06 November 2009

Sleepy Hollow Recollections: Paul Nolan Hyde--Canyon Boy, 1948-1959: #2

Here is the second of three short remembrances sent to me by Paul Nolan Hyde, a Utah resident, who lived in Sleepy Hollow for a decade in the 1940s and 1950s. This relates to a matter that most of us who've lived in the community and the Canyon for at least a few years generally have experienced.

Snakes in the Garden

The Canyon was filled with rattlesnakes, but during the ten years that we lived in Sleepy Hollow, I can only remember seeing one alive. That happened at the Old Cabin, just shortly after we arrived. I saw the snake trying to make its way down to the creek by way of the dry water course that ran from Oak Way Lane down to stream bed for a drink. I do not remember being afraid, but I think that I provoked my mother to that emotion when I announced to her what I had found. I remember my mother going out to see for herself and I think that some of the neighbors became involved in the fray. I do not remember if the snake escaped; I hope that he did. I have come to believe that rattlesnakes are, for the most part, mostly reclusive and seldom invade human space save for an occasional sip at a stream or a lake.

Garden snakes in the Canyon were abundant as well as King snakes and Queen snakes. These latter two were natural enemies of the rattlesnake. We did not kill these kinds of snakes, but we certainly made use of them. Hardly a month would go by during which a snake was not taken to school on the bus. We generally kept them in our jacket sleeves with their heads in our hands so that we could easily terrorize one or more of the girls during the thirteen-mile trip to Chino. We were gloriously successful. On Snake Days, we boys pretty much had the back of the bus to ourselves. Even the bus driver left us alone. I am not sure what happened to all of those snakes which were transported to Chino and then confiscated by teachers, counselors, principals, and custodians. My guess would be that there is a dearth of rattlesnakes within the Chino city limits even today.

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