TOM BRYANT: Snake Tales: Seems Like Almost Everyone Has One to Tell
I've noticed a very peculiar thing about good old boys when they are standing around in a group.
Conversation never lags. If it does, which is rare with the crowd I hang with, all you have to do is bring up a snake story.
To prove it, the other morning as we were holding forth at our breakfast meeting of The Sandhills Rotary, even though the conversation was at its usual brisk, enlightening pace, I decided to throw in a snake story.
"Did you boys see the photo of the snake in last Sunday's Pilot that fellow caught ," I didn't finish the sentence before Morris Pennington spoke up.
"Snake! Snake! You call that a snake? Why, when I was a kid my mom found a snake in the pantry in our kitchen, loaded her shotgun and proceeded to blow the sidewalls out of the house trying to kill the blasted thing. I think the snake got away in all the noise and smoke."
Now Morris grew up in Arkansas, and they've got some big snakes out there. But I know Morris, and sometimes he will exaggerate. However, Bill Clinton did come from there.
Morris took a breath and before I could jump back into the conversational fray, Richard Dana took his place.
"We were frog-gigging one night out at Wood Lake when I saw what I thought was a little bitty snake nose poking just barely out of the water. Naturally I gigged it and pulled up the biggest granddaddy of a cottonmouth I've ever seen. He was as big around as my leg. We wrestled at least an hour and a half before I was able to get him off that gig."
Now most anybody else would have given the gig to that snake, but Richard is known as a persistent fellow. He wasn't about to let that cottonmouth get the best of him.
Jerry Haywood spoke up next. Jerry is a retired school principal and in our group probably has the greatest veracity. So naturally we all paid attention.
"I was just a kid and there was a pond on our farm where I used to fish and kind of hang out. One morning I was out there messing around and saw a pair of snakes all twisted and rolled up in a ball. As I got closer I saw that it was a king snake and a cottonmouth fighting. Well, the fight was over because that king snake was eating that cottonmouth. Later that morning, I checked back at the pond and all you could see was the tail of that cottonmouth hanging out of the mouth of the king snake."
Rich Warters, often the leader of our conversational group, was next into the breech.
"Well, I've got a Bob Lee snake story. Bob kept passenger pigeons out at the kennel where we work our bird dogs and the snakes were playing havoc with the bird population. First thing Bob would do when he got to the kennels was load the shotgun. If a bird got in the way, too bad. Sometimes it would sound like a small war."
I noticed that big George Atherholt drifted away from the group. Maybe my premise that all good old boys have snake stories doesn't hold true. George is from up north though.
I bet it's too cold for snakes up there. Probably that's the reason Rich had to borrow a Bob Lee story. He's from upstate New York. Their summer is July Fourth.
Maybe I need to do more research on the differences in snake stories, South vs. North. I made a mental note to myself: "Study Yankee snake stories."
About that time Madam President, Florrie Southerland, called the meeting to order. If I had just thought, I could have tested my theory and asked Florrie if she had a snake story.
The problem is, no telling how long the meeting would have been delayed. You see, she's from South Carolina.
Tom Bryant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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