Bob Mount’s article last week about the venomous and non-venomous snakes in Alabama reminded me of the hundreds of snake stories from my youth in Evergreen in south Alabama.

Before we got an actual swimming pool we swam in a washed-out bend in Cane Creek about three miles out from town.

Most of our information about snakes — and a lot of other things — was distorted by ignorance or misinformation.

When you consider that the older boys gave us instruction about snakes, it is a wonder that we survived our Cane Creek experiences.

One of our initial lessons was that “snakes could not bite you underwater.” This was standard ignorance that led to the following scene at Cane Creek: Younger boys wading and swimming in the creek. Older boys would arrive shouting, “Moccasin in the water! Moccasin in the water!”

The younger kids would immediately rush to the deepest part to get underwater to avoid the deadly snake bite. It didn’t take too long before the youngsters figured out that this was yet another “lie.”

There were more, including this one I think Bob touched on this one last week. It had to do with the “hoop snake,” a snake that could coil into a hoop to chase you then sting you with a poisonous thorn on the tip of its tail.

And there was the coach-whip, a black snake that could and would chase you down, then wrap itself around you and whip you with its long tail.

Obviously there was a need for lectures about snakes to replace the ignorance and misinformation, but it never came in my generation.

If the truth be known, we “learned” about sex and other things the same way we learned about snakes.

As time went by and I became a parent, I would attend groups formed to discuss the need for sex education.

Each time a majority would vote against sex education programs. After a while I figured other parents did not attend the same Cane Creek school for snakes and sex that I did.

Obviously there is a better approach to sex education nowadays. Lord knows, there has to be, what with all this openness about diversity.

It is interesting how the mind can wander from the ignorance having to do with snakes to the ignorance having to do with sex and other subjects.

Sex doen’t mean the same thing that it used to, and a lot of other subjects have also changed.

So much has changed since the Cane Creek days. Somehow we grew up, and I guess somehow the young people of today will grow up. It didn’t take us too long to figure out that  snakes can bite you underwater, but that was simple.

It does seem, however, that the young people of today have a tougher row to hoe.

There is so much to figure out, and so little time in which to do so. Sometimes I think the young of today do not have Cane Creek moments for reflection.

Formal education is so significant, but there is much more to education than going to school. Sometimes you have to think back to your Cane Creek moments, and you can figure out a lot of things.


Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at