Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fish Eating Brother

Since so many of you were curious about my brother and the minnow incident, here is

The Story of the Fish Eating Brother

We lived for several years in a wide spot in the road originally built to handle the oil field workers during the oil boom years in eastern Colorado. The entire community could have easily been seated at a small restaurant with seats leftover. The tone of the area gave new meaning to the phrase "white trash without trailer houses." In front of our house was a dirt road and a large dryland farm field. Behind our house was waste ground and an oil field equipment storage dump. But the crucial piece of ground was right next door. That was the abode of the McD clan.

The McD clan pretty much ran free range, much like free range chickens. There were enough of them that they were never all accounted for except at meal times. They ranged in age from teenagers to tiny tots. The front yard was full of junk and the equipment and furniture that wouldn't fit in the house. Things like an old wringer washing machine on the front porch that Mrs McD used to wash the clothes. Quite a sight when it was below zero and snowy. You know, all the things you see a lot of today.

A couple of the McD kids straddled my brother and I in age and since there was no one else near by, we were honorary McD clan members as far as play went. Picture the kinds of trouble we could get into in the middle of nowhere with all that equipment and open space around. The McD clan had an old outhouse on the back corner of their property, which we kids often used rather than going into the house as we were playing. I was about 5 years old and my brother around 4 at the time of this incident.

Now Dad went fishing from time to time and that meant there was often a minnow bucket with a hose running in it to keep some live bait to hand. Nothing was more attractive to us kids than the continuously renewing mud puddle around the minnow bucket. Of course, the minnows were also attractive, but we just knew that playing with them would get us into trouble.

One day, the typical game of one-up escalated to the dare of taking a {*gasp*} minnow. One of the McD clan filched the minnow and, as we all stood around admiring his bravery and skill, Eddie, the oldest McD in the group, proposed that he would pay a glorious 25 cents to whomever would eat the minnow. All heads turned to my little brother. He already had a reputation as the kid that would eat anything. He had gained fame earlier in our group by eating a few bees (while they were still buzzing I might add). He thought about it for a moment and said that he would, but that he wanted the minnow cooked first (so he had at least learned a little from the bee stings).

Cooking the minnow was problematic. None of us was allowed to play with fire. But Eddie had the solution. Since Mr. McD smoked, he would abscond with his matches overnight and the minnow would be re-captured and cooked and eaten in the morning. The captured minnow was returned to the bucket to await the feast and we proceeded on our normal trouble making for the rest of the day.

Mid-morning the next day, the delegation converged on the outhouse. Eddie brought the matches, another McD member brought the minnow, and I brought my brother (or he brought me). So with the 5 or 6 of us congregated at the outhouse, Eddie and my brother stepped inside to do the transaction, leaving the door open so we could all glory in the moment. The minnow was duly transferred to my brother, who held it by its tail while Eddie lit match after match and held them beneath the poor fish. At some point my brother called it done. He then glibly flipped the fish into his mouth, chewed for a bit, swallowed, and held out his hand for his quarter. (A quarter was a lot of money to us then!) Eddie duly paid up and we were left to find some new mischief to get into. That bit of legerdemain had sealed my brothers status as the bravest of the brave. Who else could eat live bees and minnows heated over forbidden matches. He was well on his way to McD clan super stardom.

Unfortunately for my brother's new found status, we moved to Nebraska shortly thereafter to the town of the My First Bicycle. The only lasting effect was that he was very susceptible to being teased about eating raw fish. (Not like his kindly older brother would ever do anything like that. {*grin*}) He remains a bit touchy about the incident even today.

So there you have it - The Story of the Fish Eating Brother.


  1. And a good story too. OK, there is one dissenting view, from the minnow, but...

  2. This is such a classic type of story. Sounds like a great place to be a kid ... though I wouldn't want to be Mrs McD doing my wash outside in the winter -- and with a wringer washing machine no less.

  3. What a perfect coming of age story! I could see that as part of a movie. :)

  4. You kill me :p and OMG your brother is my hero lol he didn't even need a drink after the minnow! :D Great story Dan I really enjoyed it.

  5. Great story.......and great memory!

  6. That sounds almost as bad as eating worms! Your brother is one brave dude...

  7. I sympathize the most with the minnow in this particular story. It almost seems kinder to have just eaten him alive!


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