Metuchen Edison History Features
In Old Metuchen
David Trumbull Marshall
Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930
(Second Edition)- (c) 1930
I never saw a rattle snake in Middlesex County, N. J.
I do not think there were any there.
We used to see plenty of garter snakes and water pilots and black snakes.
The garter snake is harmless enough and is by some considered beneficial to farmers on account of the mice it is said to destroy.
The water pilot one finds only in the water.
We caught one in the Mill Pond at Bonhamtown once which had a live frog inside of it.
We killed the snake and let the frog go.
Black snakes are numerous in New Jersey.
They climb over low trees and bushes.
They eat birds' eggs and young birds.
They grow five or six feet long.
They are black or slate color all over and for those who can see any beauty in a snake are very beautiful, with their graceful shiny heads and necks.
They can go very swiftly through bushes and grass.
A snake cannot go so fast over very smooth flag stones or asphalt for a snake proceeds by catching the strong crosswise scales on his belly, in the small roughness of the ground, so he must have something to take hold of.
In the book of Genesis it says of the snake, "Cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life."
Certainly every boy makes it his business to kill every snake he can get at, whether it be beneficial to farmers or not.
I caught a black snake once that had twelve eggs inside of it. The eggs were each about as large as the end joint of a man's middle finger. This snake I skinned by stripping his skin over his body as one would pull off a stocking. I filled the skin with sand and then dried it. I caught a black snake once when I was a boy and took it home. My sister was sick in bed at the time. I took the snake up to her bed to show it to her. I was holding the snake looped over my left hand when my mother came in and said, "Aren't you afraid he will bite you?"
I said "No," and started to tease the snake with my right hand.
Mr. Snake made one pass at me and buried his teeth in and through the webb between my thumb and finger.
I lost my nerve for a moment and dropped the snake. I had to crawl under my sister's bed and retrieve him. I afterward tied a long string to the snake's neck and let him go.
He climbed from the lower branches clear to the top of a tall maple tree on our lawn.
A black snake climbs a tree by lifting his head as far as he can, hooking his neck over a limb and then working his body up.
A snake cannot climb the smooth trunk of a tree.
Most country boys have the greatest string of yarns to tell about snakes. Many boys are full of the most absurd beliefs concerning snakes. I knew some boys once who insisted that if one were to put a horse hair in a barrel of water the horse hair would turn into a snake.
None of the numerous hairs that we put in water ever turned into snakes. I reckon we didn't have the right kind of horse hairs or the water was not right, or the Moon was not right, or something.
I caught a thing like a snake once. It was about a foot long and as large round as a knitting needle.
Maybe that was a horse hair snake.
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Lasted updated 6/8/99 by Jim Halpin.