Mother once told me at age eight her older brothers had thrown a snake at her feet after they killed the creature. That, despite it being dead, coiled around her ankles. From then on she never wanted to see a photograph or drawing of reptiles. Later we daughters had inspect all newspapers and magazines coming to the house and hide the reptile photos with a sheet of paper or remove the page. Sometimes we put a note on the cover of the magazine that said, “Don’t look on page 12”.
My first fright with a snake was in Zoology class at Hinds Jr. College. The prof held a snake of some sort –obviously not dangerous. Each student was asked to feel the snake’s back to get a sense of it not being “slimy.” I broke into a sweat and hid in a far corner. Then it was my turn. I got light-headed and with the support of my lab partner, helped me move two feet nearer. By then the prof realized I couldn't get any closer.
As a kid I enjoyed reading comic books, I refused to read the back cover of characters like The Green Lantern and Superman. There, advertisements splashed across the full page, “Buy your own snake for $5 and we’ll send you your choice from the list below.” Even reading the list of available snakes wasn’t a girly thing. Today reptile farms still exist. Online you can purchase boa constrictors, tree pythons, milk snakes, corn snakes, racers, rat snakes, hog nose snakes. Costs run from $22.95 to hundreds of dollars. Choose your color and type; match to your decor.
In the tenth grade one of the early high school programs featured a worker from a Florida reptile farm. He placed on stage five sacks, the kind used for potatoes. The audience recognized the heaviness of the wiggles at the bottoms of the bags. We jerked upright in our seats and screamed, stretching our necks to see as much as possible as he opened a sack and dropped a specimen to the floor. It waved its tiny head around, then curled and lashed out at the stick the man was holding. “Now, look how the snake behaves as I walk near, how he senses where I am by raising its head?” He walks backward, away from the snake. “Notice the change when I back away, how he relaxes.” We thought the snakes were trained.