Harlan: Snakes and Horses – Chapter 3 of 6

Written by Harold McNeill on October 12th, 2010. Posted in Family 1940 1965


Red Sided Garter Snake

Photo (Web) This red sided garter snake along with hundreds of other species can be found by the thousands across the prairies. The snakes are great for scaring people.

Link to Next Post: Hunting Crows
Link to Last Post: Interesting History
Link to Family Stories Index

Early Summer, 1949

One thing that is etched in my memory from our months in Harlan was the millions (perhaps trillions) of ‘garter snakes’ that thrived in the grass and bush land throughout the area. Most of these little snakes measured between 8” and 18” in length and although not poisonous, they could sit back, hiss and flit with the best of their forked tongue relatives.

While many people have a built in aversion to snakes (probably stemming from that incident in Garden of Eden), Stan and I had no such qualms. We took great pleasure in chasing down those slithering, twisting, hissing and flitting reptiles, grabbing them by the tail and putting them in a pail or box for ‘later’ use. That use usually involved chasing the girls at home and school.

I never lost my love for these little garters and was, one time later in life, expelled from school for a day for leaving a couple in the desk of a young lady to whom I had taken a fancy. Seems our friendship never moved forward after that little episode.  Some girls just do not understand when a guy is trying to make a favorable impression.

Cousin Betty, of course, was no more understanding. I was sure that at one time Stan or I had sneaked up behind her and wrapped a snake around her neck and scared her senseless (well not totally senseless, she is OK today).

Betty has since told me I was wrong:

“I remember you and Stan and those stupid snakes and know you would have done something stupid like that if you thought you could have gotten away with it. You and Stan would never have dared, you were not that brave. Either I would have beaten you over the head or would have just told Warren. He would have given the two you holly whatever. Actually, the idiot who wrapped the snake around my neck was my step-cousin Richard Harwood.”

Just for the record, Betty was not the little saint she would have people believe. One time (before Harlan) when visiting Betty and Stan when they lived for a short period at Marie Lake, she, Stan and I were out riding one of the old horses. It was Stan’s turn to ride so Betty and I walked ahead. A little later we heard Stan coming down the trail so we hid in the bush beside the trail.

When Stan came by we jumped out and hollered “boo”.  The old horse reared back throwing Stan to the rocky trail, breaking his arm. Not a good move and we both got it from Uncle Warren and Aunt Liz. I was only seven and Betty about ten, so I am sure she must have talked me into that evil deed. I would never, ever have thought of doing such a thing all on my own!

Betty remembered that incident well (it still burned in her buttocks I suppose):

“Warren always bought old horses to feed to those miserable mink that would bite you every chance they got. The mink normally ate fish but if they “went off their feed” as it was called, Warren had to feed them red meat and one of the old horses would bite the dust. I was not happy about this as I always made pets of those old horses and then they would end up being ground into feed for those miserable mink. It really upset me.”

Harold McNeill

Link to Next Post: Hunting Crows
Link to Last Post: Interesting History
Link to Family Stories Index

 

(1825)

(Visited 218 times, 1 visits today)

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

 

Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman