The Gentleman Hunter




Cookie's Favorite Soup

Snapping Turtle

Cookie was a great hunter, so our family was treated to all sorts of wild game with our meals. We ate deer, bear, rabbit, squirrel, quail, turtle, and groundhog in a variety of forms from steaks to soups.

Our Hunting Camp
In Brockway, PA.

A Really Fine Day

Game was taken in different ways, but one of the most interesting was "noodling" for turtles. I never witnessed this process, but I have seen the scarred hands which resulted. The hunter walks a creek bank, poking a long iron rod down through the grass at the edge of the water. A distinctive feel and "thump" identifies the location of a delicious snapping turtle. The rod is probed around it's back, in order to ascertain that the turtle's strong-beaked head is facing into the bank. The noodler then closes his fist to protect his fingers, and reaches under the bank. If he doesn't get instantly bitten, he grabs the turtle by a hind leg and yanks out his prize.

As Cookie got older and wiser, he found a less risky way to get his turtles. He made friends with the Fish Market operator in Pittsburgh, who would periodically get one for him.

By this time in his life, Cookie was a railroad accountant working downtown. He was always well-dressed in a 3-piece suit, a felt fedora and clean white shirt. During these smoky days in town, he would even take a clean shirt for a change at noon, having rode the streetcar to work.

A Fine Father

Gentleman, Blacksmith
Accountant, Hunter

Picture if you will, this obvious gentleman getting on a downtown streetcar carrying a 20 pound live snapping turtle by a hind leg! As he stood with his free hand clutching the overhead strap, the other riders gave a wide berth to this man and his beast. Needless to say, he was the Talk-Of-The-Town on many occasions.

Our 5-points intersection at the bottom of Ivyglen Street, was manned by a policeman called "Big Red". Noone even cared to know this man's real name. Suffice to say that he was despised by young and old alike, for his Draconian enforcement of all laws real or imagined.

As usual after work one day, following a brief stop at Kunkel's Tavern, Cookie proceeded across the intersection to catch his ride up the hill. On this day, he had a turtle with him and Big Red approached with some sarcastic remark. Cookie waved the turtle in his face and said "watch out Red, he'll bite you for sure". Red scoffed at him, and pulled out his leather blackjack to poke at the turtle's head. In a flash, the expensive mace lost all of it's lead beebees onto the highway. If Big Red could have devised a reason to arrest my dad, he would have tried. And that would have been a scene to behold.

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