Journal of a Living Lady #260
Nancy White Kelly
I was looking through old family pictures last week and found a photograph of a middle-aged man I didn’t know. The picture was black and white and was probably taken in the sixties. The heavy-set man had bushy, undisciplined eyebrows atop twinkling eyes.
Then I remembered. That was Jake, the one and only Lucius Jacob McKinney. I met Jake at a writing seminar in Minneapolis, Minnesota years ago. We sat together for a few classes and had conversations that ran the gamut from serious to down-right funny. Jake could tell some tall tales, taller than any building Superman could have scaled. I think the story about his Uncle Robert and Cousin Luke was just that, a story. You be the judge.
According to Jake, Uncle Robert would frequently take his son, Luke, to the Mississippi River bank. For the entire week-end they would camp and troll for catfish. After a particularly good day of fishing, the father and son decided to fry up a few of catfish for supper. Luke’s mother always sent along oil and meal for frying.
It took a whit to get the fire going, but when the oil was hot, Uncle Robert quickly battered the catfish and dropped them into the boiling grease. After a few minutes, the crust turned a golden brown, but there was something different about this batch. White bubbles formed in the oil and a strange odor filled the air.
Uncle Robert figured maybe the fish were polluted or sick. Before taking a chance that his son would eat something toxic, he took a small taste. Without a moment’s hesitation, he immediately spit it back out.
Along with white corn meal, it seems that Jake’s wife had sent along some Tide washing powder. According to Jake, Uncle Robert and Luke had the cleanest fish in town.