It surprises me when I find a piece of Mom’s writing that I’ve not seen before. This one page memory titled “Running Barefoot in the Flinthills” is set in 1935. I wish we could have included it in her book, My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas.
Mother let my sisters and me go barefooted when we went crawdad hunting. Near the oilfield camp, where we lived when I was nine years old, was a small rocky creek running through the prairie. It was the home for small minnows and lots of crawdads. As soon as it was warm enough to go barefoot, Mother would let us go down to the creek.
In the early spring and summer, the little critters were small and caused us to do a lot of splashing around in the shallow water as we tried to catch them. We would pick up rocks in the water and try to catch the crawdads as they scurried backward seeking another rock to get under. I had to carefully pick up the rocks so the water wouldn’t get so muddy that I couldn’t see the crawdads.
In late summer we would take an old tea kettle with us to put the big crawdads in. The bigger the better. When the kettle was full of the scrambling, snapping miniature lobsters, we proudly carried them home to be prepared for our supper.
We would pick them up by their backs behind their large pincers and twist off their tails. When we peeled the tails, we had a luscious piece of meat that curled sorta like shrimp. Mother rolled them in flour and fried them. The muscles in the tail would make them twitch and jump when they started getting hot in the skillet just like bullfrog legs.
I think I like to eat crawdad tails even better than frog legs. Try them sometime, you’ll like them too.