2007.29.07 Loads of fun with Billy Bass and Sterlena

Written by David Green.


Anybody have a Big Mouth Billy Bass that they no longer want? In case you were wondering where the singing fish on a plaque goes when his owner is tired of the joke, the answer might be Texas. A seafood restaurant chain named Flying Fish has “adopted” over 300 of the  finned toys.

The Billy Bass soon-to-be ex-owner fills out adoption papers, turns over the fish and gets a certificate and a free catfish dinner. The fish now cover the walls and much of the ceiling of the Dallas location of the  eatery, with the former owner’s name and date of adoption written underneath.

Larry Richardson, co-owner of the restaurant, told the Lone Star Outdoor News that most are brought in by women. “Most of them ask us to please get this out of their attic-or garage, or house-and they all tell us, ‘If he comes looking for it, don’t tell him it’s here.’”

Now, I’m starting to feel sorry I didn’t get one when I had the chance. I saw one for sale at a yard sale for $2 earlier this year. The owner said it had never been used and she was trying to get rid of it. I would have been in good company if I had purchased it.

According to Wikipedia, comedian Jeff Foxworthy has said anyone owning more than three Billy Basses “might be a redneck.” Jeff himself meets the criteria, along with comedy pal Bill Engvall, who has four. Queen Elizabeth has one, or at least used to, unless she traded it for a catfish dinner on her recent visit to the United States. Another one unfortunately passed away in the recent downtown Wauseon fire.

I kind of like the idea of covering a wall with them. I don’t own a restaurant, so offering a catfish dinner is out of the question, but how about an autographed Observer to anyone turning in a Billy Bass? If you’ve got the bass, I’ve got the newspapers. If that idea fails to entice anyone, you’ll force me to have to go to Plan B.

Plan B is to adopt a 14 foot tall cow and move her to Fayette. Yes, I’m talking about Sterlena, the fiberglass mascot of the now-defunct Sterling Milk company. Back in April, when the Wisconsin-based company that has owned the Sterling dairy and associated convenience stores for the past several years  announced they were selling the Sterling operation to a Canadian firm, there was much uproar in the Wauseon community.

Some residents were concerned that Sterlena would be transported back to Wisconsin when Circle K took over, but whether or not she was included in the sale still isn’t public knowledge. The old owners had an office equipment and rummage sale a couple of months ago (I bought a Sterling wall clock) and now the former headquarters building appears to be unused with Sterlena (dare I say it?) cowering in a outside corner of the building. She looks sad and pretty lonely, and I intend to do something about it.

It really seems impractical to move Sterlena to Wisconsin. It would take forever because she’s hardly aerodynamic. You certainly wouldn’t be able to tow her at Interstate speeds. Besides, I’m sure the police would insist the trailer display a “Slow Mooving Vehicle” sign. I think it’s just a bad idea. Since there hasn’t been any recent concern shown on Sterlena’s behalf by the citizens of Wauseon, I think a “moove” to Fayette is in order.

And I know just the place to put her—in the side yard of my apartment complex. Since I emigrated to Fayette, it’s always been a bit difficult giving directions because I live in a group of rental units without a name. With Sterlena guarding the property, “Big Cow Apartments” seems a natural, don’t you think? “You can’t miss it. Take a right at the second street past the light, go five blocks, then take a left at the 14 foot fiberglass cow.” Who could possibly get lost now?

Just think of the visitors coming from near and far to see Sterlena. We could set up a gift shop with Big Cow merchandise: T-shirts, hats, postcards, miniature Sterlenas, all the latest knickknacks. You can bet McDonald’s and Starbucks won’t be far behind. Maybe even a tattoo parlor. I wonder if we’d need the property rezoned for agricultural use? And I wonder if a giant cow in the yard would make me a redneck? I’d better call Mr. Foxworthy. I just hope my landlord has a sense of humor.

So those are my options. Bass or bovine? Surf or turf? Stay tuned for updates.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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