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Blood On The Banks Of Sebewa Creek.
Childhood, An Introduction. For My Friend, Kevin
All my childhood was spent pursuing one adventure after another. I grew up in the township of Sebewa, Michigan where we had the Quilting Potluck Picnic every year at the country school house. Across the street from the school was the Paterson’s country store, where in 1982 you could get a vintage 1964 Coke for sixty cents. Business was slow and most of the store’s product had seen several generations of price changes. Nearly all of Paterson’s customers were kids my age riding bikes and the Mexican workers from the muck fields. The community bolstered a whopping ghost town’s worth of citizens, all of which were small family farms.
Life was simple then. The community was crime free and quiet without a care in the world. Everyone got along with everyone. Then there was Kevin and me. Kevin was my best friend and cohort in many childhood adventures, most of which I will omit as his mother isn’t above grounding his adult ass to this day! Kevin and I grew up together in Sebewa, boring old Sebewa. There wasn’t a failed experiment we didn’t attempt, a hay loft we didn’t have a fort built in, a woods we hadn’t contaminated or a creek we hadn’t traversed. We were explorers to the nth degree
Sebewa Creek meanders past Kevin’s childhood home. Being the avid fishermen that we were, Kevin and I did everything from netting fish, fishing for fish and even shooting them with bb guns. The problem with fishing the creek was that the fish could travel downstream and out of our range. Range being the distance from the home that we were allowed to travel without causing a conflict with neighbors and a serious scolding and grounding from our parents. We were grounded a lot. The obvious answer to our fish dilemma was to cut off their route of escape, build a dam! We had visions of a creek filled to the brim teaming with monster northern pike, walleye and large mouth bass. We hauled and piled rocks into the creek and soon our dam was complete. It was soon apparent that our meager resevoir would not support our game fishery after all. We managed to dam up the creek only far enough to warrant a phone call from the farmer down stream letting our parents know that their irrigation systems were running dry. Tear down the dam.
Sebewa Creek did have a couple of deep holes under bridges that did support larger guppies and crayfish. We built fish spears out of sticks and nails, nets out of onion sacks and sticks, nothing ever worked. One spring I smuggled dip nets and waders from my grandfather’s garage and headed off to Kevin’s house for yet another Louis and Clark expedition. The nets were heavy and laborious, constructed out of steel mesh and six foot long handles made of lead. Pedaling the two miles to Kevin’s house past the neighbor’s rabid, kid hungry dog was an adventure all it’s own.
. Fortunately the waders I heisted were so full of holes the water flowed freely right on through creating little resistance to the icy current. Had we had waders without the convenience of holes we may have been swept away downstream and shot out into the fields as irrigation.
Kevin and I began our trek at the farthest reaches of our boundary, wading in the icy waters dipping for shiners. Why? I am not too sure. Maybe because they were there I guess. After an hour or so we had waded for a half mile and managed quite a few minnows for the time of the year. None of the fish we ever netted, caught or shot were ever over three or four ounces. I dipped the net down and under the bank while Kevin stomped and prodded from above. I pulled the net up and behold! A four or six pound Sucker! Holy shit! Somewhere in the distance a cock crowed, time stood still, wars ended and the world was a better place! I don’t recall what we did with that first fish, but life was good and we soon netted several more! Later that day when we spun our fish netting tale to Kevin’s father, Ken, we were informed that the Suckers must be spawning and were doing so in our creek! Ken also made the mistake of telling us that he use to spear Suckers at night with flashlights.
Spearing Sebewa Creek
My grandfather never missed the fish spears that I stole from his garage. I justified this petty larceny by repeating to myself that grandpa was too old to be spearing and I was doing the family a favor by getting rid of the dangerous devices before he hurt himself. That night, flashlights in hand and armed with freshly honed spears in the other, Kevin and I set out on our first spearing crusade. Had our parents known that we would actually spear anything at all I doubt they would have let us go. Since most of our adventures ended in failure and were quite fruitless we were encouraged to go, more than likely just to get us out of the house for the night. Light gave way to darkness as Kevin and I entered the creek. Kevin’s dad never missed the flashlights that we switched on as we began wading. I am not sure of how Kevin justified the flashlight theft but I am sure it was good.
Ape Shit for Spearing
It was not long before I shined up the first Sucker of the night laying on the creek bed. Kevin made his move. Quietly thrashing, stumbling and splashing through the current to our quarry. He set and speared! Somewhere in the distance a cock crowed, time stood still, wars ended, and the world was a better place, for at the end of Kevin’s spear quivered a dying Sucker, the first of many slaughtered that night. SUCCESS at last! Kevin and I had finally triumphed and were winners for the first time in all of our years of conquests together. We hugged, sobbed and held each other for a brief moment then got on with the task of killing off as many Suckers as possible. That evening we managed twenty to thirty spawning fish. The banks ran with the blood, eggs and roe of our adversary.
The Morning After
The next day Kevin and I tried pawning the dead Suckers off to whoever might want them and found no takers. Our victims were later buried in my grandmother’s garden for fertilizer. Kevin and I never saw another Sucker in the Sebewa Creek. We attributed the cause to the Sucker’s higher intelligence and the fear of our superior hunting capabilities. Truth is we managed, in one night, to eradicate the entire breeding stock of fish in our part of the creek, ensuring no offspring would ever return. No big deal, there were still frogs to shoot, muskrats to trap, snakes to hunt and crayfish to dip, but those are all “another story”.
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