A Can of Worms

My grandfather, Floyd Kintner, LL.B. Harvard Law School, 1914, was, after 1915 when he married my grandmother Mabel, a resident of Perryville, in Cecil County, Maryland. He was Trustee of Lunatics during the 1920’s, Receiver in Bankruptcy, Cecil and Baltimore counties 1933 – 46, candidate for Cecil County Judge as early as January 1939, then again in 1942 but not appointed until 1946 upon the death of Judge Constable. Later he was re-elected twice as a Democrat, and retired from the bench in June, 1957.

From the Frederick Md. News, 9 December 1955:

“Four Who Went Duck Hunting With Judge Fined $50 Each” BALTIMORE. Four men who went out hunting with Circuit Judge Floyd J. Kintner of Elkton, Md., pleaded guilty to charges of shooting too many ducks and were fined $50 apiece today. U. S. District Attorney George Cochran Doub, said he was convinced by statements made by Judge Kintner and by the four that the judge did not get more than three or four ducks. The daily bag limit is four.

Doub described them all as substantial, reputable citizens of Cecil County, where Judge Kintner presides over the Cecil County division of Maryland’s Second Judicial Circuit. No testimony was taken in the case but Doub told Federal Judge Roszel C. Thomsen that two federal enforcement officers observed the five men gunning from an offshore blind on Nov. 11.

The maximum penalty for a violation is $500 fine or six months in jail. “From personal experience in ducking,” Doub declared, “I think I may say there are no more than three State or federal judges here in Maryland who can hit more than four ducks a day and Judge Kintner is not one of them.” The four men who pleaded guilty and were fined: Donald C. Cole, 49, superintendent of the Perryville, Md., waterworks, Harry M Biddle, 44, of Perryville, Gordon T. Wilcox, Sr., 56 and Warren T. Quier, 53 of North East.

Some Perryville stories, like the above, can be associated with verifiable persons and events; matters of public record; stories about respectable people conveyed by other solid, respectable people; some, not so much. There is no real source that I have been able to find for the story of the boys who never returned from finding worms for fish bait. Yet my mother believes to this day that the boys lost their lives in Perryville or maybe Port Deposit, down by the Susquehanna.

It seems that the two young boys, brothers, went out to dig up some worms for bait. They found a likely spot, began to dig, and soon turned up a whole nest, not of worms, but baby copperheads, which the boys eagerly began to scoop into their pail. Both boys were repeatedly bitten and died.

So goes the story, which can be found in various forms in rural North America. It has in common with another class of stories told by my mother, about her family, only the tone: a certain prim satisfaction in seeing an ordinary turn of events gone desperately wrong.