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Frankie and the Snake Devil of Skuna River Bottom

I grew up in Skuna River Bottom, and always loved the stories and folklore about it, so I include it in many of the stories I write.

Frankie Prepares to Go Fishing

"Don't get into those sloughs while you're fishing, Frankie; you know how bad the rattlesnakes are this time of year; it's mating season," Catherine warned her 10-year-old son.

" Okay, mom," the youngster said as he grabbed his cane poles and a can of freshly dug redworms. "Just keep the grease hot, we'll have a big mess of catfish for supper."

As Frankie went out the front door and let the screen door slam shut, he hoped there wouldn't be too much wind, which might interfere with the fish and cause them not to bite.

The Granny Hole

Frankie was headed for the "Granny Hole" on Skuna River in Mississippi, and the year was 1921. The "Granny Hole" got its name from one of his elderly neighbors that always fished there, that is until the accident happened several years before when the grandmother venture to the especially deep hole in old Shuna River to catch her a mess of fish. When she didn't return, her family began searching for her, and found her fishing pole and can of redworms on the bank on the fishing hole, but no granny.

After searching high and low for her in the deep virgin timber of Skuna River Bottom, to no avail, they returned to the location where her belongings were and saw her bonnet floating in some reeds along the adjacent bank of the river, but she was still nowhere to be found.

At this point, the search intensified with neighbors' help. They used rowboats and drag hooks in the deep hole of water, but couldn't locate the elderly woman's body, and soon gave up the search, and assumed she drowned and her body floated on down the river. This incident gave the fishing hole the name, "Granny Hole."

"Granny Hole" on Skuna River

"Granny Hole" on Skuna River

Chickasaw Legend

Frankie had heard old folklore about the Granny Hole, and how the Chickasaw Indians, who had lived in the river bottoms hundreds of years prior had thought the deep, watery hole to be a place of supernatural forces. They said that an evil snake devil lived in the hole, and they called it "Sint-Holo," which was a dragon-like horned serpent of Chickasaw mythology. They had talked about how it claimed many Indian victims through the years, and how if you looked into its eyes, it could charm or hypnotize you and command you to do certain things of its biding. They said if you didn't, you would wake up with a bed full of poisonous rattlesnakes, and it would be your last day on the Earth.

Frankie smiled when he thought about this ridiculous legend as he rounded a bend in the river and arrived at the Granny Hole. "They should bite today," he thought, "if only that wind would die down." Frankie fished for about an hour, but only caught small catfish, several bream, a turtle, and then a snake. The snake had been in the reeds across from him, and he hadn't seen it, but when he tossed his bait over there, it latched on. When he got it ashore, he realized it was a huge rattlesnake with unusual markings and almost a dragon type head. When it started to rattle, the sound was almost deafening.

Sint-Holo Appears

The young boy became very startled and found a long stick, and began beating the rattler to death. Just as he did that, the snake made a lunge at him and he fell into the Granny Hole. The boy had never learned to swim but fought hard to try and get back on the bank, but the rattlesnake was determined to drown him and kept striking at him until the boy tired out and sank in the dark waters.

He didn't know how long he was out, but when he awakened, he found himself in a cavern that seemed to be lighted by some kind of green crystals. To his complete horror, there were rattlesnakes that looked like the one he caught, all around him, and their rattling was unlike anything he had ever heard. As he stood there in a complete panic, afraid to move, he saw something coming toward him from inside the cave. The thing was monstrously big and had foreboding eyes and a forked tongue that darted in and out of its mouth. As it drew closer to him, it opened its mouth; a mouth that could have swallowed him, and showed him fangs that had to be three feet long.

Devil Snake Hypnotizes Frankie

Unable to even twitch, Frankie stood there, awaiting his fate as the snake came nearer. Just as it reached him and looked him in the eyes, he felt a mesmerizing power overtake his own, and it seemed to be drawing something from him, just as it was adding something to his own psyche. That was the last thing he remembered before waking up at home in his bed with his mother standing over him. He was still delusional and screamed when he saw her.

"What is it, Frankie, what happened to you? You came home soaked, and wouldn't even speak. What happened?" his mother begged. Not recalling his encounter with the snake, he told her he remembered falling into the Granny Hole but didn't remember getting out. His mother told him, he needed to go back to sleep that she was concerned he might have caught the flu while returning home, wet in the cool wind. Frankie slept but didn't rest, and when his mother went in to check on him the next morning, he was gone.

Frankie Takes Milk to the Devil Snake

Not only was Frankie gone, but a full gallon of fresh milk was missing from the kitchen. As any mother would, Catherine called on her neighbors to help search for her son, and she and one group went to the Granny Hole, thinking he might have gone there.

To their astonishment when they arrived, the young boy, who appeared to be in a trance came up from beneath the waters, but he wasn't alone, there were rattlesnakes in the water all around him, and the monster snake appeared behind him. As everyone jumped back in astonishment, all the snakes, including the huge one opened their ugly mouths, showed their fangs and hissed a blood-curdling hiss. They allowed Frankie, who was carrying an empty jug that the milk had been in to exit the river, and his mother grabbed him and pulled him away from the water's edge. He was just stood there staring straight ahead, saying, "more milk--more milk!"



Devil Snake is Dead

One of the men recognized Frankie's behavior being the same that his grandfather had said some of the Indians had exhibited years before when they came out of the water there, and he believed that Frankie may have been placed in a trance by the demon snake, which forced him to bring milk as a sacrifice, and the only way to break the trance was to kill the monster. Everyone there agreed, and several of the men went home and brought back dynamite. After rigging the dynamite, they threw it into the "Granny Hole," and a huge explosion followed. As everyone watched in awe, dead snakes came to the surface in the body of water, and after a minute or so the devil snake floated to the surface, dead.

Frankie's Dead

Everyone was so intent on what was happening to the snakes, they forgot about Frankie. When his mother looked behind her, she was mortified to see Frankie lying on the ground, dead. His skin had been replaced by what looked like snakeskin, and his opened mouth revealed fangs and a forked tongue. The man who had told them about the Indians and their encounters with the snake devil said suddenly, it's true! Their legend said the snake could hypnotize people and breathe into their nostrils, and transfer some of their traits to the victim, and if the snake devil died, so would the victim.

Don't Fish in the Granny Hole

If you find yourselves in Skuna River Bottom and get an urge to go fishing, remember Frankie and the snake devil, because there may be others like it just waiting for you in the "Granny Hole!"

© 2019 Gerry Glenn Jones

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