Just off Thornton Street the other day I saw two boys, probably about 8 years old, sitting on an iron railing chattering and laughing . It got me to thinking about my old friend “Catfish.”
Those two Clovis boys reminded me of a summer long ago and far away when things were simpler (key word being “were,” not “seemed,” because they were) — me and Catfish on the back porch of my grandmother’s house having fried bologna on white bread “sammiches” and drinking Grapettes from glass bottles.
My grandmother has long passed on, the old house belongs to someone else, I don’t much like fried bologna these days, Grapette (a grape drink from the South) tastes like plastic now and friends like Catfish are few.
Surely, everyone had a childhood friend like Catfish. He was the guy who told me about the birds and the bees (I was 8 and shocked). He was the first of us to kiss a girl (except he called it “making out”). He was the first to smoke, the first to have a beer and the first of my friends to get married.
As kids we played army and ran through fields and stuff.
As we grew, Catfish developed that certain “whatever” that caused the girls to glom on to him.
For instance, one junior high Saturday afternoon we went to the movies.
“Let’s sit over there,” he pointed to a couple of seats next to a couple of girls.
We eased on over to the seats and he plopped right next to the nearest girl. About a half-hour into the flick I turned to see Catfish “making out” with this girl.
“Do you know her?” I asked as we walked out of the theater.
“And you just start making out with her?” I was amazed and laughing.
“Yeah, she wanted to.”
I was “just a friend” to a lot of girls in high school, including some of the girls Catfish dated.
One day I was hanging out with Leslie, a girl Catfish had recently dated.
We were just kicking back, talking, and she brought up her time with Catfish.
I told Leslie something Catfish had said that basically meant she was a girl of easy virtue.
“What!” Leslie abruptly went in her house, came out with her purse, got in her VW and drove off.
I had a bad feeling. I got in my car and followed.
Leslie drove to the Woolco store (remember those?) where Catfish worked in the shoe department. She marched into the store and made a beeline for the shoe department.
I saw Catfish standing there looking his shoe department best, wearing a tie. Next I saw Leslie pummeling Catfish with her purse and screaming at him.
We didn’t know the young woman Catfish married or what magic she possessed that enabled her to tie down our local ladies man.
The last time I saw Catfish was on his 30th birthday. We lost touch with each other after that.
This is the time of year that takes me back to a summer long ago, and I remember my friend.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: