(This column was so great I had to reprise it.)
I am the greatest mushroom hunter in the county and I say so without equivocation; in fact the best in Greene and the eight contiguous counties, yeah even all 92 counties.
Zeke "Blind as a Bat" Bitterman said, "He's the best I've ever seen." Johnny McDaniel, who rode Mac's bus with us on occasion testified to the loafers at the Calvertville Store that, "Far and wide Vandeventer's reputation is firmly entrenched as 'the best mushroom hunter in the world'." "Truffle hunting pigs in France are humbled in his presence. They grunt reverently at the sound of his name," stated Woody Stem of Sponge Bob Rectangle Pants.
Repro Bate, local lore expert and gasconader extraordinaire and expert on fungus finding, extolled the virtues of my hunting prowess in an interview with the editor of the monthly journal, Mushrooming in the Busseron Bottoms. He said, "I have never seen a better mushroom hunter than Larry Vandeventer." Now that is high praise coming from such an expert especially an unsolicited report.
As with fishermen, some fungus fellows don't live in Honesty, IN if you know what I mean. Trust Repro. He knows.
Elihu Root who lives along Goose Creek, was overheard telling Spike Hunter that in all of the annals and lore of "Shrooning in the Midwest," my name is listed in the pantheon of greats. My mushroom hunting stick has been retired and now hangs from the rafters of the Mushroom Hunters Hall of Fame in Toadstool, Indiana.
Each year about this time, Marcus Mildew, the editor of the Fungus Times, published in Toadstool, organizes bus tours of the area to show wannabes the locations of the good hunting grounds. The drivers always stop at my house where riders sit in reverential silence as they quietly intone "the story" and relate my greatness. Humbly, I feel compelled to get on the bus, accept the adulations, shake hands and autograph pictures of the largest mushroom ever taken in America, Mort "The Monster" Morel. I took Mort over in the hills north of Calvertville in the spring of '65. The picture alone weighs six pounds and eight ounces. It has to be printed on legal size paper to accommodate its height of three feet four inches and girth of 42 inches at its widest point.
I never tire of telling "the story." I couldn't bear the thought of eating Mort so I had him stuffed and he is on permanent display just beneath my retired hunting stick in the Hall of Fame.
I would like to hear some mushroom stories from you readers -- tales, lore or truth -- I will decide. I believe that my dad could find mushrooms in the middle of a gravel road or on a wooden bridge. I wish I could hunt with him again. I wouldn't care if we found any or not, just to be with him would be enough.
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville, graduated from Worthington High School and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168 or ding me up at (317) 839-7656. He has written four books about his experiences.