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A Friday Memory You Won’t Believe

Friday - 04/16/2021 — This is one of those long memory stories of mine that you probably won’t believe, especially if you do some Googling about the topic. All I can do is relate what my grandmother told me.

Grandma was not a fanciful woman by any means. She was a farm wife. Stolid. Dependable. Non-nonsense. When my father was bitten by a rat in the corncrib, for instance, she dunked his whole hand in a jar of turpentine. I doubt she ever made anything up in her entire life. Which is why I believe what she told me about something that happened to her when she was child.

One summer when we were visiting on the farm for a couple of weeks, she saw my mother break up some crusty day-old bread, put it in a bowl, and pour milk over it. It was one of my favorite snacks when I was a kid. Grandma, steely-eyed, watched me spooning it up and told me that when she was a little girl, she liked to eat the same thing, but she usually took her treat outside to one of the outbuildings where she’d sit in the sun.

One day Fannie (my grandma’s nickname) came back from one of these jaunts and told her mother she’d made a new friend. “Uh-huh,” her mother said without much interest.

Same thing happened the next day and the next. On the fourth or fifth day, Fannie’s father happened around the corner of the building on his way to the field. He had a hoe in his hand. Acting instinctively, he killed Fannie’s friend, who just happened to be a four-foot-long cottonmouth moccasin. Fannie had been feeding the snake for the past number of days, spooning small bits of milk-soaked bread into its open mouth.

Go ahead, Google it. All the sites will tell you that snakes are carnivorous, they eat only live prey, they avoid milk, they won’t eat bread. I get that. I can’t explain it. All I know is what my grandma told me. And I believe her.

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