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The "Great Crawdad Massacre of 1976"


The year was 1976, the same year our great country celebrated 200 years of freedom from the British. It was also the year I imprisoned and accidentally killed a couple hundred crawdads, thus freeing them from living in mud and smelling bad.

I was 11 years old with what I now think was an undiagnosed case of attention deficit disorder. I also was with a willing friend, a pound of bacon and two coolers. It was the perfect storm.

I was spending the night with Staci Newman, who was 12 at the time and therefore older and more responsible than me. Staci lived on the corner of Peterson Road and the expressway in a big house with a lot of land with trees and probably more than one pond.

I loved Staci's parents, Newt and Estalline Newman, because they were so sweet and didn’t sweat the small stuff, or in this case, the bigger stuff.

This particular morning, Staci and I were walking around the property and stumbled across one of the ponds which, upon closer inspection, had crawdads swimming in it.

Armed with a combined world experience of 23 years, we figured out that crawdads just love bacon and we could certainly capitalize on that with absolutely no thought of an end result.

That was kind of my signature move in those days.

So we went back to the house, requested and received one pound of bacon, then gathered up string and two coolers and headed back to the pond.

We spent the day meticulously tying string onto bacon, throwing it into the pond and then retrieving it with a crawdad clinging onto the bacon like it had won the lottery.

Then we put them in the cooler to keep them fresh on that hot summer day. When we got too sunburned to continue we drug the two full coolers back to the house.

I didn’t mention ice for the coolers earlier, because there was none. Being all impressed with ourselves for figuring out that crawdads had a bacon fetish had effectively shut down any more logical thinking for the day.

Then, we forgot all about the crawdads until the next day when Staci’s dad discovered two coolers full of stinking crawdad corpses on the back porch.

I thank God to this day that Newt didn’t call the Game Warden on us, because we would have gone to the big house – it was that horrifying.

I tell you this because this week one of my co-workers ran into the office and announced that there was something with pinchers and babies on the sidewalk in front of our office after we got some rain.

I went out to investigate – because anything with that description has raging potential – and found that a crawdad had somehow landed in a puddle in front of our office.

Coincidence? I think not. Never, ever think you can escape karma.

A crowd had gathered and somebody scooped it up in a cup along with some rain water with the intention of taking it to the lake and releasing it back into the wild.

I put my face inches from the cup, and almost as if she were avenging the death of her great-great-grandcrawdaddy in the year of our Lord, 1976, she reared up and shook her little pinchers at me in kind of a menacing way. Then she spit out a few babies, which I could see swimming around the bottom of the cup, also in a menacing way.

It appears I have pissed off several generations of Crawfish.

So I wrote Staci’s address on a post-it note and slipped it into her tiny, angry pinchers. And I went back to work.