Mother’s Day

Mom and Dad were married in the early 1930s, and man, they were a good looking couple. Dad was probably born out in Cherry County, Nebraska, way out in the sticks. He might have been born in Hyannis but doubt it. Dad grew up a cowboy and could ride about anything and make a rope dance. Mom was born in Denmark and immigrated into the States when she was really little. Mom’s parents settled in Arthur County, Nebraska, on a piece of ground north of Arthur, Nebraska. It was there in Arthur County that Mom and Dad met, and the rest is history.

Mom was almost 40 when I came along, and since she had raised two daughters already she was all practiced up. Or should I say practiced up raising girls but not boys. Two years later, my little brother came along so now Mom and Dad had two boys to raise. And to be honest if I could choose any Mom other than Mom, I’d pick my Mom first off. Mom was special.

Mom loved to fish for bullheads, big fat yellow bullheads that were caught in a spring fed Sandhills lake. Even in the summer, the water was cool to the touch, and the bullheads were downright good. Sometimes we’d dig worms before we left but normally we’d shoot some bird on the way to the lake. Maybe a blackbird or a Curlew would work fine.

Mom could bait her hook better than most men, and she could definitely cast as good as most men. We usually took something for Mom to sit on, while most of the time us guys sat on the bank. You didn’t have to cast out very far to catch a bullhead. The best place though was close to some rushes. Seemed like they liked rushes. Mom would set the hook, reel them in and get the hook out better than most men. If the hook was way down its throat, Mom would simply pull whatever it was hooked on out its mouth. Mom could skin them way faster than Dad or Mick and I.

But Mom shined on frying those bullheads up and getting them ready to eat. I’m pretty sure she dunked them in flour and fried them in lard. She might have used bacon grease but most likely lard. They were fried whole and usually were crispy. Darn, they were good. Since leaving Nebraska in the late 70s I’ve not had a bullhead that was close to a Sandhill’s bullhead.

Every now and then Mom would get the hankering for some chicken and noodles. Sometimes she had us boys catch the chicken, but normally Mom did the catching. She knew which chicken would taste the best, so it had to be a certain chicken. If Mom killed the chicken, she’d simply grab its head and wring it off like you hand crank an old H or M tractor.

Usually she’d pick an older hen for chicken and noodles because they were fatter. Fat adds flavor! She left the skin on, so she would dunk the chicken in boiling water and pick the feathers off. She’d get the chicken ready to cook and once cooked debone it. Now somewhere in here Mom made the noodles. Mom would use a rolling pin and flatten the dough out till it was paper thin. Then Mom would lay those strips of thin dough out everywhere to dry. After getting all dried up, Mom would cut it in strips. Those noodle strips were super thin and super narrow.

Then she’d cook it all up together, and voila, man, that was good. This is what we called “chicken and noodles” back in the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’ve eaten a lot of wannabes, but none compared to what Mom could make. Mom’s noodles were rolled thinner and cut narrower than any I’ve seen since Mom passed away.

I miss Mom’s cooking. I miss the times we caught bullheads with Mom wearing a dress. I miss the ice cream just before bedtime most every night. I miss yelling out every night “Good Night Mom and Dad”. I guess I simply miss my parents. I’m super thankful you raised us right.

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