If I start talking about a telephone used for fishing, there are a few that wouldn’t have a clue what I’m talking about.
But it would also prove they aren’t from Smithwick.
A telephone is actually an electrical generator box that was used with the old-timey crank telephones.
For whatever reason if you were in the lake and you possessed one of these boxes and you dropped a couple of wires over the side of the boat and started cranking on telephone, for some reason the fish (only catfish) would come to the top of water and take a short nap, while others would be so excited to hear from you that they would almost try to jump in the boat with you.
With a good boat driver and a good net man, a boatload fish would be back at dock in a matter of minutes. Therefore it would be thought by some people to be an unfair advantage over other types of fishing. But for some people it seemed like a fun, sporting, fishing adventure.
This really wasn’t suppose to be a story about telephoning fish. That just isn’t really something that would need to be talked about with the way people can be so touchy anymore about things that aren’t the norm.
Instead, this is about a way the kids around our place could make good money if they were willing to work for it. It was more of a game than actual work.
This is what would happen. My mother had a very large glass bowl. I most remember her using it to soak pinto beans in overnight. On special occasions, when we had company over, the bowl would be brought out almost filled to the top with water. The fishing telephone with a couple of short wires would also be brought out and the wires submersed. Quarters, Fifty Cent Pieces and Silver Dollars would be dumped in the bowl. Someone would start to crank the telephone. Cec would show us how to reach in and get the money. That man had a very high tolerance for pain and the ability withstand electrical shock. He would make scooping the coins out seem easy.
After demonstrating what to do, all the kids would then be given chances to make some money. Most kids would try but few would ever succeed. I learned that if I slid my hand along the edge of the bowl, I could get to the bottom and grab the coins. That made the others want to get the next turn. But just sticking your hand directly in the water was never going to work.
Then we would stop cranking the telephone and start cranking the ice cream freezer.
Kids just don’t get experiences like that anymore.