My brother-in-law Dennis and I believe in worms. More than any fancy hand-tied fly or spinner, worms catch trout. We also believe that the worms you buy in the store are dismissed by most trout as “store bought.” We try to get real worms.
The business of selling angleworms to anglers is the ultimate grassroots business.
It is in the grass roots, after all, where you find your product.
We followed signs that read “Worms by the Dozen, $1.00.” The signs led to a small house. I leaned my head out the car window, and a short kid standing there asked me, “What do you want?”
“We want to buy some worms.” He did not seem to understand.
Then he remembered and bellowed, “Worms, Jimmy, they want worms! Jimmy!” I believed at the time that I was speaking with the company’s chief financial officer.
Jimmy appeared two seconds later dressed in a GI Joe outfit and said, “Where’s the pitchfork?” Jimmy was the company president.
“Use a shovel. They want worms right now,” said the financial guy.
“Shovels cut worms. We have to use the pitchfork. Brianna, where’s the pitchfork?”
“Sarah took it back to her house. She said it’s their pitchfork and our family can’t use it anymore.”
A look of concern came over GI Joe’s face but, after a moment’s reflection, he said, “Follow me.”
My brother-in-law Dennis and I piled out of the car and followed GI Joe, Brianna and the finance guy over to Sarah’s house. GI Joe rang the doorbell. Sarah, the principal stockholder in the company, answered the door.
“Sarah, we really need the pitchfork. These guys want worms.”
Sarah did not say anything.
“Remember, you’ll get your share of the money,” continued GI Joe.
“I don’t like to touch worms.”
“You don’t have to touch them. Just give us the pitchfork.”
Sarah gave us the pitchfork but refused to go with us. We all headed out into a vacant city lot. It had three or four craters in it already, and GI Joe started on another. It had been a dry year, and the pickings were slim. Brianna and the finance guy examined each lump of dirt. The crater grew wider and deeper. GI Joe got down to help look for worms in the clots of dry soil.
As we peered over the shoulders of the young entrepreneurs, I heard this:
“How many do we have?”
“We’re not finding any more.”
“What should we do?”
“We could divide five of them in half and call them whole worms.”
“Five? You only need to divide four.”
“Shut up,” and then all was quiet.
A pair of eyes looked up from the crater at me to see if I had heard anything. I pretended I had heard nothing. The eyes turned back to the ground. There was a moment of silence.
Then I heard: “Go ahead, divide ’em.”
I looked at Dennis to see if he had overheard the conference beneath us. He had.
I shrugged my shoulders as if to ask, “Do you want to do anything about it?” He raised his eyebrows as if to say, “This was your idea.” I scowled back at him as if to say, “You’re the one that says trout don’t like store-bought.” He pulled a dime out of his pocket and showed it to me as if to say, “You’re buying ’cause this is all I have.”
So we left Sarah’s Worms by the Dozen Company one dollar richer. Despite their questionable quality, it was one of these worms that caught my twenty-two inch brookie that Dennis later dropped back into the stream-supposedly by accident.
Rhinelander District Library director Ed Hughes is available at 715-365-1070.