Ronnie E. Wells

Ronnie E. Wells poses near his home on Water Street in Old Eddyville (1955).

It was a very hot day in July, 1955. As a 9-year-old boy awakening early that morning in my old hometown of Eddyville, I began to wonder what I could do for the day.

I decided to walk into town to see what was happening. As I walked, I met and greeted several people along the way. Just before arriving at my Dad’s gas station on Water Street, I met a friendly, elderly gentleman whom I did not know. We spoke and he asked me if I would like to have this fish that he had caught earlier that morning. It was on a string and looked fairly good size to me. Of course, at that age I didn’t know much about fish. I could only imagine how good a fish dinner would taste tonight — yummy!

So I replied, “Yes sir, thank you mister,” took the fish and with excitement, ran to the station to show my Dad. I showed my father the prized fish and explained how I received it. A frown came over his face and a response of, “No, we don’t need that fish.” Filled with disappointment, I turned and walked away. Then I had an idea, if my Dad doesn’t want it, I bet someone else would love to have my fish.

As I continued to walk, I asked several other fellows if they would like to have my fish — free, no charge! Unfortunately, they all replied with the same answer, “No, thank you.” By this time, I was starting to wonder if my fish was a “good fish” or a “bad fish,” I had no idea which. Still I had hope, so I continued my search.

Sure enough, behind her house hanging clothes on the clothesline was good ole “Miss Mae.” I just knew she would want my fish. As I approached her, I held up my fish and said, “Look Miss Mae what I brought you for supper tonight.” Like my Dad, she frowned and said, “No, thank you Sonny.” Again, I was rejected.

Even though I was somewhat downcast by this time, I continued searching until mid-afternoon. Just as my hope began to fade, I saw in the distance a good friend of mine. He was a couple of years younger than me. I hollered, “Hey Jim, hold up a minute.”

As I walked closer to him, I held up my fish and loudly said, “Man, look what a monster I have here.” His eyes grew big and he said, “Yeah, I wish I had one like that.” So I thought, here’s the winner. I told Jim since he was a good buddy of mine, I would give him the fish and he could take it home to his mother for supper tonight. He was brimming with excitement, and thanked me profusely, as he ran home to his mother with the fish.

Little did he know that I had already asked his mother, “Miss Mae,” earlier that morning and she had said, “No!” As he hurried away, I inwardly chuckled and wondered what his mother would say, and imagined the expression on her face when her son, Jim, presented her with his fish.

Many years have since passed, and I still do not know the answer.