Summertime, July, 1952, New England and
nothing to do on a foggy Thursday morn.
Phone rings and the husky twelve year old
voice of 'Mick" enters my ear.
"Dick, lets go fishing tomorrow morn down
at Otter Creek and see if we can't catch
Why a "husky" voice at twelve, you may ask.
Simple; Michael Fitzgerald O'Rourke was
possessed of a magnificent flattened boxer's
nose that resonated his youthful soprano into
a seasoned growl whenever he spoke. He was
the envy of the neighborhood and it was
supposed that the nose was a testament to
his prowess in the fine art of fisticuffs.
Truth be told, his little sister, tired of
the constant teasing, hammered him with the
business end of a large kitchen skillet and
forever altered his visage and his septum!
"Okay for tomorrow; but, what kind of bait
should we try this time?"
"How about we start out with night crawlers
and see what happens?"
"All right with me; but, I don't have any
more, do you?"
"Nah; but we can go to the golf course tonight
and load up except that we'll need a piece of
red cellophane and mom opened the last bottle
yesterday and threw it out."
Now you ask, what does red cellophane have to
do with milk? In the old days, before dirt,
milk actually was home delivered by truck,
in glass bottles with cardboard caps. Not your
squared-up, plasticized cartons of today. And,
the heavy cream bottles were denoted by a piece
of bright red rubber banded cellophane that
covered the top.
What does red cellophane have to do with
anything? Holie molie, have you never fetched
night crawlers after dark and tried to catch
them with a bright-beamed yellow glowing
flashlight. Any veteran "crawler snatcher"
knows that an unshielded light is too bright
and produces too much heat for criminy's sake!
That's why you need the red cellophane
rubber-banded over the flashlight lens - dummy!
"We can probably get some from the "Milkman" if
No, not the milkman; "The Milkman."
Charles Arthur Rutherford Pearsall from New
Joisey! Why "The Milkman" and not the obvious
"CARP?" Cause Charles informed us bumpkins,
when asked where he thought milk came from,
that it came from bottles delivered to your
"What does it have to do with a filthy cow,"
was his response to the question. And that's
how Charles was inducted into the neighborhood
clan and forever tagged, "The Milkman."
Chuck did supply the cellophane and we were
able to gather the requisite 'crawlers that
night at the golf course.
I bicycled down to Mick's house with my bait
caster over the handlebars and we set off for
the creek. We had to be quiet as we approached
"Big George's" lair cause the entryway was
through "Evergreen Cemetery" and there was a
burial service in progress when we arrived.
Except for a few of us kids, no adults ever
fished this area of Otter Creek because of
the cemetery. Reckon they thought it might
look out of sorts to be parking a vehicle
there and then commence to drag fishing gear
etc. out instead of respectfully trooping over
to the family plot to pay respects.
Mick and I proceeded to the far end of the
gravel roadway, stowed our bikes in the high
grass and carefully walked through the screen
of blackberry bushes to the high-banked spot
where we had seen "Big George" on numerous
The creek was it's usual chocolate hue after
a heavy overnight shower; but, that would
only serve to shield us from the glassy-eyed
monster that we sought.
An hour of 'crawlers did nothing to arouse
the prize we were after and only resulted
in a few small perch and an occasional
Mick finally reached into his pocket and
pulled out a paper bag.
"What's you got there, I asked?"
"This is what will get him," he proudly
intoned, and held up a large red and white
"Daredevle" spoon festooned with the
wickedest looking set of treble hooks you
Mick tied it to his twenty-pound test mono
and heaved it almost the breadth of the
river. The second retrieve across was
accompanied by a large swirl just as the
spoon was lifted up the high bank and out
of the water.
"Holy crap! Did you see that," Mick screamed.
"Quick, throw it back in and reel faster
this time," was my reply.
Mick almost hooked a huge river willow on
the far side in his excitement; but, was
able to avoid it and started pumping that
reel like a runaway locomotive.
Halfway to the bank a humongous, toothy,
white snout parted the water and started
to gain on the rapidly churning spoon. To
our twelve year old eyes it looked like a
giant alligator about to crunch another
hapless critter that wandered into its
With one snap of the jaws, Mick's red and
white spoon disappeared and "Big George"
turned with his meal firmly attached to
the left side of his lower lip. Mick
cranked that reel and we both prayed that
those razor teeth wouldn't part his line.
After about three or four minutes; at least
an hour in our mind's eye, the battle was
almost over. However, we had forgotten how
high and slippery the banks around "Big
George's" hidey hole actually were.
"Mick, how are you gonna get him up the bank?"
"Here, hold the pole," was the reply as
Mick proceeded to reach for the holster
on his belt, withdraw his ever present,
serrated edged "Buck" knife; placed it
between his teeth and dove off the bank
into the river!
He surfaced, blowing chocolate water
through mouth and nose, and swam to the
bank where I was holding "Big George"
fearful that he would break the line
at any minute.
Mick wrapped his left arm around the
middle of the pike and began flailing
away with his Bowie sized blade.
On about the tenth thrust he happened to
whack "Big George" right between his
malevolent eyes and the battle slowed
considerably after that.
Mick grabbed "George" by the gill plate
and tail and between us both we were able
to slide him up the muddy bank. I had to
get a long tree limb to hoist Mick up and
he finally made it out. He looked like one
of Willy Wonka's chocolate "hump-a-lumpa's"
after a candy bath.
I ferried the rods home while Mick, with
"Big George" proudly lashed to the handlebars
of his fender less Schwinn, air-dried his
soaked butt on the ride home.
We went to the woodshed behind Mick's house
where he tacked "Big George" to the wall
with a six-inch spike. "He" measured out
at thirty-nine and a half inches and weighed
a magnificent seventeen pounds four ounces.
Mick was the hero of the neighborhood for
the rest of the summer and his tale of the
mighty adventure wasn't doubted; with a
witness for the prosecution, yours truly,
and a totally river mud slimed outfit to
compliment the occasion.
And that's how Mick came to be "Tarzan"
forevermore in our little world! ~ RT