; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thanks to the Gator

I recently received an interesting anecdote. It's neither supernatural or crypto-related...but entertaining IMO:

Hello Sir,

I have a story told to me by Uncle Joe not long before he passed away. He wasn't my real Uncle. In fact, most people called him "Joe Juke" because when he was younger, it was said that he was a good dancer and could do so for hours on end. I've heard many tales about Joe. He certainly had an interesting life.

Back in the time after WWII, most men worked for a lumber company in the Big Cypress swamp here in Florida. Joe also worked for the lumber company for a time after he left the Army. He said that his crew would gather cut cypress logs to transport to the saw mill. Joe was raised on the swamp and knew it well.

Now Joe may have been a odd character, but I have never known him to lie. Other people would say the same thing - that Joe would always tell the truth and that you could believe his words. Because of this trust, he was like a confidant for anyone who wanted advice. He'd sit there in that big Adirondack chair on his porch, light his pipe and listen to whoever wanted to talk to him. He'd patiently wait for the entire story - then think while puffing on his pipe. After he pondered some, he'd then offer his advice. And if he added a story or two to his answer, you'd best take him for his word.

One afternoon I was sitting on Joe's porch steps cleaning my fishing reels. He was sitting in his big wide wooden chair drinking a cup of coffee and puffing on his pipe. I heard him say "won't you look at that" and was pointing toward his picnic table in front. Laying on top of the table was an orange rat snake soaking up the sun. Joe mentioned that he'd not seen one of those for a long while. I could tell he was getting ready for a story just by the way he was puffing on that pipe. By that time, one of Joe's neighbors joined us on the porch.

Joe started by saying that one day in the swamp a huge rat snake snatched a hold of his leg while he was gathering cypress logs. He said it was the biggest rat snake he'd ever seen. Those serrated teeth had gone through his overalls and latched onto the "meat of my calf." He said he tried to grab it but it was too strong and wrangled itself out of his grip. The rest of the crew had moved out by then, so he was by himself. Joe reached into his pocket for his jack knife, but dropped it into the muddy swamp as the struggle continued.

Then all of a sudden a gator shot out of the murky water and bit the rat snake in half. Joe now thought that he had a bigger problem - this gator was about 8 ft and there was no way he was going to stop it from attacking. But to Joe's surprise, the gator just laid up beside a floating cypress log. Joe said "he looked at me for a bit, then moved off. I said 'thanks', got in the boat and headed out of the swamp."

Joe then said "after that day, I never killed another gator." I still believe him. SW

Florida Authentica: Your field guide to the unique, eccentric, and natural marvels of the real Sunshine State

Everglades Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Historic Everglades, including Big Cypress, Corkscrew, and Fakahatchee Swamps (Wildflowers in the National Parks Series)

Weird Florida: Your Travel Guide to Florida's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Bathroom Book of Florida Trivia: Weird, Wacky and Wild