Daddy’s Stories

By Luke Boyd

Others had some elements of truth in them--maybe just enough to make the listener think they could be true, at least until toward the end of the tale.

He had a way of making an observation or turning a phrase that would catch your attention and make it easy to remember. I recall one such phase at one of our Fourth of July fish fries.

Our little country community where I spent my junior high and high school years got together every year for a big fish fry on July 4. There weren’t any public parks close enough to go to. Someone would scout around and find a place on the bank of the river or the shore of a nearby lake. Some would come early in the morning, eight or nine o’clock, bringing pickup loads of rough lumber. They would set to building a long serving table and benches all out among the trees. The fire pit would be dug and firewood gathered. A support for the big black wash pot in which catfish and hush puppies would be fried would be constructed. Later in the morning others would come bringing all sorts of vegetable dishes, salads, and desserts to round out the meal.

We were usually the only ones around, but this particular year we had selected the shore of a horseshoe lake near the Tallahatchie River, and another group had come in about fifty yards up the shoreline. Only they were not having a fish fry. The first thing they set up was a very large, black pot. I’d never seen one so big. It must have been five feet across and was so heavy it took several men to get it into position. They filled it about half full of water and started a big fire under it. Then, they began to put all manner of things in the pot. It seemed like everybody added something different. There were whole onions, potatoes, tomatoes, okra, and a number of vegetables we could not identify. The meats were equally varied. We could agree that there were pieces of pork and beef, whole squirrels, rabbits, and quail, and several other things we couldn’t name. I had been sitting around with a group of the men who were watching this operation and making comments about this communal stew being created before our very eyes. A late arrival joined our group and observed the activity for a few minutes before asking, “What in the world have they got in that pot?” My daddy replied, “Well, D. J., the best I can figure out, they’ve got everything in there from bull nuts to cooter.”

(Cooter was a local term for a turtle.)

Since these are my daddy’s stories, I’m going to try to write ’em like he told ’em.

(For more stories from “Coon Dogs and Outhouses V. 1” by Luke Boyd, go to or