Saturday, January 29, 2011

It Never Rains Cats and Dogs…BUT
It Does Rain Fish.

By Robert E. Martin

"UNTIL three o'clock in the afternoon, the eighteenth of May [1928] had been like any other spring day on the farm of W. L. Doughtie, Edgecombe County, N. C. Then strange things began to happen. Dark clouds swiftly gathered overhead. Suddenly there was a heavy downpour. Doughtie, who had put his horse in the barn, was about to go into the house when something cold and slippery struck him in the face. He looked up. It was raining fish!

"The farmer could not believe his eyes. He called his wife. Behind her, the children crowded in the doorway. Spellbound, they watched the miracle. Hundreds of fish dropped from the sky. Down they came, like giant, cold flakes in a nightmare blizzard. They plopped on the ground of the barnyard; splashed into the rain barrel; smacked against the porch roof, the chicken house, the machine shed.

"As suddenly as it had started, the fish shower stopped. Rushing barefoot from the house, the Doughtie children waded into puddles, found them filled with little fish, alive and dead. They were from one and one half to three inches long. A plot which only a few days before had been planted in cotton was covered with them. The children caught many of the live ones, triumphantly carried them to the house in pans of water. They converted an unused well into an aquarium, where they kept a number of the creatures alive for weeks. Altogether, the fish storm had spread over three acres of Doughtie's land.

"That was four years ago. Doughtie told his neighbors of his startling experience. Though none but the farmer and his family had seen the phenomenon his reputation was such that his account was believed. But nobody could offer an explanation."

The story above appeared in the Popular Science Magazine in the July 1932 issue. It is confirmed by an article in the Tarboro, NC Weekly Southerner on May 31, 1928. The Southerner headline read:


300 Fish Picked Up On Farm W. S. Clark and Sons, No. 3 Township; Many Gathered And Brought to House by Children

According to the newspaper account, the farm belonged to W. S. Clark and sons. Mr. Doughtie was the farm manager. During the strange event "there rained down from the heavens five or six hundred black bass fish, about two to three inches long. … After the storm was over the children of Mr. Doughtie went out in the fields and picked up two or three hundred of these fish and brought them to the house where they were seen by scores of people."

The newspaper article concluded: "The Southerner has learned that the black bass fish when taken from the ground by Mr. Doughtie's children were alive and kicking."

Another Example in Wilson County

The Popular Science article also cited another similar incident in North Carolina:

"James R. Daniels, of 200 West 109th Street, New York City, is the man who saw a heaven-sent frog. Living in Wilson,[Wilson County] N. C. in 1913, he left his house for a walk after a heavy rain when he saw a dead frog on the sidewalk. A neighbor told him it had just dropped from the sky. Daniels laughed. He was still laughing when a small fish fell at his feet."

[This story was taken from The Weekly Southerner, Tarboro, NC; May 31, 1928 and Popular Science Jul 1932]