My mother was famous for keeping an ax handy for snake nests. My Dad built a house in a new lot in Seaton and apparently was full of nests that we boys would uncover, then race to Mom for protection. She swung that baby as accurately as Carrie Nation, and with as much fervor. Looking back, they were most likely harmless garters but Marj took no chances. I don't think I've ever seen anything redder than the blood of a snake. If the sight of roiling dying snakes didn't scar me, then the sight of so many of them writhing in a hole would have.
Before I settled down and not long after I started working at the Mary, I lived for a time in an old converted box car not far from what is now Hawthorne Center. The old lady who lived there before me had a large strawberry patch, which eventually succumbed to neglect. The suckers must have liked fruit. This yard was teeming with the bastards, often turning the neighbor's white picket fence red after a mowing, and not because of the strawberries. They were so big, MINS (Minor In Need Of Supervision) my yellow lab, crashed into the back storm door trying to get back in. You could see fang indentations in the hard rubber wheels. We left that god-forsaken snake-pit and headed toward the center of town reasoning that they would get run over by the traffic before they'd advance as far as Grove Street. We were wrong.
There, the current Mrs. Blythe would enjoy snake wrangling with the kids. Here is a series of pics with a very young Mackenzie chasing, catching, and corralling snakes one weekend. Naturally they knew of my fear so it was great fun to chase me or scare in any way possible.
They would live and hide in the cracks of the railroad ties. If they didn't slither out they would stay in hiding, plotting for sizing you up for lunch. Here Kenzie shows little fear as she bends to peer into a crack.
The smart ones would escape from there two fearless snatchers into the pucker brush. Meanwhile I'd have camera in hand puckering myself.
Upon closer inspection, they spot their quarry.
If you look closely, you'll see that the current Mrs. Blythe has hold of two snakes, one in each hand. She is sick and demented.
Size matters. This is a bi one, as far as garters go. This is a King Garter.
They would catch them and put them in this aquarium to study or taunt.
This why I hate snakes, and the current Mrs. Blythe.
Everyone in a while they would slither past my place that was next to the creek that meanders through G-Burg.
It was apparent to me that Grove street was too infested for my comfort so I moved across the street to Chambers. The snakes followed me. Even found one that had crawled up and into a lilac bush that follows a sidewalk. Damn thing just climbed up as easy as you please and waited for me to pass by. We built two waterfalls and we found them all over the railroad ties and decorative rocks out there, too. But I only saw one in BFE. Two if you count Neighbor Tim's. I must return to that place that doesn't allow snakes.
I know now that 99% of all snakes are harmless and necessary for pest control. I read that in a book. And since I see more snakes than mice, then it must be true. But, dang, why make them so serpent-like? Hateful, brutish looking things. Even a Pit Bull will wag its tale and give you a smile. But not these filthy things. Neighbor Tim keeps one in an aquarium in BFE and feeds it mice every couple of weeks. There have been evenings I have, in my old Presbyterian way, given these poor dumb things last rites, and sprinkled them with Holy Beer. I think of Neighbor Tim as a most reasonable fellow, someone I like having on my side, a person of character, integrity, and if he weren't already a Marine, I'd say he was very Marine-like in his own way. But I will never fathom why anyone would want a damn snake in their house. Field, yes, a living room, no. Yes, I know they are dry. Yes, I know they are harmless. Yes, I know they are beneficial to the ecosystem. Yes, I know all God's creatures are blessed and sacrosanct. But you can have your God damned slimey, puppy-killing, acid-spewing, malevolent-staring, split-tongued spawns of Satan. I'd much rather prefer focusing on the nether regions of Eve.