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00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d78e0000We've been gathering your "big fish" stories here at KMUW. You know... the stories passed down through the generations that are true, but maybe not 100% true. Tune in on various weekdays through June to hear some local lore and legend. Or visit us here throughout the month to play the stories at your own convenience. Either way, don't let 'em get away.

A Big Fish Story: Saved By The Skin Of His Hook

My grandpa, Richard Cornelius Mathew Foley, was a tall, handsome, thin bloke with a head of wavy hair. He grew up in the late 1800s in a coal mining town in Oklahoma, where it was easy for children to get into things they shouldn’t.

Well, one day Richard came upon his younger sister playing with a bomb cap, like it was a toy. He swiped the cap away and ran to dispose of it, but it blew up in his hand, leaving a stump just below the elbow.

Although Grandpa tried prosthetic hands to replace the one that was blown off, he found a hook was less painful and far more practical. He learned to do everything he needed, and even became a star track athlete, running with likes of Jim Thorpe.

After Richard turned 19, he was sent to Venezuela by the Pure Oil Company, when they offered him a job to survey and map the area around Lake Maracaibo. Lake Maracaibo is one of the world’s richest oil-producing regions in the world, but when Grandpa got there, it was uncharted wilderness. Before he left, he was outfitted with his apparel and gear, including two Smith and Wessons.

During his travels, he noticed that the crocodiles there liked to cool themselves from the intense heat by digging into the sand to take a nap. All that would be showing was the crocodile’s tail. Grandpa got to thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I were to shoot at that crocodile tail?” He really didn’t think about it too long before the deed was done and that crocodile swung out of his sand nest and right after Grandpa.

He hadn’t figured on the crocodile being so fast! Startled, he sprinted off racing as fast as he could with a mad crocodile closing in fast behind him. Just in the nick of time, Grandpa grabbed a branch with his hook and swung himself into safety up a tree.

He did not ever wonder much more about it, nor did he ever disturb another crocodile sleeping in the sand. And he told us, “You’d be surprised how far up in a tree a crocodile can get.”