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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 30, 1934, Image 69

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1934-12-30/ed-1/seq-69/

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forking Êûr°Ma\\ %rouqk College
by SelLirug
'Rattlesnakes '
Mary if illiam* and ''Bolivar." Mary was a little nerv
ous about doing this', but Bolivar, being quite bar in
lets and friendly, didn't mind a bit.
DON and Mary Williams wanted to go
to college, but they didn't have any
money. Their predicament was not
a new one. but what they did about
it probably sets a record. They re
sorted to snakes!
They went first to the college dean.
"I can only advise you to use your brains,"
this kindly man said in concluding the inter
view. "Think. Create an idea. Ideas are more
precious than jobs. You aie bright-looking
youngsters: I'll be looking for you back."
Not negotiable, that advice, but inspiring.
Mary's mind began working. She pointed
out to her brother that Phoenix. Ariz., their
home, attracts lots of tourists, and that tour
ists have money to spend. She and Don need
ed money.
"What'll tourists buy?" Don wanted to know.
"Novelties, Western novelties," said Mary.
"Wc live on the desert," countered Don.
"We have nothing novel but scenery. And
rattlesnakes." This last was a sort of despair
ing afterthought.
"Well, scenery's too plentiful, so we'll sell
'em snakes," Mary shot back.
And did they?
Well, you ask Dean Wvman of Phoenix
Junior College if Don and Mary Williams
haven't been prize students! He'll swell in
pride for them.
No, the tourists didn't buy the snakes aa
MARY and Don reasoned further than that.
Don killed a rattler, skinned it and
dropped it Into a pot. They boiled it two hours
and all the flesh dropped off the skeleton.
There, revealed, lay a long white flexible back
bone. and it easily broke into vertebrae seg
ments. Mary strung them and made an ex
quisite and unique rope of beads.
That was the beginning of the end of Mary's
and Don's depression.
They look like carved ivory, those reptilian
beads. With just a little bleaching solution
added, they come out of the water a gleaming
white. With just a little dye added—if a cus
tomer wants it—they turn into a rich amber
or red or green.
The white ones are most popular. Alter
nated with crystals or stone beads of varying
colors, the beads delight anybody who admires
jewelry at all. And as a Western novelty they
can't be beat.
Don didn't realize how much girls like beads,
but he did know where many lovely semi-pre
cious stones could be picked. Right in his own
front yard, which is 3 miles across and
includes Squaw Mountain. The desert hills
are laden with stones of every conceivable hue,
the same stones about which rattlensakes crawl.
It is inexpensive and easy to cut and polish
If Mr. Williams, the father, who is a Phoe
nix postman, was downhearted because salary
cuts and such had evap
orated the fund for his chil
dren's education, his sadness
has been offset by prtde.
"You can't tell me the
future of America took*
gloomy!" declares he. "Look
at my kids now—they're average and they're
usine their heads. Better than the old folks
art! They'll be running the country soon."*
Don is studying to be an engineer. He fig
ures there is plenty of new engineering to b·
Mary is entirely too pretty to last long at a
business woman—she 1c about the most demure
and charming co-ed you could Imagine—but a
Phoenix corporation has already offered her a
vacation job.
Don if ill in m s illustrates one of his methods oj killing snakes.
This brother and sister
make handsome necklaces
from the reptiles'vertebrae,
the Arizona tourist trade
buys them, and the money
goes for books and lab fees
One nipht Mary stepped off their btu h step, and as her left
touched the proiltul she heard thai terrible warning. Coiled
there, 2 feet away, tvas the snake, ready to strike.
Rattlesnakes had ever
been the bane of the
Williams household.
One night Mary step
ped off their back step,
and as her foot touched
the ground she heard
that terrible warning.
ΛΙ was in my shack, 75
feet away." Don tells,
"and I could hear that
rattler whirring. Nobody
ever mistakes it. It's a
sien of deadly danger. I knew he must be
fc big one, wherever he was in the darkness."
Mary is not a hysterical sort of girl, for
tunately. She stood still a moment—then In
one jump landed back upon the doorstoop, In
a flash she was inside and had the back light
OILED there, 5 feet from where she had
stepped down, was the snake, an immense
thing, ready to strike.
She went around the house and got a garden
rake. With this she held the reptile until Don
came and killed it. This was snake No. 1 to
be "sacrificed" for the feminine love of beads.
"I was mad at him anyway, for scaring me,"
says Mary. "I took a malicious joy in cooking
bim. His vertebrae were fine, big ones, too."
Incidentally, snake's meat is said to be κ
appetizing when it is cooking as chicken. It
smells and looks delicious, just like chicken or
turkey's breast.
Mary and Don have never corralled nerve
enough to taste it, but plenty of people have.
The Indians have known for many years. They
have no scruples against eating a snake, save
where their religious worship of the reptile»
forbids. There is a company in Florida whiclj
cans rattlesnake meat and does a good business.
One hot day another snake came up into
the Williams yard. It made straight for the
water faucet. That snake was thirsty, and
water was dripping there.
Don beheld him with awe (but from a re
spectful distance·. It wasn't a rattler. Don
wasn't sure what it was. But he knew it was
6 or maybe 7 feet long. Its coloring was
yellowish, with big. round splotches of brown.
Then Mr. Williams came along and laughed
at Don. saying Κ was a harmless gopher snake,
and to let It alone.
Don and Mary, snake gatherers, are never
theless obedient children. Therefore, Mr.
Gopher 8nake, doubtless remembering that
dripping faucet, adopted the Williams yard for
his own home.
"All Summer he loafed around here." Den
said, grudgingly. "I guess be cleaned out the
rats and gophers and such, but he made kfe
miserable for me. He was always oozing out
from behind a rock or a box or something and
scaring the sox off me. I'm never sure at a
glance whether a snake's a rattler or not. 1
don't love any of them."
Mary echoed his sentiments. So did their
motlter. It's quite true that a gopher or bull
snake (two names for the same thing) le as.
harmless as a cat. But who wants ft snake lor
a house pet?
MR. WILLIAMS says he isnt wire whatever
became ot Bolivar (which they named **'
bum, but he has his suspicions.
One day Mary came running to her mother
and dad in the living rom. saying. "Look, look!
Isn't this odd?" It was odd. She held some
glistening white snakes' vertebrae, and the
formation of each was such that it looked
exactly like a ram's head.
Tiny things, {.mall enough to flt in a thim
ble, they nevertheless had the eyes, the home,
the nose and other features of the male sheep,
as if exquisitely carved by some Lilliputian
Now the rattlesnake vertebra doesn't look
like that. It has, very aptly, a prong or ham
that looks exactly like a vicious little sword/'
curved and sharp of edge. Mr. Williams knew
that. Prom that day on he never saw poor >
Bolivar about the yard -again, either. "My
young uns are smart," says he, and gTins.
Thus you can buy either ram's head or saber
beads from the Williams sister and brother.
Bull snake or rattler beads. The collegians have
no thought of going into the venture on a big
scale. Snake catching is Just a hobby, but a
hobby that pays. If they can ride their hobby
through college, well and good.
Periodically Don puts on his old clothes and
goes out into the wild desert a hunting. Up
around Cave Creek Dam, 20 miles from home,
he has found a plentiful supply.
Near the dam lives an old desert dweller
called the Cap'n. What he doesn't know about
snakes seems negligible. The living room and
bed room of his shack are "papered'' with
rattler skins.
ONE day he happened into Phoenix and was
visiting the Williams home. About 2 p.m.
he learned that the youngsters had started
making beads of snakes' backbones, but tbfct
Continued on Fijteenlh Page

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