An old used car tire makes a wonderful thing for kids to play with. Sometimes better even than things bought new at the store. We used to roll them up and down that old dirt road, and sometimes turn one loose just to see how far it would go by it’s self. The road was slightly downhill in front of our house, and a tire will get up some really good speed so that it will go faster than the kid pushing it can run. It only takes a little bump or ridge in the sand to bounce it off course and into the woods or orange grove.
This was the case on one particular day, when my brother James was trying to make his go faster than anyone else’s. He was flying! Suddenly, the tire bounced about a foot off the road, and when it landed again, it took off right into the woods. With James chasing after it, the tire went crashing and bouncing through the small brush until they both disappeared from view. A few seconds later we heard him yelling. It sounded like he was scared and crying. What? James scared? Crying? Not James! At ten years old, he’s big, and mean, and tough, not afraid of anything. We just started to go see about him when he emerged from the woods holding one foot with his hand and hopping along on the other.
Yep! He was crying alright. Tears had created white streaks down his face through all the dust and dirt that had gathered on it. The dirt was usual, the white streaks and tears were not. We knew it had to be something pretty bad to make him cry! “What happened?” someone asked, “You step on somethin?”
“No, a rattlesnake bit me and I killed it.”
“You’re lyin’ let me see.” my sister Babe said. Sure enough, we all looked and saw the two puncture wounds on the outside of his right ankle. And his ankle was swelling pretty fast! It looked all red and puffy.
Our older brother Charles went in the woods and brought back the snake and tire. The snake turned out to be what is called a Pigmy Rattler. It wasn't very long and not much larger than a grown man’s thumb. It is said that these snakes can be as deadly as a full sized Rattlesnake.
When we got him home, (only a few hundred feet) Mom told him “Lay down and stop that crying, it’ll only make things worse if you don’t be still. You’ll be alright.”
She went in the kitchen and made a paste out of some kind of powder and vinegar, put it on his ankle and told him to just lay still till the swelling went down.
He got a little sick to his stomach for a while and maybe a little fever, but that didn't seem too bad.
I think the worst part for James was staying inside. He had to lay there on that couch for three days till Mom said he could get up again.