Catching some waves on the beach

The other day the mail brought a card from a friend and loyal reader, Ruby Harper.  I should acknowledge here that Ruby is a relative.  I’m not sure of the connection, but know there is one as we attend the same family reunion.  

Ruby wrote to say “thanks for the memories” that were stirred by the recent column on blue crab. She and her husband lived for a time in a coastal area where fresh crabs could be obtained. She remembered, with a bit of emotion, a day long ago spent with dear friends, newspapers spread on a picnic table, and a bushel of blue crabs.  

I showed her card to Delmer Scott, the sturdy captain and owner of the boat and traps we use to pursue his version of ‘the deadliest catch.’

He read the card, then proclaimed: “We sail at dawn!  The next catch is for Ruby!”  

This sort of declaration makes perfect sense while relaxing on the veranda on a pleasant evening, watching pelicans and a salt-water sunset.  By dawn the bloom had faded.  

Nevertheless—although we delayed until mid-afternoon—I donned the rubber clown suit, he fired up the Evinrude, and we launched. Battling four to six inch waves, enduring temperatures that plummeted into the mid-70s, relentless sunshine, laboring with the ever-present threat of being washed overboard two blocks from shore in water nearly three feet deep, we completed a grueling, 45-minute crabbing expedition for Ruby.

The problem then became how to get two buckets of thoroughly disgusted crabs to Villisca.  Delmer would rather eat moss than a crab that’s been frozen, but said he’d heard they weren’t bad if cooked first.  

We got out the Old Bay and boiled them. While doing this I decided Ruby probably wouldn’t want to deal with that many, so we helped her out by eating a few. Crabs tend to draw a crowd.  

It was over strong objections that I held back a dozen nice ones.  My wife picked them, froze the morsels, and if you’re reading this, Ruby, we have a package with your name on it.  If I don’t see you before, I’ll give it to you at the reunion.  

Speaking of vittles, you might be interested in trying smoked eggs.  Take a few ordinary eggs, place in a smoker and bring the temperature up to 225.  

Heating them too quickly can cause an explosion, which makes an awful mess in the smoker.  They’ll be done as the hard-boiled version in two hours, the difference being a subtle smoky flavor that penetrates the shell.  This may sound like a yolk, but it’s not.     

Roy Marshall is a local historian and columnist for the Red Oak Express. He can be contacted at

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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