Lightning Bugs!

LIGHTNING BUGS! Nothing short of magical if you lucky enough to see them as a child. Even as adult, still magical. At our old house with Interstate 37 as front yard, I can could the times I saw lightning bugs there. Three times. On the slanted hill that leads up to road. Two times was by myself, another time a few of us hanging out corner of Doss & Antelope and someone screamed "lightning bug!" and we all dropped what we were doing to try to go catch a few.

The firefly, or as I still refer to them, lightning bug, uses it's little light to try to find a mate, sort of like having a lighter for the lady's smoke at Dr. Livingston's in early 1980s. Hey baby, you come here often, what's your sign?' sort of thing. Ok, White Rabbit, Carousel, worked well for us guys, and works great for lightning bugs.

When I saw some for first time on side of I-37, I just seemed to follow them until they lit up, then try to grab them. Bootsy would have ate them, but she didn't catch any. I caught several and put in little cup. Took back to momma and Tommy to show off, and watched their faces light up like bug's little butt. I showed them off to anyone who was willing to look at them in the minutes I owned them. Then took back, let them go do what lightning bugs do, as momma said 'they only live for two weeks' so clock was ticking!

Same thing at Dr Livingston's later, clock ticking until last call! The lightning bugs I guess didn't want to be in competition with the endless, soulless, glow of mercury vapor lights from freeway though which easily drowned out their little light.

Was at Woolco one time as you know the routine, dad cash check on Friday from the AMC Dealership, pick us up, go to the fancy new McDonalds next to church on Staples just east of Gollihar, eat filet-O-Fish sandwiches (a Catholic thing) then head back to Woolco in Parkdale Plaza the other way.

If...Tommy & me had been good, momma would get us one toy each. Tommy mostly got AMT, Revell, other you build it type model, I would get Hot Wheels car or something similar. But! a NEW PRODUCT called "Lightning Bug Glow Juice"had hit the market!

Small bottle, you could paint this stuff on anything, then turn lights off and it would glow for maybe 30 minutes to hour. So got a bottle, and in our shotgun house, painted moon, starts, Saturn, Sun, as was (and still am) space guy. But I used it all up on the wall that separated the beds, Tommy & poppa slept in the front bed, momma & me the rear bed. So when lights off, wow! My wall lit up! Momma was not amused until she got up, turned light back on, and noticed could barely even see the glow Juice on the wall! I slept better though, looking at all those stars, planets.

Tommy screwed it up for me a few weeks later when he said you know they squish a lot of the little lightning bugs to make one bottle" so after that, when go to Woolco, I would cover the Lightning Bug Glow Juice bottles up with puzzle, or something, not that it would bring them back. I would learn later as big brothers do, he was kidding. Ain't got no bugs in that stuff!

As time went on, didn't see the little fellows, they disappeared like horny toads. We looked forward to going to Uncle Travis & Aunt Bessie's house, way out in country off Leopard and Starlight Lane. Out there lightning bugs abundant, but only if wind sort of still, and temps in the 60s-75 degree range. There cool rich house, had sliding glass back doors into a yard.

And while everyone sat around watching Hee Haw, Tommy & me slip in back and catch lightning bugs, many times 20-50 of them, in glass jar with holes poked in top. If we went out front, could look up and down street and even more.

Fast forward 50 something years later. One of my boys came in and said 'poppa, there are lightning bugs in field behind the house!' And off I went. Took flashlight as my little trick I learned was you get close to them when they flash, then turn light on, and can see them, not just grab in dark.

Missed several but it has been last century since I tried to catch one. Got one, little ass glowing, didn't hurt it, and walked back to house to show wife, then back to field to let it go. And off it flew. Was surprised to see many as been living here with the big field behind house 21 years and only seen them come out maybe dozen times. So if you see some, hope your memories of them as a kid same as mine.

PHOTOS: Photo #1. Lightning bugs all over the place, sometimes it is just best to sit back and enjoy mother nature's light show.

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Photo #2. This is the one I caught mentioned above, frisky fellow but playing possum here. He is holding onto a tiny piece of rye grass here.

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Photo #3. Same lightning bug I caught, he has dropped his piece of rye grass or twig, and every time I opened hand, would flutter wings like fixing to take off like he was a training plane at Naval Air Station.

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Photo #4. Behind our house is a large field, and in it, bats flying around, and of course, even at my age, I still like to catch froggies. This fattie wondering what all the commotion was going on and asked if I didn't want that tasty lightning bug. The froggie was chirping and skin was a odd yellowish color. We let him go near a big puddle of water since it rained heavily earlier that morning.

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Photo #5. Lightning Bug Glo Juice! No, not made from squished up lightning bugs as late brother Tommy told me in 1960s. And if our old crappy shotgun house was still there 2009 Antelope, chances are this stuff would still glow on the wall with my planets, moons, stars.

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