Eastern Shore Crabs - All You Can Eat
In my husband's world, food rules. Actually, it not only rules, but he also has many "rules" that have to do with food. One of them is the "uninterrupted meal" rule. Absolutely nothing, will generally get him to break this hard core stand, for eating is serious business.
There has been only one time, when his meal was interrupted, and it resulted in his getting hauled off to jail. It's the sole reason, you'll find no Eastern shore crabs in our house anymore.
Dead to the world in sleep at our rural West Virginia home, the phone rang at 2:00 a.m. The Baltimore, Maryland deputy on the other end, informed me that my husband had been arrested and would be arraigned in the morning. Since Bill had only just left on his railroad freight run that afternoon, this sharing of informatio, immediately made me think that one of his buddies was trying to play a joke on me. I knew better, they weren’t fooling me.
My husband of many years, is probably one of the most honest and upstanding men on the planet. He is incapable of lying, and incapable of committing a crime of any nature. What I was being told could not possibly be true . . . . Or could it be?
Still thinking I've got some ha ha jester on the line, I just let him talk. To my surprise, he next started rattling off a case number and a phone number.
In the background, I could hear my darling's voice and something didn't sound right. Now, awakened fully in the realization this was "no joke," I finally demanded to know, "on what charges?" Upon which, the deputy informed me he wasn't at liberty to say, but he would put Bill on the phone.
The somewhat modern day term foodie is what most would have called the gourmet of yesterday. Simply defined it is someone who thoroughly enjoys all aspects of good food. That can be eating, cooking, or even shopping for the best ingredients.
"Well, Lucy, you've done it again!" Bill said in a half-joking voice. That's the kind of comment I hear from him, whenever he blames me for his problems. By then, I'm thinking once again, "He's got to be drunk."
However, he would never ever risk his job and retirement benefits of over thirty years, by drinking when he's working. Railroad crews know that alcohol and drugs are grounds for immediate dismissal. Therefore, that didn't fit with my reality. Besides, he hadn't wanted more than one beer at any time, in all the years I'd known him. Therefore, I am very confused.
"I've been arrested for an outstanding warrant for a bad check in West Virginia," he confides.
Now, this statement, is very attention grabbing. I'm the only one with the checkbook. He hasn't written a check in years. Moreover, Mr. Frugal would never bounce a check, and I certainly had never signed his name to a check.
Confused, I start yakking at him in quick statements and questions . . . . "This has got to be a mistake. Why would they arrest you in Baltimore, when you are supposed to be getting your rest for your return freight run? What check and to who wrote the check, it certainly wasn't you?"
The deputy in the background says something to him, and Bill abruptly says, "I've got to go" and hangs up. Therefore, there I sat in the silence of our mountain home, in total stunned in disbelief.
Then, I remember, his train is due to leave out in a couple of hours. If he isn't in the motel room when the dispatcher calls, and on that train on time -- he could be fired. He could lose his pension, his health insurance, everything he's ever worked for!
I immediately try to call back on the number the deputy gave me. No one answers, the line just rings. I probably called fifteen time on redial speed call, repeatedly with the same results.
Why Your Mamma Tells You to Never Lie
After a ten-minute debate with myself, I decide I'm going to call the dispatchers (they are in Jacksonville, Florida). My big plan was to tell them that Bill ate something bad, and is too sick to make the return trip. Thus, allowing them to call another conductor out for the return trip.
The railroad rules are, that there must be a conductor/brakeman on every train. If there is no conductor, he'll get fired for sure since the train schedule would be delayed. My lie, of course, wasn't well thought out, and is a good example of why lying only compounds your troubles.
"Well, if he's sick, I'll send the train master over with a doctor," the dispatcher says to me.
Ok . . . . Oh, no! I think, this is not what I want to happen.
Thinking quickly, in my panic I tell him,"He just has really bad diarrhea and he would be mortified, if anyone showed up at his room. Just mark him off sick please," I beg, still thinking I'm saving Bill from being fired.
The concerned dispatcher still kept on insisting that Bill needed medical attention, but finally gave in and agreed to call another crew member in his place. As I hung up, I knew that something was really amiss.
I spent the rest of the night making many 411 calls. I was trying to get a number to find someone who could get the message to Bill, that I had marked him off sick. I was afraid he'd call the dispatcher and tell him something different than I had, and get fired over that.
Around daylight, I finally reached another deputy at the jail, who informed me that Bill had been released earlier. This tidbit of news sets me on the frantic path of calling his motel room. It was not until around 8:00 a.m. in the morning before he answered the phone. (The train crew still hasn't been called out for the run.)
How To Pick a Maryland Crab
Conversation - West Virginia Style
Bill, of course, wants to tell me in his long drawn out West Virginia style, how it came to be that he was arrested.
"Ralph (the engineer) gave me a half bushel of crabs. So, I decided when I got to the room I had to eat them before I could sleep or they'd spoil," he says to me.
Now, this thought process would be normal for Bill, as like I said -- food rules, nothing stands in the way of his eating. In my mind, I don't have to have a picture painted as to what all eating shelled crabs involves. This man spreads out newspapers on the motel bed for such a feast, and gets down to the task at hand in his underwear (so his clothes stay clean). True to his West Virginia slow stroll style of life, eating one crab can take a half hour, maybe more. No morsel of crab meat will be left, nor a drop of juice. Like I said, eating, for Bill is serious business.
"I was about halfway through my crabs, when I heard a loud racket in the hall. You know how some people's kids run around motels? After a while, I got up and looked out the peephole in the door. I saw people walking down the hall. I didn’t know or care what they were doing. I just wanted to finish my crabs, shower, and go to sleep."
"Just as I was working on my next crab, it sounded like someone was pounding on the door. I got up again and looked out that hole. There was some woman at the door. Well, I wasn't answering the door in my underwear -- besides I couldn't think of any reason I had to answer the door. There are a lot of prostitutes in Baltimore motels, and you know how women like railroaders. So, I went back to my crabs."
"A couple of minutes later, this same woman is back at the door, really pounding on it. I asked her what she wanted and she told me, she was the police! I didn't think so, but I opened the door, but made sure I was standing behind it. Then, she started yelling at me -- something about the motel being on fire, and that I needed to get out now! Then, she hollered at me to put my clothes on!"
It was very clear he was indignant about all of this. Knowing him all too well; this indignation, was solely about having his feast interrupted.
"I threw on my clothes, didn't even put on my shoes, or get my wallet and started following her out the door. On the way out, some firefighter yelled at me as if I was some dog, and cussed me out for not being out of the motel. So, I flipped him the bird and cussed him back."
Listening to this, I'm thinking, 'That's my rooster.' He's not one to allow anyone to tell him off using swear words. The only time he cusses, is when someone cusses him. The moral code of Bill is a complex one, second only to his food rules.
Led Aways in Chains
"Me and the rest of crew went across the street to the Dunkin Donuts while they put out the fire. Then, I see some railroader talking to some cops outside and pointing to me.
One of the cops comes in and asks to see my ID. I tell him it's back in the room. He asks me to step outside. When I ask why, he proceeds to handcuff me. Then, he chains my legs, and they take me way out to some jail on the edge of town. All the other guys are just watching."
"At first, the police were just talking about me refusing to leave the scene of a fire when ordered to. Then, it was something about the firefighter, that I didn't understand. I kinda figured it was serious, when they read me my rights, hauled me off, and started fingerprinting me."
How To Eat Blue Crabs the Right Way!
Crab Tree Soup
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 8 ears of fresh corn, cut off cob (can substitute 1-12 oz. bag frozen corn)
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1/2 medium chopped red pepper
- 2 ribs chopped celery, finely diced
- 1 bunch chopped green onions
- 1 pound peeled shrimp
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- 1 box frozen chopped broccoli
- 3 cans of cream of shrimp soup
- 1/2 cup milk
- Cook broccoli according to package directions and drain of all liquid
- Sauté in butter, the corn, onions, and peppers
- Let them wilt, then add the shrimp and crab meat
- Sauté until the shrimps are pink
- Add broccoli
- Add soups and milk (add more if you want a thinner soup)
- Do not let this soup boil
"The next thing I know, they come back and tell me that there's an outstanding warrant from five years ago in West Virginia. Then, they say I'll have to wait till the magistrate comes in the morning, to decide where they are going to take me. That's when I called you."
"A couple of hours later, they tell me it's all a mistake (the bad check) and I can go. They took me out there in a car, but told me I had to find my own way back to the motel. I didn't even have any shoes. I didn't have my wallet, so I started walking. It wasn't till I was a couple of blocks away, that I realized I really had to pee, like it was an emergency."
"I was going to use the bathroom at a nearby 7-11, but as I was walking up, the woman clerk ran over, and locked the door. She wouldn't let me in, even when I told her I just need to use the bathroom."
"Walking on, I still really had to pee, but by then I was in a residential neighborhood. I finally found a tree I could hide behind to relieve myself. Then, someones dog started barking."
"Next, a man turned on floodlights and started yelling at me. A few minutes later, I see cops are driving in my direction, shining a spotlight all over, looking for me. I wasn't going back to jail. So, I ran and hid until I saw them drive off. Then, I had to walk for three hours back to the motel without my shoes."
Thinking he was nearing the end of his tale of woe, I took a pause in his story to share my clever thinking in marking him off sick. Imagine my shock, when he shouted, "WHAT?" and promptly hung up on me.
Since this freight run typically was about sixteen hours each way, I had a lot of time to worry about when, and if he ever came back home -- what I was going to say about my role in adding to his troubles. Clearly, I had not "saved the day."
That afternoon, I watched my very tired husband slowly drive up our dirt road, get out and drag himself into the house. The only words he spoke were to inform me that he wouldn't be eating the remaining crabs, as they were spoiled. Then, he promptly went to bed for the next ten hours.
To this day, we've apparently decided some events are best just not talked about. Without conversation, not even a word, we mutually agreed that whole night was not to be spoken about between us. He hasn't wanted Maryland crabs since. Food still rules my foodie, just some foods have been eliminated from the food chain.