author and dog Tim with grandparents Eula & Wayne Van Leer. "The
door beside my grandmother is the harness hallway where the incident
farm outside of McAdoo, Texas we
raised chickens for the eggs and for food. Often some of the hens
would seek out places outside the chicken house to lay their eggs
and finding them was always a chore. We had a "harness hall" in our
barn that was a narrow hallway about 6 ft. wide that ran the width
of the barn, perpendicular to it's length, in which the collars and
bridles and other leather harness items were stored for our four mules.
One day in 1948 or '49, when I was eight or nine, my grandmother and
I spotted a nest that contained several eggs on the ground in the
very back corner. My grandmother squatted down at the nest and reached
towards it to pick up the eggs and put them in her apron when she
spotted a snake coiled up only a few inches away. She yelled and jumped
back and retreated outside the barn. We always had "chicken snakes"
around the farm that would eat eggs and after calming down some, she
said that this snake was after the eggs and reentered the hallway.
She squatted back down on her heals and slowly reached to the nest
and captured a couple of eggs in her hand. The snake would move his
head backwards from the approach of her hand which would only be about
a foot from his head. After making 3 or 4 reaches getting two eggs
at a time she had them all. We went back outside the barn and she
told me to go up to the house and get the hoe so she could kill this
The snake was so deep in the corner of the hallway that she could
not get a good swing at it with the hoe, and missed it's head on the
first swing. Instantly it started rattling. She yelled again and we
once more retreated outside the door, but now knowing it was a rattler,
she returned and finally killed it. This snake was at least 4 ft.
long and a typical prairie rattler. It was just so dark in this hallway
she never suspected it as a rattler.
She was pretty shaken by this experience as it was 3.5 miles to town.
But there was no doctor in McAdoo (pop. maybe 100). Having no car
and having to get to town to get someone to take her the 24 miles
Texas where the nearest doctor was, would have perhaps proved
fatal for her.
© Neal Crausbay
January 22, 2005 Guest Column
See McAdoo, Texas