Another warm summer evening in the
"green mountains" of Vermont.
Growing up there in the 40's and 50's
was a special time with a much slower
pace then the frenetic abundance of
organized activities available for a
ten year old in today's world.
One had to rely on one's own initiative
to occupy the day's events with fun, games
or other fulfilling projects.
Friday evenings usually meant visiting my
grand parents home, a scant three blocks
away, unless you cut through a couple of
neighbors yards "as the crow flies."
Gram and Gramps had an expansive and very
level lawn that was ideal for a croquet set
up. Many a pleasant summers eve was spent
smacking croquet balls through little wire
hoops. Or, when the opportunity presented,
having the chance to place your ball next
to an opponent's, whackin' the fire out of
it, and sending them way back on the course.
After the evenings "sets" were completed
Gramps liked to sit in his rocker on the
side porch while he smoked a pipe of
"Half & Half." While the aroma was fairly
pleasant, and oft remembered nowadays, I
used to wonder, "Half of what?"
This particular evening, watching the fireflies
light the night sky, Gramps asked how I'd like
to go with him in the morning and catch some
frogs at a local pond.
Having been an accomplice on a few other
interesting trips with Gramps, this fell
right into the category of another probable
adventure worth the undertaking.
Early next morn after breakfast, which
consisted of Gramps ritual consumption
of two raw eggs in a glass of milk flavored
with a small sprinkling of cinnamon, we made
plans for the outing. He also ate freshly
ground horseradish at every meal of the day.
Said he never had a cold his whole life and
that was the reason. Later in life, I told
him it was because he smelled so bad that
all the other people carrying the cold germs
didn't want to get near him!
The first order of the day was for me to
get my new "Red Ryder" gazillion shot repeater
BB gun while he emerged from the basement with
a short, metallic rod; to which was attached
a funny looking reel.
"What's that for Gramps?"
"Why, to catch some frogs, of course!"
"Where are we headed now?"
"Going down to Eddy Ice Pond."
Not Eddie's nor Eddy's – just Eddy!
It was a family surname, not a first
Eddy Ice Pond was about three acres in
circumference, of undetermined depth;
but plenty deep enough to freeze to the
three foot level or more in the winter.
It was ringed by a gently sloping, treeless
hill side, with a huge barn-like storage
facility a short haul away. Lily pads were
abundantly scattered all around the perimeter
of the pond; but, they didn't extend out very
far; probably due to the depth and the ice
In the winter time huge blocks of ice were
sawn out of the pure spring water-fed pond
and placed in sawdust storage for later
dispersal in the summer. This again was in
the days of non-electric refrigerators, when
the "iceman," that great big rubber-caped
crusader, delivered blocks of ice to all
the neighborhoods; slinging these hefty
blocks over his shoulder and holding them
there with those wicked looking two-pronged
tongs. In the meantime, we sneaked up to the
back of his truck to purloin pieces of
delicious, cold, crystalline ice fragments
left behind from where he chopped the larger
squares to fit the individual boxes.
Gramps said he'd give me first "shot," literally,
at the frogs; so, I cocked the BB gun and nailed
the first one without a hitch. The long handled
net took care of the retrieval with one quick
scoop by Gramps.
Now it was time for the "Secret Weapon" to be revealed.
In a few quick stretches, Gramps had that
metal rod extended to it's full potential
and about six more feet longer then it's
original four. Voila – a ten foot metallic
fly rod, with reel, line and hook attached.
So, what did that have to do with catching
frogs you ask?
Well, the next part of the secret was
produced when Gramps reached into his
vest pocket and pulled out a small,
square patch of red flannel. This he
promptly attached to the hook at the
end of his line.
"What are you going to do with that?"
"Catch frogs;" was the succinct reply!
"Why else did we come here?"
He then walked along the pond till he
located the next lily pad dwelling "menu
object." Reaching out with the rod he
dangled that flannel patch just over its
head. He gently swung it back and forth a
couple of times and then the water erupted
as that amphibious critter suddenly became
a trapeze artist and performed an amazingly
high flying leap. It gulped down that red
flannel, like a June bug lunch offering,
and promptly was as well lip hooked as your
best trout take.
Into the burlap sack it went, to join my
"Red Ryder" frog, and we proceeded to fill
a goodly portion of it in a few hours.
Grandma welcomed the frog leg supper that
appeared at her kitchen door a few hours
"Gramps" and I never did fish the Eddy
Ice Pond again; but, that memory still
returns every time a pretty little lily
padded pond comes into view. ~ Richard A. (Dick) Taylor (Grn Mt Man)