I saw this week where out in Bowling Greeh, Ky. they had found a 9 inch long crawdad. Biggest ever seen, a record breaker. That reminded me of my childhood playing in the creeks and hollows of Eastern Kentucky.

When I was a child we had hardly any “brought on” toys, For you that don’t know that meant store bought or manufactured, not hand made from a child’s creative mind. We waited with great excitement for May 1st! That was the day we were allowed to pull our shoes off for the summer and wade the creek. Boy! we would split it wide open too!

We loved to take a fruit jar or old can and catch crawdads. While we were having fun our brains was developing our fine motor skills, out hand/eye co-ordinatiom, and quick reflexes. Sometimes I wonder that without these outside exercised how children develop them today! Anyway, catching them was a challenge and just plain fun. The little ones were fairly easy but sometimes we would find a big one. By that I mean maybe 3 inches tail to pincher tips. These were much harder because they used those pinchers like a ninja using a sword! They could reach back and get you if you didn’t grab them right where the pinchers attached.

There were two kinds of big crawdads. We called them soft shells and hard shells. The soft shelled ones were brown and even the biggest ones of these didn’t have the pinching power of thr hard shells. The hard shells were bluish on the backs. They were deadly with those pinchers. I never much messed with them !

We caught water dogs to. Those are salamanders that live in our creeks. They were hard to catch to. We children could entertain ourselves for hours in the creeks catching these two little creatures.

We sometimes did a cruel thing to the bigger soft shells for you see they had a pearl in their backs. We would kill them to see if they had a pearl. How did we do that? We put them in boiling water just like they do lobsters in fancy restaurants today. Sometimes we found one, sometimes not.

One final memory that involved crawdads:

My brother Vance Bowilng lived across the road from my house. One summer while mowing the grass in soft tennis shoes he slipped and his foot went under the mower and cut of two of his toes. Of course he was rushed to the hospital for repairs. I went to see him in the emergency room. He ask to speak with me privately. He said he didn’t want the children or his wife to find his toes laying in the yard. He ask me to get them and bury them before they got home. I found the toes and as I was looking for a place to bury them I saw this big crawdad hole on the edge of the little branch that ran out of the holler by his house. Voila! A ready made grave! I dropped them down the crawdad hole.

Several years later we were all together as a family event and he was teling the story about cutting off his toes. He looked at me and said “by the way, what did you ever do with my toes?”. I told him I fed them to the crawdads. He thought I was just joking and everyone laughed. I never did tell him that it was the truth!

Glenna Combs