The Professor and the Rodeo Queen, poem by William Ogden Haynes

Col­lege stu­dents excel at excus­es and before
I met the Rat­tlesnake Queen I thought I had
heard them all. She said she would have to miss

my class for two days to make some appear­ances
in South Alaba­ma. When I asked what kind of
appear­ances, she proud­ly announced that she was

crowned the Queen of the Rat­tlesnake Rodeo in
Opp, Alaba­ma. She showed me a pho­to­graph of
her­self with a strange­ly rep­til­ian smile wear­ing

a tiara and a large sash of snake skin. Since this
was my first her­peto­log­i­cal excuse, I went to the
library to find infor­ma­tion about Opp. It turns out

that every Spring for fifty years tens of thou­sands
of peo­ple con­verge on this small town where the
Jaycees have cap­tured a hun­dred or so rat­tlesnakes.

The rat­tlers are milked, dis­played, entered in a race,
fried and eat­en in sand­wich­es or bread­ed like chick­en
ten­ders. Sou­venirs of snake skins, rat­tles, heads with

fangs, hats, belts, wal­lets and boots are bought and sold.
There is gospel, coun­try music, fun­nel cakes and snake
han­dling. It is a ver­i­ta­ble super bowl of snakery, the

Six Flags of slith­er­ing, a nexus of neu­ro­tox­i­c­i­ty. I chuck­led as I
asked my dean, a South­ern gen­tle­man, if mak­ing appear­ances as the
Rat­tlesnake Rodeo Queen was an accept­able excuse for miss­ing my

class. He became very seri­ous and made it clear that we should be
hon­ored to have this fine young woman in the Col­lege of Lib­er­al Arts,
and like the oth­er ser­pents, the Snake Queen was not to be tri­fled with.

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2 Responses to The Professor and the Rodeo Queen, poem by William Ogden Haynes

  1. Hey Ted,
    I just saw this today! Glad to hear you are doing well and have fond mem­o­ries of your time at Auburn. Let's get in touch on Face­book!

    Bill

  2. Ted Venema says:

    Wim­mo Haynes:

    Tonight I went through old Auburn files and saw lots of the "Have you thanked God for Food Today?" posters that you'd rip down and slide across my desk in the AM.

    I am so very glad to learn you've adopt­ed fur­ther pur­suits from SLP. Me too. I'm doing tap danc­ing these days. You at least were a full pro­fes­sor. Me? I nev­er made it past Assis­tant.

    My Auburn days are well recalled. We had some fun there, invok­ing "the Lord" amidst a sea of sticky reli­gious schtick, didn't we?

    With fond mem­o­ries and well wish­es for 2017!

    Ted

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