Big Fish

The Bismarck Tribune had a fun story yesterday about a 34 year old oil worker from Minot who went fishing early in January in the open waters in the tailrace below the Garrison Dam Power plant on the Missouri River and caught a State Record setting 20 lb, 42 inch long Burbot on an 8 lb test line. Burbot are freshwater fish in the cod family. It was the only bite he got all night. Burbot are sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobster. That was a huge fish.

I was really tickled by the fisherman’s plans to have the enormous fish “fully encased in a coffee table or display case ” in his living room. This guy is evidently not married, as he was out fishing at 11:30 at night when he caught the fish, and I don’t know many women who want something like that in the living room. It also made me think about what his heirs plan to do with the fish 50 years from now when he is gone and they have to figure out what do do with Grandpa’s fish coffee table.

What are some “interesting” family heirlooms you have had to contend with? What do you have that your heirs have will trouble finding a place for? What would you do with a stuffed and mounted 20 lb, 42 inch Burbot?

57 thoughts on “Big Fish”

  1. The coffee-table-fish, if it ever gets made, is something like a moose head on the wall, the evidence of something that a sportsman once brought home. But I think there has to be a difference, The head would indicate that someone actually aimed a firearm in the beast’s direction and the shot went there, this is an element of skill. The moose didn’t walk into a trap. The fish, however, was lured to the bait and took it herself. Yes, there’s a lot of skill involved in landing a 20 pound fish on 8 pound line, and I don’t want to discount that, but the coffee table itself is testament to the fish’s blunder, is it not?

    Like you, I’m guessing that the guy is single. He’s in his 20s too. Maybe both of these are conditions out of which he will eventually grow.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. The guy, as Renee noted, is 34. If at that age he is still unmarried, that may be an insight in itself. But I have known a couple of married men who retained their large stuffed trophies. It’s not always a sign of immaturity. Sometimes it’s just bad taste. Or ironic- I knew one guy with a stuffed warthog head. He hadn’t shot it himself.

    When I was young, I used to go duck hunting with my father. It meant a lot to him. He and a group of his cronies had a small hunting cabin on a lake in northwestern Minnesota. Their weekends up there during hunting season were highly ritualized. They would always stop at the same restaurant on the way up, they always played poker after supper.

    None of them could cook and their wives prepared and packed meals for them to heat. Nevertheless a surprising amount of the conversation centered around how self-sufficient they were and how much their wives resented them being away. My suspicions were that their wives were greatly relieved to not have to take care of them fo a couple of days.

    That same sentiment could be operative between this fisherman and a possible wife. She could be out with the girls.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Nothing like this fish, happily! I have a round covered glass dish that I’m told is a butter keeper – probably has an 8* diameter. It makes a good candy dish, but will probably not be with us after the next move.

    And photo albums – if I had heirs, albums and boxes and files of photos that no one will have any use for.

    I would have eaten the Burbot.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I would have in the past, until I read recently that eating one freshwater fish from US waters was no different than drinking contaminated water for a month.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I used to be able to do most of the dialogue from Harry/Sally by heart. I still think about this movie whenever I put envelopes into a mailbox and whenever I order something on the side.

        When wasband #2 and I got married it was a very small affair at a restaurant (just the two of us and the judge). But then a couple of weeks later we had a big party to celebrate and we had a large tiered coconut cake with chocolate sauce on the side.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I have been trying to cut down on the stuff in my house the last few years but I suspect I will leave YA way too much. I have a lovely china cabinet that is full of the china and crystal that my parents said I HAD to have when I first got married, but it also holds all of my Christmas dishes. I have plenty of other dishes because for most of my life, I couldn’t pass up a beautiful ceramic dish from Greece, or from South Africa or from New Zealand. I still use most of this stuff, except the china/crystal. I haven’t tried to get rid of it myself because I’ve seen all the stories that nobody wants this kind of thing any longer.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. An inherited stuffed fish, even one in a coffee table, would be easy to discard and good riddance.

    The “heirlooms” I inherited that have demanded the most from me have been the albums of photos and scrapbooks that belonged to my grandparents on both sides. My own parents never did anything with them but kept them moldering in a box in the basement. From an early age I displayed interest in the family history so I was the logical recipient.

    Over the years I have been engaged in organizing that material. Transferring it to more archival sleeves, identifying those people in the photos that only I, at this point, can identify, and uploading to the internet many of those photos to make them available to family researchers who share a connection. My mother’s mother, who was born in 1888, had scrapbooks of photos including ones of her friends and a few dating back to before the turn of the twentieth century. Using the names inked below the photos, I’ve been able to find other family researchers unrelated to us who appreciated copies of the images from her scrapbook.

    As to things our daughters are likely to have to deal with, there is much we treasure and they probably won’t but the biggest things will be my books, if I don’t do something with them beforehand, Robin’s fabric, yarn, kimonos, and more books, and all the pottery we’ve collected over the years plus the Japanese pottery she’s inherited and will inherit from her 101-year old mother.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I should add that Robin has an equivalent amount, if not more, of genealogical material from her side of the family and which she has been trying to organize and archive. As oldest children, we seem to be the designated family historians.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. My daughter in law has made it clear to her mother that she doesn’t want any of her dishes or stuff when she passes. I have china I hope my daughter may want. I am using my mother’s good china for everyday dishes. I got rid of her silver service and her cut glass punch bowl to coworkers who were happy to have them.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My maternal grandmother and her sister had a very coflictual relationship that lasted until they both died in their late 90’s. Their mother had a set of china canisters that both sisters wanted, but my great aunt prevailed and used them for years. One day, out of the blue, when she was in her 80’s, my grandmother got a large box delivered to her house, with the canisters in them. No note or anything. No explanation. My great aunt just sent them back. Around the same time she also set back to my uncle some memento he had given her when he was stationed in Korea in the 1950’s during the war. I think my aunt took the canisters when my grandmother died.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My mother kept so much old stuff from her parents and my dad’s parents, and I was the one who had to make the decisions about what to do with it.

    The County Historical Society was the answer. The Story County Historical Society and the Pipestone County Historical Museum took the following:

    *A complete set of pink flowered china, checked and chipped. They set the table in their museum/house with that.

    *The paperwork for my grandparents’ New Deal Farm Loan.

    *The carded wool quilt batting my mother carded herself.

    *The farm tools, including an ox yoke, that made their way across the frontier to Iowa.

    *My Grandma’s 1916 Senior Yearbook for Nevada (Iowa) High School.

    *The 40’s era Electrolux vacuum that was Grandma’s pride.

    *Tatting tools

    I do not know what I would have done without those historical societies.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. What a good idea! My dad gave a lot of my grandfather’s First World War stuff, like his gas mask, to the Rock County Veteran’s Museum, along with his own Second World War memorabilia.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. My father picked up several China tea cups and matching saucers when he was stationed in England during the war. My mother treasured them and never used them. We use them now for tea.

        Liked by 4 people

    2. The main thing I have contributed to historical societies has been photos, like a school photo from Monument School in St. Croix Co. Wisconsin, with all the students and the teacher identified on the back, a photo of the Barrett, Minnesota basketball team from 1923, and this photo of the Beulah, Iowa class picnic from 1899 with an accompanying newspaper clipping identifying the students and teacher:

      Liked by 6 people

        1. The original photo, an 8×10 glossy, must have been taken by a professional photographer. It was in one of my grandmother’s scrapbooks along with a newspaper article reproducing the photo, which had apparently been submitted by her cousin using another copy and with the identification of all the students. That cousin, Alonzo Burlingame, had an active interest in history and maintained a sort of museum in Froelich, Iowa called Burlingame’s Store. I believe one can still visit the store and much of it is as he left it.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t get too much of my mom’s stuff – 2 sisters and three granddaughters took a lot of it. I had a lot of unnecessary kitchen stuff (dishes, cutlery, serving dishes, etc) that went to Bridging. When I replaced several large pieces of furniture (recliners X2, rocking chair, sofa), that also went to Bridging. They were very appreciative of the donations.

    After moving Mom 4 times in the last ten years of her life, and having to deal with all of her “stuff”, I have made a concerted effort to rid myself of things that I know my family won’t want. I don’t want my survivors to say “Why did she keep THAT?” Plus, I don’t like clutter.

    The stuffed and mounted Burbot would be among the first things to be tossed.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Luverne, MN has a historical museum that has had a very capable administrator for years. Betty taught with my mother. My mother’s 100th birthday would have been last Sunday, and I know Betty was only a few years younger than my mom. Betty acquired a passion for nutcrackers and had at least a thousand in her home. I am pretty sure her kids were greatly relieved when she gifted them to the Rock County Historical Society. There have been other nutcracker collections gifted to the museum since Betty started this, and now the museum boasts one of the largest collections of nutcracker in the country. Betty still has a weekly column in the Luverne paper concerning historical happenings in the county.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. All my stuff can be donated except The Birds. There is some money in my will set aside for their care but the kid’s current living arrangements might not work for the humans. There are bird rescue farms that will take them.
    The trophy fish wouldn’t be welcome in my place.
    I’d probably try to sell it. It just so happens that Sunday night I began reading The Bedside Book Of Birds by Graeme Gibson. It’s a collection of bird stories. Some of them were a little disconcerting such as the recollection of Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), a contemporary of Charles Darwin. Wallace enlisted native Malaysians to capture Birds Of Paradise in a search for the PERFECT specimen. The caged birds all died within three days. “…and at length gave it up as a hopeless task.”
    James Audubon’s brag of shooting hundred birds a day as “a good day” took a bit of shine off his reputation, in my estimation.
    I understand these students of nature used the tools they had at the time. Thank goodness for advancement in film and photography!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. As some of you may recall, I had the dubious honor of traipsing from here to Aalborg with a big stuffed lake trout in a custom-made box in my carry-on luggage.

    It was a fish caught on Lake Superior by my father-in-law (the only fish caught on that miserable week-end of camping on Isle Royale), and which, according to our captain, Dana, was too big to be good eating. F-i-l complained bitterly, and suspected that Dana intended to eat it himself.

    Possibly to make up for having forgotten half of the food for the trip, including coffee for breakfast, Dana had the fish professionally mounted and sent to us several months later. I was visiting Denmark the following summer, so I was tasked with delivering the fish to f-i-l. He was surprised and overjoyed when he received it, and it was proudly displayed in his tiny drawing room for the rest of his life.

    Ten years later when I attended his funeral, the family thought I should bring it back to the states with me. I flatly refused. Fortunately his friend and next door neighbor, agreed to take it.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. When my mom moved a few years ago, we weeded through a lot. Unfortunately, we lost some photos in the process. The parlor grand piano (after some “not it!” discussions) landed at my brother’s house – his youngest wanted it and we all kinda knew it should stay in the family, having started its life with my dad’s parents and made several moves around Minneapolis.

    There are some smaller pieces my mom still has that will eventually be handed along to me or someone else: a heavy wool woven blanket that came from Norway with a great great grandmother, a Norwegian language bible that survived being carried around by a (some sort of great) uncle who fought in the Civil War for the union, some other tchotchkes.

    The piece of scrubby land in Hawaii (big island) that belonged to a great aunt – not quite big enough to build on, but comes with some great stories for dinner party conversation – is getting passed along to a cousin. We couldn’t quite bring ourselves, as a family, to sell it. And it made no sense to divide it among the five cousins in my generation – so it goes to the youngest cousin. 😎

    No big fish, no coffee tables, no taxidermy. Thank heavens.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I’m fortunate that most of my heirlooms are carried around in my head, and heaven only knows, that’s a mixed bag of treasures and crap.

    On mom and dad’s only visit here, mom had hauled with her a Russian, brass samovar that she had rescued from a a trash heap while I was in high school, as a wedding gift. She thought I’d like to have it since I had spent a year in Russia. That thing sat in our basement for thirty years, until I finally connected with some parishioner’s from Philip’s Russian Orthodox Church who could use it.

    My sister now lives in a small condo, about twenty miles north of Copenhagen. I noticed on my last visit that she still has a mounted head of some African antelope which hung in our home in Lyngby. Mom had rescued it from her place of employment, a small business that specialized in buying up dead people’s estates. When I asked her why on earth she had kept that, she told me it was shot on a safari by one of mom’s brothers. I was sorry to tell her the truth about where it came from, and that I was pretty sure that the safari story was a figment of mom’s imagination.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. When I saw today’s headline, I immediately flashed to the film by that title. Despite it flaws, I love that movie. Have any of you seen it?

    Also, I’m wondering whether or not you collected enough to pay the annual fee for our blog, vs?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I may have told this before, but maybe not. Twenty years ago when we did our first downsize from the home where we raised our girls and lived for 28 years, the only thing we had that anyone wanted, was the china we got when we got married. Both daughters wanted it. We had service for 12 so I gave each of them 6 place settings and purchased an additional 4 settings from Replacements Inc. They still each have 8 place settings, and still haul them out for holidays and fancy dinners. It’s fun to use them, but I don’t want them back!
    My sister bought the house we grew up in from our mom about 15 years ago. She sold it and moved to an apartment about a year after our mom died. There were boxes of unidentified sets and pieces of china that had been stored in the basement for years. I should have told my sister to just get rid of it and not tell me where it ended up, but I agreed to put it in our storage locker and I’d go through it. In addition to Mom’s “good china,” which was impossibly fragile and ornate, there was a set that had been painted by my grandmother’s sister, probably during the 20 years or so she lived in the St. Peter psychiatric hospital (my mom never mentioned that part). I still have several boxes to go through and have not disposed of anything yet, just repacked the stuff I definitely don’t want. I am saving one cup, saucer, and dessert plate from each of the sets I like, and so far still have a place I can display them and use at ever more infrequent family tea parties. I’ve been working on at least getting a smaller storage locker this winter, so final decisions are going to have to be made soon.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow Caroline. Do you know why your grandmother’s sister spent that many years in a psychiatric hospital? Back then, I imagine, it could just about anything. How tragic. What do you know about her?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I really hadn’t known anything about her, other than her name. My mom occasionally mentioned that her grandparents had terrible taste in children’s’ names. My grandmother was Buelah and her sister was Blanche. I also knew that the butterfly china was all painted by her and she dated most of the pieces with the year they were done. The whole set represented about 6-7 years of work, as I recall. Mom never mentioned where she lived or if she was married or had children. My second cousin on my dad’s side of the family is a certified genealogist and I asked her to do some research for me on Mom’s side. She couldn’t confirm that our long-held assumption that we were descended from John Adams was true; but she turned up the info on Blanche as well as our relationship to Brigham Young.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I feel sure my family once had a mounted walleye that my father cuaght, but it must have found a home or a trashheap decades ago, I have no idea what happened to it.


  18. my dad’s dad was a hunter and had deer head hanging on the wall when I was a kid I hunted until I was 10 or 12 in Dakota her pheasants and ducks. My dad could never stand fishing and while I have fish certainly nothing that I got respect anytime man, I do have one of those showcase tables. Mine is full of harmonicas and recorders Penny whistles in KC music jam breaks out if people want to get into playing shuffle back up on that stuff I can’t play my harmonica is in the house because the dogs howl the same as they do when police sirens go off, but I have my music jams and guitar night. One of the guys brings along a bag of harmonicas and pulls it out regularly , I had a friend who kept a aquarium as his see-through coffee table and had a good time changing up the contact. It was kind of fun for him. He was an interesting guy cause I was thinking of little ways to tweak his life. I think I mentioned on here once before that he used to fasten Civil War figures to the ceiling tiles above his bed, waiting for them to fall off and determining who would win though scrimmage and guessing when it would be over and the last piece would fall off the ceiling life can be fun. What the heck a fish table it’s just a fish table sticking over there next to the harmonica table

    Liked by 1 person

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