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

Part of the attraction in Never Never Land (Utah's Dixie) was the

adventure, climbing the mesas, rolling down the sand dunes,

swimming in the Virgin River, pulling rock suckers from under

the boulders of North Creek, and fighting rattlesnakes.

I found the rattlesnakes on ditch banks, in grain sacks, and

in the rock foundation of the school house. Some of the

rocks of the foundation protruded out from the walls, and

in the cooler days of fall and early spring, the snakes would

crawl out of the cracks between the rocks, and sun them-

selves on the warm shelves.


We boys would go to school a few minutes early, catch

the snakes on the rocks while they were still lethargic, almost

immobilized by the coolness of the night, and beat

them to death before they could escape back into the cracks

and crevices of the wall.


I was a bloodthirsty soul in those days, but actually

knew no better. Quivery thrills ran up and down my back as

I peered around the corner of the building to see if there

were any snakes on the rocks. The fearful anticipation and

the actual kill was almost intoxicating.


Later in the spring, as the days grew longer, and the

temperature inched up, the snakes became livelier, and

some were able to slip into the crevices before we could

kill them. We would hear the angry buzzing of their rattles

as they retreated and coiled up behind the face rocks of

the foundation.


I often wondered, again, with chills racing up and down

my back, what would happen if I forced my hand into one

of the crevices. Would a snake bite me? If there were

more than one snake in the void, would all of them strike?

How many bites would it take to kill me? Obviously, I never

found out.