OLD TIMER TANGLES WITH A RATTLE SNAKE

 By Norris Chambers

                    We had been warned constantly to watch for snakes. We did watch for them and if I had seen the one that bit me, I would not have got close enough to get bit. I was five or six years old and one afternoon Clifton and I were playing on an old planter that had been left in high grass back of the barn. For some reason I decided to jump off into the grass on the north side. I had hardly hit the ground when I felt an awful pain on the top of my right foot. It felt like someone had dropped a coal of ire on it and was rubbing it in! At the same time I heard this loud, shrill buzzing. I didnít know much about snakes, but I knew that I had tangled with a rattlesnake.

            Without hesitation I started running toward the house. Clifton was close behind me. The three or four hundred feet were covered in record time and I burst into the living room shouting: ďIím snake bit! Iím snake bit!Ē  My mother panicked and yelled at Clifton to run to the field and get my dad. She had me get on my cot and pull my pants off. I saw then where I had been bit. There were two little red spots about five eighths of an inch apart on the top of my foot. My mother quickly wrapped some sort of belt around my upper leg and started tightening it. The tourniquet hurt almost as bad as the foot. 

            By the time my dad got there my foot had already started swelling and was turning real red. He got a pan of water and poured chlorine in it, saturated a rag, and placed it over the swelling. That was standard treatment for snake bites in those days. That was before they started cutting the wound open and getting as much blood out as possible. The tourniquet was released and retightened periodically.

            I remember hearing my dad say: ďIf he makes it through the night he will live.Ē  I donít remember much about that first night, but all night long the antiseptic pads were placed on my leg as the swelling and discoloration advanced toward my hip. I still remember the ugly shade of yellow, green and blue of my leg and the grotesque swelling that accompanied it from my foot to my hip. But I made it though the night and survived!  The chlorine pads continued for several days. Even now, if I smell chlorine, I remember those long and painful days on the cot.

            I found out later that I lay there about two weeks. I remember the first day I was allowed to get up and go outside. The first thing I did was run to the barn and climb up on the roof.  The barn roof was a regular hang-out for Clifton and me. We often jumped off of the low side of the roof, but I was careful not to jump into high grass.

            Clifton and I did arrive at a conclusion that was very false. After due deliberation, we concluded that since I had been snake bit that made me immune to future bites. Why not?  If you had the measles, you didnít have them again. Whooping cough provided the  same protection. And if you had chicken pox you didnít get it again.

            So when we saw a bird nest on the other side of the ditch that might be protected by snakes,  I was the one that should take the risk because I had been snake bit!  I never found out if I were immune because I was never bitten again. And on the other hand I could have just been lucky.

            For many years I have looked back on this ordeal and wondered if there was any way that I could find something of a ďfun natureĒ in it. So far I have failed and have not been able to say that any part of it was fun.

            The next day after I was bitten, my brother killed a rattle snake in the vicinity of the old planter and the high grass. Iíll never know if it was the one that bit me. I hope it was.

            If this story has a moral it is to just be careful and donít step where you canít see, and if you see a snake, donít step on it or near it! There is just no way to find FUN in a snake bite!