Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Do you have a fear of snakes?  Some people, like me, are fascinated, while others can’t deal with even seeing a snake on TV.  My dad was one who could not deal with the sight of a snake.  So much so that when he was visiting his son, he asked him to remove a large stuffed toy snake from the back of the couch.  Yes, dad was terrified of snakes.

He wasn’t always in such a state.  He told us, as a young boy, he found a dead snake on the railroad tracks.  Being an ornery young boy, he took the snake and cut it up into pieces then offered to collect coal for one of the ladies in the town.  Back in the day, when times were very hard many people, would walk the railroad tracks and collect coal that fell from the coal cars as they traveled through the town.  Since our town was a coal mining town, there were many trains and it wasn’t unusual for people to use this method to collect heating and cooking fuel for their homes. 

Oh!  Back to the story.  I tend to get distracted easily.  The lady was glad to have help collecting coal.  However, coal wasn’t the only thing dad put in the bucket.  He hid the snake in the container under the coal.  This of course, caused the woman to go screaming into the house when she found the snake while transferring the coal to the coal box.  I guess even dads can be boys with a mischievous streak.

I think dad’s opinion about snakes came several years later when he and a friend were walking on the tracks, something he never allowed us to do as kids, and they came upon a snake.  This one was alive and active.  Dad’s friend pushed him and he fell, like Indian Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, face to face with the serpent.  I believe that was when things changed for him.  Funny, Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of his favorite movies, but he could not watch the scenes with the snakes.

Let’s fast forward 35 years or more down the road.  My dad had moved into a house his brother owned.  The house was a simple house that met his needs.  Dad believed in living modestly.  After settling in place, he decided to clear away some of the items that had collected on the front porch.  One such item was a roll of carpet that was pulled out before dad moved into the house.

Dad struggled to get the roll of carpet upright so he could walk it off the porch.  His intention was to take it down to the curb for trash collection.  Holding the carpet roll up, he once again came face to face with a live snake that crawled out if the end of the roll.  Apparently, the snake thought the carpet roll was a nice place to take up home.

I never knew how the carpet ever got to the curb, because the last time dad saw the floor covering it was rolling down the hill and, dad was dashing back into the house.  Definitely, he was one of those people who could not handle seeing a serpent.  He laughed when he told us the story, but I’m sure he did not laugh the day it happened. 

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