My mom comes from a place known as The Codroy Valley. ‘The Valley’ as it is usually referred to, covers the westerly coast of the island, and is rich in farmland. As a child, mom grew up on a farm, but when she was old enough to leave home, she moved to Stephenville, and became a teacher.
After my mom moved here, her family was not far behind. Her dad had a bad heart, and with the closest hospital in the Stephenville area, it became a need for him to live there. When they left their home in Codroy, my mom’s uncles and other relatives fought for the farmland, and one uncle in particular actually sold the land using a fake deed that he had done up. A large dairy farm company bought the land and turned the little homestead into a vast dairy farm.
This was during our camping days, and on one beautiful sunny Friday, mom and dad made up their minds to pack our camping gear, join my mom’s siblings who planned to go camping as well, and head for a small pocket of land that still belonged to the family and the dairy farm had not taken. By the time we got to the field, we noticed that several of our uncles and aunts had already arrived.
My uncle Mike, Aunt Joan and their two kids set up camp just a few feet away from where we were set up. My uncle’s old Chevy pickup was almost flattened to the ground, thanks to the homemade camper that it held in the truck box. The door to the camper stood just above the tailgate, with a small stairs leading to the ground.
First I have to say, back in the day, my dad was somewhat of a practical joker, and camping trips allowed him more victims than usual.
Anyway, that day, all us kids had to find something to do. While mom and her siblings sat in the field where they grew up and reminisced, my cousins and I ventured to a local marsh in search of frogs. We found quite a lot of them at the end of a boggy pond, and later that evening we returned to the spot, flashlights and buckets in tow.
Frogging was something we got pretty good at back in the day. Although those little reptiles served no use to us, we always enjoyed catching them and putting them in ponds back home. the thought of eating them was the last thing on our minds.
When the sun had set, we set to frog catching. I had a five gallon salt beef bucket, a butterfly net, and a flashlight. The frogs would almost freeze when you shone a light on them, so catching them was quite easy. In no time at all, I had about fifteen or so frogs in my bucket. I cut a few small holes in the cover, and brought my frogs home to the campsite.
When we got there, our parents were engaged in conversation, laughing and talking about old times. I set my frogs next to the car and went play with my friends. While I was gone, dad’s practical joke skills took off, and he schemed a plan to get my uncle Mike in a great joke.
Once my uncle Mike and his family had gone to bed in the camper, my dad took my bucket of frogs and sat the bucket under the tailgate of Mike’s truck. Whenever a frog attempted to jump out of the bucket, he hit his head on the plastic cover of the bucket. Imagine that with over a dozen frogs, it sounded like someone was banging on the door, trying to get in.
Dad quickly ran back to our tent and under the covers. Every time the frogs hit the cover, my uncle would open his door to see who was knocking on it. He must have answered the door about fifty times, and each time we heard him say “Hello, who is there, Hello???”, my dad would crack up laughing. My dad still laughs about that to this day.
Those old days provided us with so much fun. It seems that by today’s standards,the sixties and seventies were innocent and so safe. I can only hope to share half as many adventures with my son, so that he can have fantastic memories of his childhood, as I have.