Snakes in the Sign Shop

It's summer, and the creepy crawlies are, well, creepin' and crawlin' and you'd better be careful. 

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Aunt Florine, my great aunt, could drive, though “Mom” her sister and my grandmother never did. And it was, Florine took the four of us — my little brother and I plus Mom and herself — fishing off the bank of the city water supply lake just north of Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

My grandmother was just an interested observer, and Aunt Florine an amateur angler at best, but by the age of 8 and 10, my brother and I were practically expert fishermen. Casting we were good at, and as we were fishing, a large cottonmouth snake slithered up on a log about 35 feet from our place on the bank and my brother had the bright idea of pitching his minnow in the snake’s direction.

His cast was accurate and landed just on the far side of the log, only slightly left of the snake, and the snake didn’t move. But when he slowly pulled that minnow up over that log the snake struck at the bait and then the fireworks began.

Teddy began to reel it in hollering all the while. I quickly looked around for a suitable weapon for when the snake made it to the shore, and found a three-foot piece of cracked and weathered 1 x 4 lumber that looked like it would do. It had a nail or two in it, but they were at one end and bent over, so club in hand I positioned myself where my brother had been standing while he continued to scream, reel, and back up.

When that triangular headed serpent came up on solid ground, brother I let him have it, and was having a ball bashing his head in when my brother yelled, “Let me hit him! Let me hit him!”

That was fair, after all it was his snake, so I turned and handed him my club and he stepped up close to where the seriously damaged snake lay writhing on the shore, firmly grasped my board, and rared back to give that pit viper one more good whack.

What neither of us saw was that one of those nails had snagged the clear nylon fishing line the snake was still attached to, so when he yanked that stick back, that serpent seemed to leap towards him and the race was on.

Board in hand, the little boy and that snake went round and round, and up and down that bank. Soon two elderly women were screaming and giving chase. But one 10-year-old rascal, who knew beyond any doubt that the fastest snake in Titus County couldn’t hurt anyone, could hardly watch for laughing so hard. None too soon, in a desperate motion, he pitched the stick at the pursuing moccasin and the snake dropped dead instantly, poor thing; bless its black heart.

Well, it’s summer and the snakes are out here in Texas, and I was reminded of that fishing fiasco the other day when our sign shop came under reptilian attack. My five-year-old grandson, Carson, sounded the alarm when he saw the head of a large snake down in some landscape rocks over by the edge of the sign shop’s front porch.

Our sign shop sits on nine acres of beautiful semi-wilderness complete with fishing pond right out my office window, and Carson and his little brother were fishing for perch with my son and his wife while I finished a little work inside. But soon I came running, grabbed a weapon, and when Sloan pulled the six- or seven-foot water snake out by his tail, I dispatched him for the crime of eating the precious duck eggs one of my little Mallard hens had been sitting on for two weeks or so already.

After the excitement, I helped them fish for a while, and when they left I went inside to shut down the shop. As I tried to exit the still open front door, I met that revived snake coming inside while I was going out, screamed like an 8-year-old, and gave him the right away. I knew I had done that snake some real damage, fatal damage, but there he was all 6’6″ of him wrapped around some sign frames near the customer counter.

When we opened Monday morning, none of our clients knew of the massacre that had happened just hours before right where they stood, and it was probably good they didn’t. Oh, it wasn’t the same snake, just his egg sucking twin brother, and hopefully we’ve seen the last of their kind for a while.

But, it’s summer, and the creepy crawlies are, well, creepin’ and crawlin’ and you’d better be careful. Sign guys work in all kinds of places, and whether wasps, snakes or spiders (don’t get me started on spiders), we can have our surprise encounters. So keep a close eye out, and watch where you put your hands and feet, or even fishing lure for that matter.

As the weather heats up, I hope your shop is doing well, all your visitors are human, and you’re having a really great month.

Rick Williams

Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business, Sign & Digital Graphics and GRAPHICS PRO since 1986. Contact Rick via email at [email protected]

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