Crawdad Thunder Dome
My family moved to Little Rock in 1975. We lived in a modest three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home in the suburb of Shannon Hills.
At that time, TV was still just a few local channels and kids spent most of their time outside. After Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo were over my siblings and I headed out to play, so Mom could watch her soap operas.
Homes in my neighborhood were sporadically being built and my street had several wooded lots and creeks at both ends.
The creeks were hang outs for the kids of the community. Each creek was a different size, so we would say let’s go to the big creek or the little creek and everyone knew which one we were talking about.
These areas were the scene of dirt clod fights and King of the Hill battles on top of large dirt mounds. The fights would always end when someone was bleeding or threatening to tell their mom.
These were also the stages for a spectacle I liked to call the Crawdad Thunder Dome.
We would bring five gallon buckets down to the creek to catch crawdads, or as some may say, crawfish or mudbugs.
When our buckets had a good number of crawdads in them the largest out of each batch would be set aside.
A makeshift arena of rocks and sticks would then be constructed in which we would place the two largest crawdads and they would battle to the death.
Sometimes we would mark one on its back with a permanent marker and make wagers on which one would win.
The winner of these gladiator style matches would be released back into the creek to fight another day.
This was the unwritten rule of Crawdad Thunder Dome.
Or at least it was until one particular day, when one of the girls from the neighborhood decided to boil and eat the winner along with the rest of her batch of crawdads.
I learned two very valuable life lessons that day. The first was you shouldn’t be shocked when someone breaks an unwritten rule; not everyone plays by the same rules even if they are written. And the second lesson I learned was even though you win a fight, it doesn’t mean a thing. Someone bigger than you can come along and decide to boil and eat your ass.