I ran into a friend this past week who said she enjoyed reading about my boyhood days on Second Street. She was about my age and she said it brought back memories of when she was a little girl. That started a short conversation about, “Do you remember when?” 

Her first question was, “Do you remember catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar when you were a little kid?” “Oh yeah” I said. “And do you remember making clover chains?” “I sure do,” was her answer. 

“What about tying a piece of string to a June bug’s leg and letting him fly around in circles as you held one end of the string? Remember that?” “Nope, little girls didn’t do that,” was her answer. 

Well, the little boys of Second Street did. It was fun for us boys but I’m not so sure about the June bugs.

The “Do you remember when” questions went back and forth. “Did you ever eat sour grass or pick wild strawberries by the railroad tracks? What about finding a blackberry patch in late July and bringing home a pan full for a cobbler?”

I remember when we used to fish for doodlebugs. “Do you even know what they are?” I asked. She had never heard of them. The boys of Second Street knew. They were really worms and they lived in the ground. Here is how you catch them. You get a straw from your mother’s broom and spit in the dirt to make a little mud. Then you push it down into the doodlebug hole and when he grabs the mud, you pull that little fellow up. Now you know. Give it a try if you can find a doodlebug hole or a straw broom that your mother still has.

Finally let me tell you about a beautiful little girl named Trudy, who came to visit her aunt on Clayton Avenue. She was the girlfriend of all of us boys. And soon she became a part of the Second Street gang. She wanted to be a part of all we did, so we let her. We taught her how to play mumble peg. This was a game of throwing a pocket knife into a tree and keeping score by how many times it stuck. Trudy played and she lost. The loser had to pull a wooded match out of a mud puddle with her teeth after each boy got to drive it down with three strokes of the knife handle. With that pretty face and braces on her teeth, she didn’t back away. She got the match out and we got a tongue lashing from her aunt. 

We also taught Trudy about snipe hunting, but that is another story that only us old folks know about. And it probably needs to be left untold.

Yes, that was a different time more than 75 years ago. There wasn’t any organized play for us kids, so we made up our own ways to have fun and now we get to relive them with our memories. “Thanks, old friend, for reminding me.” And, oh yeah, neither Trudy nor my old friend caught any snipes.


George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.

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