In a person’s lifetime, animal species may come and go in an area. In my 69 years I have seen the arrival in northeast Texas of cattle egrets, armadillos, black bellied tree ducks, fire ants, caracaras, black buzzards, and several kinds of doves. Then we have the disappearances of horned lizards, most bullfrogs, and most toads, at least in the Charleston area. But the strangest disappearance is not an entire animal but just part of an animal. Evolutionists will tell you it takes millions of years for an animal to gain or lose a part of its body. But in my lifetime the lowly chicken has—– lost its pulley bone and gained not only chicken strips but Buffalo wings. Now that is scary. What if our Zack woke up some morning and his five inch tail was gone? I think next time I go to town I will order half a dozen pulley bones. When Carol, Larry, and I were little we would fight over this choice cut. Then after eating would have the game of two people pulling/twisting/ bending the V shaped bone to see which one could get the longest “leg.” Maybe in some communities the one getting the short side would win. Nevertheless, the winner made a wish and hoped it would come true. The pulley bone is also called the wishbone in many areas.
What happened to the wishbone, or pulley bone? Let’s do some checking. The medical term for the wishbone is the furcula which means “little fork” in Latin. The furcula is formed by the joining of the two collar bones, or clavicles. The main function of the furcula is to strengthen the chest muscles and help the wings snap back into position on the upswing during flight.
Over the ages many superstitions have been associated with the pulley bone. Johannes Hartlieb in 1455 told of using the bone for weather prediction. A goose’s wishbone was allowed to dry and weather was determined by which way the bone curved. Knights in Prussia waged war by the “advice” of the bone. In the 1600’s the bone was called the “merry thought.” I guess you made a merry wish which would hopefully come true. The term wishbone has only been used since 1860. Wonder when pulley bone came into use and how widespread is it? How many cooks still cut up a chicken the old fashioned way? Does anyone still do the pulley bone contest?
For the record, the main topic of discussion is the rains we have been experiencing the last few months. All area lakes are full and some about to overflow. The Cooper spillway is open almost bank full. People almost elbow to elbow cover the banks and many lines are tangled as they try to catch a large flathead catfish. Many have caught catfish over forty pounds. I fought a 48 pounder for thirty minutes in the swift current and finally landed him, only to find out he was foul hooked and had to be released. One of the luckiest, or most skilled, I have seen is 18 year old, Cumby senior, Justin Yonker. Justin has the lake record for the hybrid striper and last week laid claim to the rod and reel division for flathead catfish with a 60.20 pounder. The old record was 44 pounds. There is some discussion about does a fish caught “below the dam” count as a lake record. One paper states that bag limits and minimum sizes for the lake are in effect all the way from Highway 71 at the upper end to Highway 19 downstream. Was the part about lake records also meant to apply to those two boundaries? Several phone calls have been made with the usual runarounds like, “Oh the guy in charge of that won’t be back for two weeks.” Main artificial lures being used at the spillway seems to be five inch sassy shad, either black backed, yellow, or white.
Sunday afternoon we went to watch the action at the spillway, arriving at 4:50. Mike Burpo from Dodd City had just hooked a big fish. We sat on the benches by the restroom and talked with Marion Miller. Most big flatheads are landed within thirty minutes or an hour. After watching Mike for an hour and a half I just had to go around to the other side and watch close up. His Duckett extra heavy rod was bent almost double. The reel was a Shimano Curado with 65 pound test Spiderwire. The huge fish stayed almost even with Mike instead of the typical “heading down the river for Texarkana.” All of us knew that if it was strong enough to not come in that it would probably break the line if it ever started downstream. Sure nuff, at 7:50 it finally decided to use the current to its advantage and the line popped. What a monster it must have been. Most fishermen have not fought a big fish for three hours. As I walked back to the parking lot side of the spillway I was saddened to see all the trash folks are leaving. A glass beer bottle lay just inches from the rocks where it could be broken and cut some little kid. I carried it out and put it in the trash can by the bathroom. Come on folks, quit littering up our fishing spot.
Saturday, Larry Trapp, Jason Barnett, Zack and I fished Cooper Lake and went up in the river. At one place we tied our boat and soon Jason noticed a large turtle on the side of the bank. It was one of the endangered species, alligator snapping turtle laying eggs. The shell was about two feet long and after two hours it crawled back into the river. Any biologists wanting to gather the eggs so coons won’t eat them can contact me and we will go get them.
Years ago there was a comedian named Brother Dave Garner. One of his jokes I remember is about a man in court being questioned by a judge. The judge asked him where he lived. The man said he lived “here and there.” The judge asked him if he worked anywhere and he replied, “now and then.” The judge got tired of the smart answers and sentenced him to jail. The man asked when he would get out and the judge said, “sooner or later.”