Swimming With Water Moccasinsby
N. Ray Maxie
allow me if you will, to tell a short snake story! Not that the snakes were short,
but this story is. I need to tell you about being raised in an area where I, as
a youth, sometimes, either knowingly or unknowingly, swam in waters infested with
the highly venomous and dangerous snake called a “Cottonmouth” Water Moccasin.|
tiny hamlet of McLeod is located
in far northeast Texas, in Cass County and only a couple of miles from the Louisiana
State line. It is about 14 miles from Atlanta.
There I spent my formative growing-up years in the very rural and backwoods area
near Rambo, Aberdeen, Huffines
and Kildare Junction. Mind you,
not by choice, rather by circumstance.
More communities long ago extinct
in that area were Bogus Springs,
Walton Center, Number Two and the United Gas Camp. All long gone now, but I remember
them well. Some of my schoolmates and other friends once lived in those communities.
From about age two through twelve, my family and I lived on the Rambo
Oil Lease. The only running water piped into our old “camp” house wasn’t fit for
drinking or cooking. So my two sisters and I, after school, frequently had to
carry heavy jugs filled with water from a nice, cool, bubbly spring. It was about
a quarter of a mile down the hill from our house. The fresh water spring was in
a small creek bottom area and we had to step across a little trickling brook on
our way to fill the jugs.
Just a few yards from our crossing spot there
was a good waterhole where water collected several feet deep; sometimes called
a fishing hole.
hot summer day when I was about ten or eleven years old, I was alone and returning
home from the spring with two heavy jugs of drinking water. I decided to set those
heavy jugs down and take a little dip in the waterhole. The water looked very
inviting and tempting to this hot and grimy barefoot country kid wearing only
cutoff blue jeans. So I ran and jumped in with a big splash, right out in the
After jumping in the water to cool off and swim a bit, I quickly
(and I mean quickly) realized that I had unknowingly entered water infested with
about five or six big, full size “cottonmouth” water moccasins. Those big mouth
serpents had been lurking at water’s edge in the grass and weeds where I never
saw them. Almost instantly, I decided that wasn’t the place I wanted to be.
Luckily, I must have scared those snakes as much as they scared me. I came out
of that waterhole in Olympic speed, unscathed, splashing and thrashing water to
high heaven. Although I must have been frightened out of three years of growth
and severely stunted by this experience, I survived. At full maturity and playing
four years of high school football, I was only 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed
only 240 pounds.
I grabbed up my water jugs and hurried on home mighty
thankful that I, all alone on that long and lonely trail, wasn’t snake bitten.
Never did I ever jump into that waterhole again and I usually walked way, way
around it, stepping mighty high and watching each step carefully.
before, until this very day have I ever told anyone about such a stupid stunt
I pulled, scaring those poor snakes like that. At the time though, as a young
carefree and thoughtless kid, it never seemed like such a stupid stunt. You know
how that goes don’t you? What often seems right at the moment, may turn out not
to be the right thing to do.
Today, older and wiser, I definitely know
that it was a serious, careless act. I certainly would never want one of my children
doing such a foolish thing.
You are the first to know about this after
all these passing fifty-five years. But, there were other youthful, stupid stunts
growing up in the NE Texas wilds. That’s a whole ‘nother story. Later!