My grandfather built a weir at the sluice gate where water from the Delaware River came into an inlet at his farm. Occasionally he and one or two of the men at the farm would go down there and bring back a basket of eels. Some of those eels were as thick around as a man’s arm. I was morbidly fascinated by those slimy, wriggling, long-snouted creatures, but didn’t stay to watch as the men would pull out an eel and nail it to the front of one of the farm sheds. My brothers delighted, however, in describing in great detail the gory scene as the eel’s skin would be pulled off by the use of pliers. The eel would then be put into a large bowl with a heavy lid. The bowl would then be carried to either the well for storage, or later, into the kitchen to go in the new electric refrigerator. The eels were then fried for consumption by the men. None of the women would touch them! One particularly memorable time, the bowl of eels was put into the refrigerator, and Pop forgot to put a stone on the lid covering the bowl. Now, you have to understand, those skinned eels would continue to wiggle and squirm for quite a while after they had been declared dead, and it was necessary to securely contain them. Anyway, when Grammy opened the refrigerator door that day, she screamed and quickly slammed the door shut. The eels were wiggling all over inside the “Frigidaire.” Pop had to retrieve all of them and wash out their slime from the refrigerator. It was the only time I ever saw him do any type of “woman’s work,” and he wasn’t allowed to forget the incident for a very long time!


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