The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 4, 2014

Mike Pound: Scammon fish fry back in action this Friday

I received an email Tuesday from a nice lady by the name of Jane Wilson.

Jane wanted to know if St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Scammon, Kan., was kicking off its annual Famous Fish Fry this Friday, seeing how it would be the first Friday of Lent.

Jane ended her email with this unsolicited opinion:

“And by the way, they do have the best fish fry. (I) have been to several and this is the only one I go back to.”

Well, Jane, you’re in luck. The St. Bridget’s Knights of Columbus Council No. 3316 Famous Fish Fry does get under way this Friday. I know this because Cecil Flood, who helps run the fish fry, sent me a flier about it last week.

I like writing about the famous fish fry. Ernest Hemingway supposedly once said, “Write about what you know.” That doesn’t work for me because I don’t know very much. I say, “Write about what you like.”

I like food. I like seafood and I like fried fish, so writing about the St. Bridget’s Famous Fish Fry is:

A: Easy.

And:

B: Fun.

Take the way the fish fry got its name. The story had been told many times before I first told it in this newspaper, so I can’t take any credit for it. The credit goes to the late, great Dan Willis. As many people know, Dan was the longtime morning announcer on KKOW radio. Back in the early 1980s, I worked at KKOW with Dan. I liked Dan. He was the sort of guy who treated people the way he would like to be treated. He was the sort of guy who made you think you had known him all your life even if you had just met him.

Back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, Dan — after hearing about the St. Bridget’s fish fry — drove over to Scammon and waited in line. When he got to the head of the line, Dan said, “I’m here for the famous fish fry.”

It takes anywhere from 15 to 20 people to make the fish fry happen every Friday during Lent, and most of those people have been involved with the dinner for a long time.

How long? So long that most of them can’t remember how long.

That’s a long time.

Volunteers spend the day baking potatoes, preparing wild rice and fixing German or cream-style coleslaw. They also batter and fry catfish, fix cod and fry shrimp — and somehow manage to whip up a big pot of clam chowder.

It’s the sort of meal that takes the sting out of meatless Fridays during Lent.

By the way, last year, after I wrote about suffering through meatless Fridays and my mom’s tuna fish casserole with the crunched potato chips on top and (I still shudder at this) her salmon patties, I got an email from Bud Morgan.

Bud grew up in Mobile, Ala., and said he, too, suffered through his share of meatless Fridays. However, I’m not sure Bud really suffered. In his email, Bud listed the sort of lunches he had to “endure” as a high school student at the Catholic McGill Institute located just blocks from the Mobile fishing docks.

“Such atrocities as Shrimp Creole, Crawfish Etouffee, Deviled Crab, Stuffed Flounder, Fried Oysters, Raw Oysters, Oyster stew, Crab Bisque ... just the memory of it makes my skin crawl.”

I think Bud, who was a longtime English professor at Missouri Southern, was being sarcastic.

The cost of either a catfish or cod dinner complete with a baked potato, wild rice or German or cream-style coleslaw is $8. The shrimp platter with the same choice of sides is $9. The St. Elmo’s Platter, which features catfish, cod, shrimp, clam chowder and a choice of sides is $12. You may also get a grilled cheese sandwich for $2, or a bowl of clam chowder for $3.

The dinners will begin a 6 p.m. in the St. Bridget’s Parish Hall and will be held on every Friday through April 11.

Do you have an idea for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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