Yesterday's Magazette

12 – The Frogs Of Osceola County

The Frogs Of Osceola County

By Gary Dries

Young Gary Dries

It seems like it never rained on the last day of school. Our teachers would dismiss us shortly before noon. It was the 1950s in our peaceful little farm community in Northwest Iowa. It was late May. Always a warm, sun-drenched spring day.

For my pal Huzzy and me, it was opening day of frog-hunting season. The ideal spot was less than a mile from our neighborhood. It was in east Sibley, an abandoned gravel pit, used for swimming during daylight hours, cheap dates and misdemeanors after sundown.

The water was cool, it was still, and it was stagnant. It was moss covered in spots, with decaying limbs and wind-broken branches cluttering the pond, at waters edge. The sun filtered through, creating artistic patterns of sunlight and shadow. It was quiet as we arrived, save for the nameless birds breaking the silence with songs heralding the coming of the long hot summer. The frogs, camouflaged by nature, and ignorant of their place on the food chain, rested serenely on lily pads, eyes half-open, half not.

For me the selection of the club was somewhat incidental. Not so with my hunting partner. With Huzzy it was done with the same concentration and diligence as Mickey Mantle would use, moments before he hammered another American league pitcher into retirement.

This was the Huck Finn wilderness of Iowa, modern day warfare, with their high-tech gadgets, and rules of engagement [ROEs], were not in play. Sometimes the hapless frog got smacked with such enthusiasm that it was driven too deep into the muck to be retrieved, there to spend eternity, dead if he were lucky. The putrid slop and mud that flew up onto the arms, face and lily- white T-shirts of the hunters was a small price to pay in exchange for the character-building associated with such a manly sport.

With the arrival of the afternoon heat froggy would retreat to a cooler, less hostile part of the pond, and we would trek home with our take, usually fewer than a dozen keepers. Unlike the sport of fishing, where you can gently toss the babies back to age a bit, that option was closed, so frogging was not quite as spiritual as fishing.

Huzzy always let me keep them. He may have done that as a gesture of charity, knowing what a large family we were to feed. However, now that I’ve reached the older and wiser plateau, and remembering the awful gory, smelly mess of cleaning them, I’m less certain of his thought process.

I would clean [butcher] them out in the garage, present them to Mom, who would serve them at the next meal. She would refer to them as a side dish. I wasn’t clear what that meant, but I remember it sounded like an insult of sorts. Maybe not. Perhaps it was just some variation of the parental admonition of “at least he’s not out shoplifting and drinking beer.”

Do I worry about my grandchildren reading about me indulging in an activity that sounds as despicable as frog-whacking? I do not. In the people-whacking world they are growing up in, it is a non-issue.

Gary is retired from a 35 yr. career as a Certified Alcoholism Counselor. He now lives in Gresham, Oregon, near his daughter and 3 grandchildren. He has a collection of comments and “Letters To The Editor” published by newspapers in Orange County, Ca. He likes to read, bike, golf, and follow pro sports.



  1. Hi Gary, You brought back many memories of the great days of long ago. Frog Legs have always been one of my favorites. Dad and a neighbor, Ray Popkis, and others, would go hunting and bring home dozens and dozens of them. They are hard to find on the menu out here in California but remember one time going back for a HS Reunion and having them at the Cobblestone. They were good but not like Dad and later Mom fried them for us in Sibley. They would throw them in the frying pan, and quickly pop the lid on so they wouldn’t jump out, as soon as they got home and all us kids and all the hunters would come, sometimes 10/11:00 at night and eat till they were gone. After Dad died others would bring them and Mom would fry them for us. I don’t know if later, Doug, went to get them or not. Don’t remember which happens a lot lately. Jim Jungers forwarded your e-mail and I enjoyed your Blog. Thanks for the happy memory. I have lots of them of you and your family, especially Madonna and Shirley. I spent lots of fun times with them. God bless you. Have a great day. Pat

    Comment by Pat Gronewold Holtby — April 7, 2008 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

  2. I killed hundreds myself but damned if I recall ever being served frog legs. I had some once in Connecticut but I wouldn’t ever recommend them.

    Comment by Danny Dries — February 13, 2009 @ 11:44 am | Reply

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