(This is part of the Growing Up In Utah's Dixie series, by LaVarr B. Webb)


I visited the Old Mill Ranch often, working in the fields

and playing with my Maloney cousins. One day, we were

playing in the barn. It was a very large wooden structure

with a hay loft over the mangers where some of the horses

and cows were kept. The balance of the barn was just a

storage area for loose hay. This particular day, there was

no hay in the loft and only eight to ten feet on the floor of

the barn. We had tied a heavy rope to one of the large

beams that reached from wall to wall, tying the walls

together. The beams were more than twenty feet off the

floor, and were made of rough timbers sixteen or more

inches thick.


We would push off from the loft, holding to the rope,

and swing out over the hay. As the momentum of our

pendulum-like swinging diminished, we would drop to the

sweet smelling hay. It was great fun. However, we each

had to wait our turn, and I was impatient. I decided to find

another rope. While standing on the floor of the loft, I

looked around hoping to find one somewhere in the barn,

but I didn't see one. So, I walked over to the outer edge of

the loft, and looked out over the corral, to the corral fence,

and then down on the ground.


Right below me, I saw what I thought was a thick rope,

just the right size for swinging on. I jumped from off the

loft to the ground, reached for the rope, and was horrified

as it coiled up under my hand. My rope was actually a large

rattlesnake, and the shock I gave it, as I bounded out of

the loft, landing practically on top of it, was the only thing

that kept me from being bitten.


Before it could strike, however, I, with all of the ease

of an ungainly, but frightened bird, flew the ten feet back

to the loft. I don't know how I did it, but I did.