TREASURES FROM THE BELHAVEN MUSEUM

Snakes, by and large, are not the most favorite subjects of people's devotion. Call someone a "snake" and you are likely to be in need of a personal injury lawyer, at the very least. For the last six millennia, humanity has had a generally negative opinion of our little slithering friends, whether they have lived in Eden or East of it. Most folks need no great persuasion to "crush the serpent's head" when given the least opportunity.

Eva Blount Way, the originator of this museum, was no exception. She liked to kill snakes--lots of snakes. Rattlesnakes were her favorite prey. By her own recollection, she killed an average of a half dozen of them each year for some forty years. (That's about 240 snakes, folks.) Her weapon of choice was an ordinary long-handled hoe. Several of her quarry are preserved and on display in jars at the museum.

Once they were dispatched, she would dissect them and study their anatomy, feeding habits and so forth. Local science classes were often treated to displays of her amateur laboratory expertise when she would share her vast knowledge of reptile anatomy with them. Apart from purely scientific knowledge, I'm sure that her hoe-wielding prowess instilled in them an awed respect for her property line, as well.

One particular slithering antagonist met a particularly appropriate end, one that did not involve the usually expert hoe-slinging skills of Eva Way. This snake, a common stealer of eggs from her hen house, had long evaded punishment and had pilfered with impunity until she hit upon a novel plan. Wooden eggs were substituted for real ones, and when the offending reptile tried to eat one, he could swallow but not digest it. He died of indigestion. Now, both snake and "egg" are on display for all to see, their tale being a fable worthy of Aesop's telling.

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #20

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998