Snake-popping: A Country Skill

*****To readers:  a new blog post is at our A Good Place blog. It details the song, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”  It’s the song that spawned the book.

As I’m doing readings from A Good Place, I’m amazed at how many people haven’t heard of “snake popping.”  In Chapter 12 of my new book, there’s a hilarious story about it.  Below is a true story from my friend, Margaret Crowe:

“Alice was a true farm woman.  I spent nights with them, too and when the chickens made a “ruckus” in the chicken house she and grandpa would jump up and run out to see what was wrong.  Grandpa was terrified of snakes and would “hold the light:  a huge old flashlight that must have held ten batteries, inside the door while grandma went inside to roust out the chicken snake.

She was fearless, would take the snake by the tail and “pop” him like a whip to kill him.  One night I woke up to their getting shoes on and they allowed me to go with them with the admonition to “stand back out of the way”.  Grandma went into the hen house and grandpa held the light.  Sure enough she appeared with a four or five foot long chicken snake in her hand, grandpa hurriedly backing up as she came out the door.

With the old flashlight spotlighting her in her gown she swung the snake around above her head a couple times and yanked back to pop his head – and the snake slipped out of her hand straight at grandpa.  It wrapped itself around his leg trying to get enough traction to get away and he threw the light into the air, let out a blood curdling yell,  shucked his long johns, snake and all and took off for the house emitting a cloud of curses.  Of course the snake got away and when grandma could get up off the ground where she sat laughing she gathered me and the light up, we went inside and the incident was not mentioned again for a long time.  To my knowledge the chickens were on their own after that, I certainly was never aware of another snake hunt.

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