The Nightcrawler Project

By O’Ceallaigh:-

william-gottlieb-boy-fishing-with-stick-and-can-of-worms         Back in 1952, or so, we used to go fishing quite a lot. To fish, we needed Nightcrawlers.

Now for those of you who have no idea what a Nightcrawler is, or perhaps think it’s some sort of a vampire or something, I will tell you. It’s a worm! They are reddish pink or vermillion in color and grow to be anywhere from three to ten inches long. They live under ground and come out at night, crawling around in the moist grass looking for whatever it is that they eat.

That’s why they’re called “Nightcrawlers!”

They’re very good bait for fishing. I don’t know what it is about them that the fish like, but they do! If they see one under water they must think they’ve come across a fishy Tastee-Freeze stand or something because they will sometimes swarm to get that crawler!

My cousin Don, my brother Jim, my sister Joanne and I had a great idea. Bernie Anderson had a Bait Shop and sold nightcrawlers for about 25 cents a dozen. Now if you do the math, that’s about two cents apiece! Don learned that Bernie would pay us a penny each for all the nightcrawlers we brought to him!

A penny apiece!

Can you imagine the money we could make! Why, they were just laying out there waiting to be picked up! And we had the entrepreneurial spirit! We were going to make some money!

The first couple of non-school nights in our enterprise we worked our yard and came up with worms! Hundreds of them! The next morning Don took them to Bernie and came back with $1.35 for me! I had picked 135 worms! I carried that money around with me all day long trying to figure out what to spend it on!

The next weekend Don came with some great news. Moonbrook Country Club had a golf course! Golf courses had worms!! Lots of them! Don had gotten us some head lamps so we could pick worms with both hands.

Excitement abounded!!

Dreams proliferated!

If I could pick 135 worms on our side lawn, how many could I pick at Moonbrook where they just laid there waiting for us? Why I’ll bet I could pick a thousand!

Off we went.

We spent about two hours that night picking worms!

The cops came along and asked what we thought we were doing and we told them,” Picking worms!”

“Picking what?” was their incredulous reply.

“Worms! Nightcrawlers!”

I guess they thought we weren’t breaking laws so they headed back to their cruiser. I think they must have had too much to eat or something because they were both sort of holding onto their sides! Maybe it was just because they were laughing so hard.

It was about 1:00 AM when we got back to the car with our five gallon buckets. Together we had about five-thousand (yup, 5,000) worms.

Then it hit us. What was Bernie going to do with 5,000 worms?

We got antsy!! We had to figure out a storage system so we didn’t overload Bernie’s capabilities!

On the way home there was a nursery business with piles of peat moss out in front. Well, that was a great idea, but this was slightly after hours….

Hey, I was only twelve years old! C’mon now!!

Jim jumped out of the car, filled some buckets with peat moss, jumped back into the car, and we left.

You may say, “did he leave a note?”

I’ll tell you. “I do not have any idea if he left them a note!” I knew it was wrong, but I was just a kid!

We got home and put the peat in our parent’s large sap boiling pan and spread it out making a nice, dry, comfortable home for the worms.

Now, we were tired. We went to bed and slept in the next morning.

Don came to our place about noon the next day and we went to check on our investment.

Worms do not like nice, dry, comfortable living quarters! They were all dead.

All 5,000!

Odoriferous? Oh yes!

Seldom have I smelled anything like that! And in our Sap Boiling pan!

I believe my brother and I spent the next forty days scrubbing that pan at my mother’s behest. (Maybe less) Even then, I’m not so sure that it was ever used again for boiling sap to make maple syrup!

And, I remembered something I had heard either from the Bible or from Poor Richard’s Almanac:

the_holy_bible“Be sure your sins will find you out!”
(Numbers 32:23)

They did!

So ended The Nightcrawler Project.

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