are wild boar tracks. There's been a wild boar right here on this path, and he's been here this morning because those tracks look fresh." Jude could tell they were fresh because they weren't dried up yet. They continued on home thinking about the wild boar.
The next day was Saturday, and that was the day that they would check their turtle rigs, so they got up early while the rooster was crowing and the sun was not yet up. They were eager to get down there right away to check their turtle jugs. They had some cereal for breakfast. Then they took a couple gunny sacks from the woodshed, and headed out across the potato patch, down the hill, and onto the path that led across the swamp. The first thing they noticed was that the jugs were not there. Buba scouted around for them, and over in the lily pads on the far side he could see something moving! He hollered, "Jude, look here! A jug must have something on it! It's moving!” They both ran over to the shore, but the jug was still about ten feet away, and they couldn't reach it. “Buba, get a big stick." Buba went and got a fallen tree limb. They reached out, snagged the jug, and pulled it in as close to the bank as they could. Buba waded in to his ankles and started pulling on the jug. There was a tremendous pull on the other end! They both pulled as hard as they could, because the turtle on the other end was pulling as hard as he could. They backed up onto the bank pulling the jug, while the turtle splashed around in the water on the other end. It was a huge snapping turtle, about three feet long! Together they hauled him up on the bank and saw that the turtle had been hooked in the lower jaw. He opened his jaws with a menacing snap! Buba and Jude decided that there was no easy way to get the hook out of the turtle's mouth, so they cut the line and Buba grabbed the turtle from the back of the shell, being careful to stay out of reach of the snapping turtle's jaws, which were reaching back trying to snap at him. He stuck the turtle, head-first, into the sack, tied the top shut, and laid it beside a tree.
Since the rest of the jugs were so far out in the water, they would need a boat or something to get them. Jude went back home to get a rubber life raft that was in the barn while Buba stayed at the swamp trying to find the rest of the jugs. Jude finally came back with the life raft and they took turns blowing it up. Finally they put it in the water and paddled out into the swamp with two old boards they used as paddles. They headed over to the closest jug. They grabbed the jug and hauled in the cord hand over hand. On the other end was another enormous turtle, so big that, they were afraid that he might sink the raft. Instead of pulling him into the raft, they let him pull them around for awhile, using him as their own “turtle motor.” Soon he headed for the same bank where they had started out. When they got within reach of a tree, they pulled the life raft up onto the bank by holding one of the tree limbs, watching out for snakes in the tree. Then they pulled in the turtle. He was a nice big eight-pound snapping turtle. They cut the line he was on and put him in the other sack. They found the third jug and hauled in the turtle on it, which was a different kind of turtle. It was a smaller Mud turtle. It weighed about-two pounds, so they were able to bring it into the rubber raft with no problems.
They looked around but didn't see more jugs, so they figured the other jugs must have floated out into the middle of the swamp or something. They decided to take their turtles home and return later to look for the other jugs. They threw the heavy sacks of turtles over their shoulders, climbed up the hill, across the potato patch to the house. As they walked, the boys could feel the live turtles moving inside the bags against their backs. They showed their turtles to their father who said they were good ones for eating. He showed them how to get the turtles out of their shells and clean them for cooking. Their mother made turtle steaks and turtle soup and they had a great feast.
That night when Jude got ready for bed he found a leach about two inches long attached to his right leg. He showed it to Buba before he pulled it off. There was a small bloody spot on his leg where the leach had been attached to suck blood. It didn’t hurt.
One day when Buba and Jude were home, their father came and said, “Boys, how would you like to go for a raccoon hunt? Mr. Snidiver has asked us to go with him. You know, he has quite a pack of ‘coon dogs’, hounds that he uses to chase raccoons. He invited us to go along tonight."
"Oh boy," said the boys, excitedly, “That will be great!"
"You know, Mr. Snidiver," their dad said, "hunts coons without shooting them. He catches them alive, and that's why there ought to be lots of excitement, and fun.”
That evening they got in their car and drove over to Mr. Snidiver's house. As they drove up the driveway, sitting there on the front porch were three coon hounds. Two more were laying on the side of the porch. The coon dogs got up, wagging their tails, eager to see them and even more eager to go on a hunt. The boys went inside with their dad, and Mr. Snidiver said with a twinkle in his old eyes, "Well, are you about ready to go on a “coon” hunt? You boys ever hunted ‘coon’ before?"
The boys said, "No, we've seen ‘em, but never hunted ‘em. How do you do it?"
Mr. Snidiver said, "Well, I'll show you. Let's get in the truck, get the dogs aboard, and we'll head on out towards coon territory."
The boys decided to ride in the back with the six coon hounds. The coon hounds were all different shapes and colors. They were all very friendly and enjoyed being in the boys' company. The boys realized, before they arrived at the ridge they were driving out, that they both had a case of fleas! The coon dogs were covered with fleas! They were slapping and scratching like mad as the truck pulled up to its destination.
The dogs quickly unloaded and began to sniff all over the ground scurrying about here and there wagging their tails.
Mr. Snidiver said, "Just let them get a little scent and they'll be on the trail of a coon directly."
Before long, there was a tremendous yelp and howl from one of the coon dogs. "Well, he's picked up the scent already!" said Mr. Snidiver. “That's Old Zeek." Old Zeek took off! All the dogs joined in behind him, barking and bugling their calls which echoed through the hills. They went down across the valley below where the corn patch was, and through the cornfield. Mr. Snidiver said, "let's pull up a stump and sit down a piece and listen. I'll tell you what's happening." Pretty soon, you could hear the dogs as they echoed through the valley on their chase after the coon. He said, "They've picked up a real fresh coon track. I can tell their voices. Now they've headed down the hollow. I can hear them crossing the creek. You can tell because there's a little slow-up. When they get their feet wet, they quit barking for a minute, 'til they get on the other side. Old Zeek's first on the trail again and he's headed up the hill on the other side. That coon's a pretty smart old boar coon, I'll bet, cause it sounds like he went up a stump for a second or two to lead them astray. Now you can tell the difference in the tone of voice, the way the dogs bark when they're barking up a tree. When you get a coon treed, then you know by the hollowness of their voice that it's time for us to take off because the coon's sitting up in the tree. That coon climbed the stump, and for a moment that Zeek dog thought he was treed, but he weren't. Now they're cutting back through the hollow, and through the pine trees! I can tell by the way he's moving and the way their voices are bugling." Pretty soon the dogs' voices began to get louder. The boys, sat there quite eager, knowing that the coon was headed toward them. In a minute they heard a rustling in the bushes and off to their front, through the darkness, they could see the shape of a raccoon as it scurried past them and on off to their left.
"Boy, that coon went right by us, never knowing we were here, he was on the run so!"
Pretty soon, you could hear the dogs following fast on his trail. They came through the bushes and across the field and disappeared into the trees on the other side where the coon had run. Before they knew it, there was a distinct change in the voices of the dogs as they yelped and bugled their calls.
"They've got him treed!" said Mr. Snidiver. The boys and their dad took off trying to keep up with Mr. Snidiver looking for the treed coon. Mr. Snidiver hadn’t turned on his flashlight up to this point, because he wanted their eyes to get used to the dark. When you stay out in the dark without a light after a while, your eyes get used to it pretty soon, and then you can see pretty well. There's this stuff in every ones’ eyes called Visual Purple. It takes about thirty minutes before it gets used to the dark. Once you get used to it, you can begin to see in the dark. You can see a little bit better in the night, the boys learned, if you glance a little bit off to one side or the other, rather than staring straight at something. Somehow the Visual Purple which gives you your night vision isn't in the middle of your eyes, but is off to the side.
They plowed through the brush and trees heading toward where they heard the dogs barking. They got there to find the dogs leaping up and down at the trunk of a huge big oak tree. Mr. Snidiver flicked on his powerful search flashlight, and there, up in the tall branches of the tree, they could see the bright eyes of a big boar raccoon, shining down at them. A male raccoon is called a boar. He was up there looking pretty scared. The dogs were leaping up and down and barking and gnarling and growling down below. You can bet he was scared with all the noise they were making.
Mr. Snidiver went up to each of the dogs and patted them. He gave each of them a dog biscuit, as a reward for doing such a good job finding and treeing the coon. The dogs sounded like they would have much rather eaten the coon than the dog biscuits. But eventually they settled down and were pretty happy to get the dog biscuits. Mr. Snidiver said, "OK, this is what we'll do. I'll climb up the tree, crawl out on that branch, and you and your boys hold open one of these big sacks. I'll shake the coon out of the limb and you catch him in the sack. Now, if you stay right under me and are careful, you can probably do it. It's not an easy task!” Mr. Snidiver shimmied up the tree, taking a long pole with him. He started shimmying out the branch the coon was on. The coon headed further on out the branch, holding on tightly with his claws. He began to spit and sputter and snarl and growl like the boys had never heard a coon do before! Mr. Snidiver shook the branch, trying to get the coon to fall off. Meanwhile, Buba and Jude and their father were underneath holding the big gunny sack wide open in order to catch the coon when he fell. Mr. Snidiver headed on out further, but the coon just backed out further away from him, where the limb tapered thinner. All of a sudden there was a huge cracking sound! Mr. Snidiver and the coon came tumbling out of the tree. The branch, luckily, lowered itself down fairly slowly as it split, so Mr. Snidiver didn't get hurt too badly. But the raccoon came tumbling down, right on top of Jude's head!
Jude let out a tremendous scream as that coon dug its claws into his head! But Jude still held on tightly to the sack which he whipped right over his head, so that the coon and his head were in the sack at the same time! Finally, Jude managed to extract his head from the sack, leaving only the coon inside. There was a lot of yelling and screaming on Jude's part as he performed this quickly executed, and not so delicate, maneuver. Once his head was out, the sack was closed up with the coon still inside, snarling and spitting. Buba was rolling up on the ground with laughter! Mr. Snidiver was sitting on the ground, where he had tumbled out of the tree, and the boys father, after seeing that no one was really hurt, began laughing as well.
Once Mr. Snidiver quit rubbing his sore rear end, where he had landed, he began laughing too. They had never seen such a funny thing! Jude had some bloody scratch marks all up and down his head and neck where the coon had scratched him, but they had caught the coon and it was quite an adventure as they did it.
They all headed back on up the hill with the coon still snarling in the sack. Mr. Snidiver said, "Let's let the dogs have one more run.” The dogs circled around, and pretty soon, they took off again, with loud yelping. "They're on the trail of something now," he said. “Let's just sit down here a spell and wait. The boys, their father and Mr. Snidiver sat down on a log. The coon hounds started getting fainter and fainter as they got farther and farther away. Pretty soon they were almost out of hearing. Finally, they could hear nothing but the frogs in the pond and the crickets in the fields.
About that time Buba and Jude dropped off to sleep on the ground, as they were tired and it was very, very late. About four in the morning, Jude woke up, feeling ants in his clothes, and looked around and there in the light of a half moon was his father, Buba and Mr. Snidiver (making loud snoring sounds), fast asleep. He realized that the coon hounds had never returned and that everybody had fallen asleep in the darkness. He woke up his father, Buba and Mr. Snidiver and asked, “Well, where are the dogs?"
Mr. Snidiver coughed and said, "Well, I guess they must have taken out after a deer or bear instead of a coon, because they plumb disappeared. I guess I'll have to come back and get them tomorrow. Let's get back and get some shut-eye." They all got in the truck, drove back home and tumbled into bed without even undressing. They were asleep before they could say, “good night.” They found out the next day that Mr. Snidiver still hadn't found his dogs. It was a week later before they came back to his house, very hungry. They had had a long chase after something that led them miles away. That sometimes happens with coon hounds...
One day Buba and Jude were talking about big catfish -- the great big monster ones, that lived under the riverbank. They had heard from one of the men who fishes over in the swamp, that there were catfish in there bigger than the boys. Some of them weighed 45 or 50 pounds with great big fat white bellies on them. These catfish live in caves under the riverbank. Nobody can catch them on a line, because they just break the lines. They don't come out of their caves too often, either, until after dark. But they eat the unsuspecting crawfish, minnows or worms that happen to go into their caves.
But there is a way to catch them, and Buba and Jude wanted going to learn how from this old man named Hank, who fished in the swamp. They went across the potato patch, down the hill to the place where they were supposed to meet Hank at a big rock which separates the river from the swamp. They got there and waited for about thirty minutes. Just when they were beginning to think he wouldn't show up, he appeared, walking down the path that cuts through the swamp. In his pack he had two big hooks that looked like the meat-hooks they had seen hanging in the butcher shop. He called out a greeting to the boys and they answered.
"This is what we're going to catch our fish with," he said, holding up one of the big hooks."Gee, you mean we're going to do it without a hook and line?” Jude asked.
"You can't get to the big ones with a hook and line. You have to go under the water after them." He also had with him a mask and some flippers. "C'mon with me. I'll show you some good spots where the big ones hide.”
They walked over to the river, and Hank put on his flippers and his mask, and eased himself over the riverbank and disappeared under the water. They watched him dive under the riverbank. His feet disappeared completely! A few minutes later, he came up, gasping for air, and said, “OK, I’ve found a big one. He’s under this bank you’re standing on in a cave right here. You boys come on with me and I'11 show you." Buba said, "Not me! I'm not going under there!” Jude said, "OK, I'll come. Do you want me to follow you?" Yeah."
Jude had few fears, except for some snakes. He got into the water, while Buba held onto the outside of the riverbank and tried to peer under. Jude put on a mask, and eased under the water, following the man, after taking a big breath of air. As he went under the water, it got very dark, but he could still see through his mask under the riverbank. There was a small hole that went right into the bank. The man disappeared into the cave, so that only his flippers were showing. Buba saw his feet kicking from the river bank as the man tried to back out of the cave. Hooked to the other end of the hook was the biggest catfish that Jude had ever seen in his life! The catfish was thrashing and pulling! The man motioned for Jude to help. Jude grabbed the hook with one hand, being careful not to get in the way of the catfish's horny spine on the top of his head. They hauled this fish, struggling and pulling, all the way up to the riverbank, and it took all three of them to haul him. He was a huge catfish that must have weighed thirty pounds! "Boy, what a monster!" said Buba, as they slid him back away so that he couldn't get back into the river. "Look at size of the spines on the top and sides of him!”
"Watch out for those," Hank said. "They can make a real wound. You see this scar on my arm?" The man showed them the scar which was about four inches long. He explained that a catfish had speared him one time while he was under the bank.
Hank said to the boys, "Over there in another cave under that bank is a mean ol’ catfish no one has been able to get. They call him Old Methuselah, and some say he'll go over fifty pounds. He's a mean old fellow! You stick your hand in his cave and he'll attack it like a vicious dog. Not only can catfish bite, but they can also spear you with their horns. This fellow comes around shaking his head like a bull anytime you come to his cave. Let's make a try for him. I try every time I come. Sometimes I decide not to, when he's particularly mean. Other times I'll make an attempt but I have never had enough air to get in, because he's way back deep in his cave."
Jude was a little wary about this, but decided he'd follow behind the man. Into the water they went, staying close to the bank and holding on to vines that grew over the bank. There were lots of roots in the caves and you had to watch out not to get caught in them. The old man eased his way in, with Jude right behind him. Buba stayed up on the bank. He was not comfortable with the thought of going under water in a dark cave. It was scary business any way you looked at it. After the man disappeared under the embankment, Jude followed him in. The man's flippers were right in Jude's face. As soon as the flippers cleared and he saw Hank going back into the darkness of this very scary cave, Jude decided to wait right there at the entrance. He didn't have enough air anyway. In fact, he was already running out of breath so he came back up to the bank, got a fresh breath of air, and went back, while the man was still on his first breath.
Pretty soon, the man's flippers began backing out of the hole in the riverbank, and hitched to his hook was a huge, thrashing catfish, with the hook embedded in his jaw! The catfish was shaking his head mightily, giving the man a terrible battle! Jude was about out of air, again, and he came up for another breath, diving down again, and grabbing the man to help pull him out! The catfish was resisting and fighting. Jude pulled Hank's feet until he was out of the cave! Then he grabbed the hook handle, along with Hank, and they pulled together as this huge catfish bucked like a bull on the other end. The man got his head above the water, sucking in a quick gulp of air, and disappeared under again, still holding tightly to the hook. Jude got another quick breath of air and tried to help the man haul the giant fish in, but the fish was doing more hauling than they were. Now the fish was trying to pull them out into the current of the river!
Jude called to Buba, "Throw us the rope!" Buba took the rope and threw it as far as he could. It landed right between the two of them. With one hand, Jude grabbed the rope. Buba wrapped the rope around the tree and began pulling, hauling them all in. The catfish was at the other end, pulling against them on the hook that he was securely fastened to. Buba pulled with all his strength, and finally the other two reached the edge of the bank where they grabbed a root, and they both continued to haul in the catfish. Hank grabbed the end of the rope, threaded it through the handle of the big hook, and began hauling the catfish in with the rope. It was the biggest monster that they had ever seen in their lives! The catfish was over four feet long and must have weighed fifty to sixty pounds. They hauled the monster up onto the bank, all three of them pulling with all their might. The catfish continued to move fast and to jerk around, but finally, out of the water, he began to weaken. They managed to pull him far enough off the bank so that he couldn't get back into the water. They sat down and Hank said with a sigh, "Boy, that's old Methuselah! I've been trying to get him for ten years now. He's been getting bigger every year and stronger and you boys helped me get him. There's going to be some good eating when we fillet this catfish into steaks!"
The boys invited Hank back to their house so that they could clean the fish there and have something warm to eat. Jude was pretty chilled from the river and found himself shivering. They beaded on back up the hill, across the potato patch, to the house. Their dad came out to see them and was he ever surprised to see such a huge catfish! “Go get some dry warm clothes,” Jude’s mother scolded, They wanted their father and mother to see this monster before he got cut up into fillets which are not nearly as interesting as the whole fish.
The boys’ father said, "I never dreamed there were catfish that size in that river." The man said, "Most people don't know it. When you fish with a hook and line, you catch some big ones sometimes, but never the big monsters that live under the bank."
Jude was smiling, proud that he had helped catch the monster. They all pitched in cleaning the fish, and filleting them. Hank said, “To fillet fish, you need to keep a very sharp knife.” He pulled one from his pack and began tackling the hard job of cutting the huge head off the fish. That night their mother cooked them some big catfish steak and old Hank stayed over for dinner. There's nothing as good as catfish steaks, especially when they're big ones. They have big white chunks of meat. They were really delicious. They had hush puppies with their catfish, and some delicious salad that their mother made. It was a good day all around. They worked hard, played hard, and had a lot of fun, and great adventure catching those big catfish.
Return to Hal Lyon's Writings Web site