I HAVE TOLD THIS STORY MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS. PEOPLE SEEM TO ENJOY IT. HOPE YOU DO TOO! IT WAS LATE SUMMER IN 1972 AND I WAS ON A TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA. I WAS VISITING A FRIEND OF MINE AT FORT BRAGG, NC. IN THE 82ND AIRBORNE. I SPENT SOME TIME ALSO IN MONROE, NC. I MET A GROUP OF YOUNG GUYS MY AGE AND GOT AN INVITE TO GO OUT TO A SPECIAL PLACE AND GO FROG GIGGING. IT WAS A EDUCATIONAL TRIP. I WAS THE WEST COAST CALIFORNIA BOY…. SO THESE GUYS WERE GOING TO CHECK ME OUT AND FIND OUT WHAT I WAS MADE OF. SO, IT IS LATE NIGHT AND WE ALL PILE INTO A VEHICLE AND HEAD OUT INTO THE DEAD CENTER OF NOWHERE. ALONG THE WAY I LEARNED WHY JACK DANIELS BOTTLES ARE SQUARE. THEY ARE SQUARE SO THE BOTTLE DOES NOT ROLL AROUND UNDER YOUR TRUCK OR CAR SEAT WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING! no joke. SO THESE GUYS WERE ALL CHEWING SOME “REDMAN” CHEWING TOBACCO. SO, HEY I’M ALONG FOR THE RIDE SO I TRY SOME. TERRIBLE ! BUT I STAYED WITH IT TO FIT IN. SO IT IS LATE, PITCH BLACK EXCEPT FOR THOSE STARS! WOW, THAT SOUTHERN SKY ! WE ARE DRIVING THROUGH THE WOODS AND FINALLY ARRIVE AT OUR DESTINATION IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. THE POND WAS CREATED WHEN A ROCK QUARRY HIT THE WATER TABLE AND FILLED UP INTO A BIG POND. WE HAD TO WALK A WAYS WITH OUR GUNNY SACKS, GIGGING POLES AND FLASHLIGHTS TO GET WHERE WE NEEDED TO GO. THESE GUYS WERE STILL CHECKING ME OUT AND WE WERE NOT INEBRIATED. WE WERE FLAT OUT SHIT-FACED. I TRIPPED OVER A LAND TURTLE, FELL DOWN AND IN THE PROCESS SWALLOWED MY CHAW OF CHEWING TOBACCO. I AM COUGHING AND SPITTING ON ALL FOURS AND THAT WAS IT, THEY LAUGHED LIKE A PACK OF HYENAS. I GOT UP AND TOOK A SWIG OF OLD #7 AND I WAS ONE OF THE GUYS FROM THERE ON OUT.
THE POND WAS MAGICAL. STARLIGHT AND MIST AND WE COULD NOT SEE THE OTHER SIDE. A WATER SNAKE CAME SWIMMING RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE OF THE WATER AND ONE GUY FLIPS THE SNAKE ONTO THE SHORE AND ANOTHER GUY STEPS ON IT AND CUTS OFF THE HEAD AND THROWS IT INTO HIS SACK. I ASKED WHAT KIND OF SNAKE IT WAS AND HE JUST SAID, ” DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT, WE WILL EAT IT WHATEVER IT IS. SO THE 5 OF US GO INTO THE POND/ SWAMP. THE TREES ALL HAVE HANGING MOSS AND THE FLASHLIGHTS ARE PICKING UP EYES IN EVERY DIRECTION AND THE SOUNDS WERE SOUNDS I HAD NEVER HEARD BEFORE. IT FELT LIKE A DREAM.
WE HEAD INTO THE SWAMP IN A LINE. I AM 4TH BACK FROM THE FRONT AND WE ARE WALKING ON A FLOATING MOSS BOTTOM SO IT WAS LIKE WALKING ON A HUGE SPONGE. AS WE ARE CROSSING, I ASKED HOW DEEP IT WAS UNDER THE FLOATING MOSS BED. THE ONLY ANSWER I GOT WAS…….. IT WAS A ROCK QUARRY ! WE WERE ABOUT HALF WAY ACROSS AND THE 3 GUYS IN FRONT OF ME HAVE BROKEN UP SOME OF THE FLOATING MOSS BED AND IT WAS GETTING WORSE. I HEAR THE GUY BEHIND ME AND HE BROKE THROUGH AND LOOKED LIKE HE WAS GOING UNDER. I GRABBED ONTO A FLOATING STUMP AND REACHED BACK AND GRABBED HIS ARM. HE WAS OK. THEY SAID I “SAVED” HIM BUT I REALLY THINK THEY WERE TRYING TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT SWALLOWING MY CHAW OF TOBACCO AND THEM LAUGHING AT ME FOR 15 MINUTES. WE GOT TO THE OTHER SIDE AND WE GIGGED A LOT OF FROGS. WE TOOK A DIFFERENT PATH BACK THROUGH THE POND ON THE WAY BACK.
ANYBODY THAT TELLS YOU GIGGING FROGS IS EASY, AIN’T BEEN FROG GIGGING WITH ME. WE GOT BACK ALRIGHT AND GOT THE FROGS DRESSED FOR COOKING. (tux but no tails) I can still hear that advertisement that was on every radio station, “HARDEE BURGERS ARE CHARCOAL BROILED ! over and over. Hell , that was 47 years ago ! I can’t remember what day it is but I remember that night like it was last week. I remember only one guys name and that was Steve Johnson or maybe Steve Potter. So I guess I do not remember any names. But I know it was in Monroe, North Carolina !! One guys’ mother put on a incredible feast for us. Frog legs are very good ! Southern Hospitality was no lie.