Funny but True Stories of Growing Up in Arkansas – Snakes, Guns, and Shampoo

This is a story I wrote for my two sons.

To Heath and Ben,

I was in the middle of my summer vacation and was around 13 or 14 years old. Your papaw was away for a couple weeks working out of town. So, your Grams and I were holding down the fort, which involved taking care of several animals. We had a big, red and white-spotted appaloosa named Lulu, a bay thoroughbred named Bo, and a black quarter horse named Molly. We also had several dogs. Smoky was a longhaired German shepherd who looked like a wolf. Wheatie was an orange and white cocker with an attitude and Bubba and Sissy were a couple of apple-headed Chihuahuas. We lived in a brick house on seven acres just off highway 287 west in Springhill, Arkansas between Greenbrier and Conway.

Springhill and Greenbrier had a lot of cattle pasture, small rivers, rolling hills and farm ponds. Our seven acres was pasture with the fencerow being the only thing with trees except for the huge oak in our front side yard. I had helped your Papaw build a fence around roadside of the entire seven acres, as our property bordered a dirt road.

We had a gravel drive that circled behind our house and there was no garage. On that day during the middle of my summer vacation, I had been on my usual rounds. I’d wake up sometime before noon, gather my fishing gear and head to a farm pond on someone else’s property. By late afternoon, I had made my way back home and jumped in the shower because I was covered in dirt from sweating in the July heat and riding my four-wheeler with nothing on but cut-offs and tennis shoes. I was just getting my hair all soaped up when I heard Mom yell, “Heath, get the gun – there’s a snake out here.” I jumped out of the shower, grabbed a towel, and ran into Mom and Dad’s bedroom and grabbed the loaded revolver out of the western holster hanging on the corner of their headboard. By this time the towel had fallen off, so I threw the gun on the bed and wrapped the towel around me again and rolled it so it would stay put. With gun in hand I raced outside and said, “Where is it, where is it?” She said, “Over there by the big puddle”.

The big puddle was a garage-sized puddle that was located behind and to the right of our house. We never noticed at the time or thought it odd, but the big puddle had formed after a heavy rain, which is normal. The odd part was that the puddle remained and grew larger even though we were in a July drought. Even the ponds around our house were almost dried up. So, the big puddle was unbeknownst to us, an oasis for all the frogs, birds, and creepy crawlies living near our house.

As I looked toward the big puddle, I spotted what she was hollering about. A large black snake was facing us about 20 feet away with just its tail in the big puddle. I cocked and raise the .22 pistol, carefully aimed, and just as I squeezed the trigger a glob of soapsuds in my still soaped up hair, slid down my forehead into my eyes and burnt like battery acid, causing me to shoot just behind the snake. Naturally, the snake jumped forward after nearly having its hind end blown up, which naturally cause my Mom to yell, “Run Heath, the snake is coming.” With tears in my eyes and one hand on my towel, I began stumbling backwards while shooting at the ground in the general direction of the snake. This was complicated by trying to use my arm to wipe the shampoo away from my eyes with my gun hand.

I still had three shots left and by this time we were nearly on the back patio and it was too dark to see good and we could not find the snake or see it anywhere. So, Mom got in the little beige Renault and I climbed onto the hood – towel, gun, soapy hair and all; and she drove up to the puddle to see if we could find the snake. We never found the snake, but after Dad came home we did find out that the miraculous puddle was the result of a water line that apparently broke sometime around the thunderstorm.

So the water line was fixed and everyone lived happily ever after, except for the frogs that needed the water.

Thanks for visiting and God bless!

RHR

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