Grandpa Freeman and the Hoop Snake

Written by Liz Elrod

My grandpa Freeman was a colorful character. He was the son of Barney Freeman and Tempy Welborn and had been raised in Winston County most of his life. He was a kind person when it suited his ego. He always had this thing about being right, and his opinion was going to be versed regardless of whom he came in contact with. He and I were close, and he seemed to understand me and I him.

Grandpa and I used to take long walks in the forest. He had asthma and couldn't walk very far or fast, and we would have to stop and let him catch is breath, as he called it.

We would walk old Houston Road and grandpa would always say, "Lets walk down to the old Butler place." I had heard my dad refer to that place being a good place to fish on Brushy Creek, but as for now me and grandpa were just having a nice walk in the forest.

"Do you see that tree over yonder?" Grandpa asked while pointing toward the many trees in the mighty Bankhead Forest. There was only one that stood out among the rest; it was gray and leafless, and it wasn't hard to pick it out. "Yes I see it," I said. He said that a long time ago that a hoop snake killed that tree. "How grandpa?" I asked the obvious questions. He told me that there were so many hoops snakes in the forest that it was dangerous to go in to the forest. He said that a group of farmers got together and killed them all off. He was so sure that the old lone tree was attacked by a hoop snake rolling up in a hoop shape and that it had stuck its stinger at the end of its tail and killed that old tree dead.

We took many walks down the Houston Road and each time he told me the same story. I often think about the times that grandpa walked with me in the woods, and he always took the time to stop and catch his breath. I know that he didn't feel like it sometimes, but he knew how much that I enjoyed it, and he always went with me.

Sometimes love is measured in unusual ways. Grandpa loved me a lot and that was his way of showing it.