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Callaway twins play fishing trick on Chicago boy

I was 13 years old, living in Callaway with my family, including my twin brother.

Our local Lutheran minister was a recent arrival with his family from Chicago.

The pastor's nephew, Merle (last name with held to protect the "innocent") came to visit his aunt and uncle in rural northern Minnesota. (The "Sticks").

My twin brother and I invited him to go fishing with us -- a really new experience for him.

We dug worms in the garden and walked to the river two miles north of town.

Our intent was to catch minnows (chubs) to use as bait to fish for northern pike.

We baited hooks with pieces of worm and I soon caught a 2-inch minnow. Merle looked at it and said "you eat those little things?"

Realizing his lack of knowledge on the nature of our efforts I said, "oh yes we do!" and promptly put the minnow in my mouth.

When he looked back at Kenneth in astonishment, I spit out the minnow. When he turned back to me, I chewed a few times, swallowed hard and said "ah, good!" and rubbed my stomach.

He caught two to three minnows himself the next 10-15 minutes and promptly swallowed them! He apparently wanted to be "one of the guys." He said he could feel them wiggling in his stomach.

We then explained, briefly, that we could use them as bait to catch larger fish. We caught several 4-5 pound northern pike and went home for a "fish supper."

That evening about 8 p.m. the good pastor knocked on our door. He inquired of my father, who knew of the prank, if Merle's story of eating live minnows was the truth. Dad assured him this was common practice for Minnesota boys.

He went home, none the wiser than his nephew, as to the "way" of life in northern Minnesota.

The story goes on!

In 1960 I had a flight layover in Chicago. I looked up Merle's name in the phone book. I reached an aunt of his. I explained I was a friend from Callaway who met Merle when he visited years past, and gave her my name.

She laughed heartily. "So you were one of the boys who ate live fish," she said. And followed with, "we told that story to half the city of Chicago."

She said she would tell Merle of my call when he came home on leave from the Air Force.

He didn't call!

Happy fishing! -- Keith Bellefeuile, rural Detroit Lakes