The Great Snipe Hunt



Bert Anderson and younger brother Clifford took Joan Monroe and younger sister Phyllis and Anna Beth Anderson and younger sister Earlene snipe hunting. We were only six of the many cousins in the Anderson-Allen Family. (Earlene remembers that Caroline Cobb from Andrews, Texas, our cousin on the Camp side, was also included, because she, her baby brother Alfred and Aunt Frankie were visiting our family, as was their habit each summer while Uncle Jaudon was preaching in a Baptist revival somewhere.) I can’t remember where 10-year old Joyce Allen was that night, because she certainly would have been involved had she been at home. Cousins Cleda and Dannie were “too old” for our shenanigans, and Helen and the remainder of the Allens: Allie, Charles and Hazel were not there as I recall.

The date must have been the summer of 1941, shortly after Aunt Jennie and Uncle Dan Allen had moved to the Hassel place and we had moved one mile south of them to the Anderson home place on Section 735 that was located ten miles south of Plains. The Willie Andersons, after a year’s residency in Plains, were about to move to Parker County in order that Billie might begin college in the fall of that year. I was born in 1935 and I turned six that summer this adventure happened; however, we cousins were always involved in some kind of activity whenever we would get together. In fact, the more cousins who came, the more mischief we seemed to think of despite Aunt Mildred’s cautioning Clifford not run or over-exert himself because of this heart condition following his bout with rheumatic fever.

I don’t know why the Charlie Andersons, who also lived in Plains, were not there, except this may have been an impromptu visit and none of us country folks had a telephone to notify the others. They were probably at their farm near the state line, since this was their custom during the summers so that Ray and Clyde could help Uncle Charlie in the fields and Latrell could help Aunt Rosa May in the house. The Robert Andersons were also absent, as they lived over in “Mexico” at Crossroads, a long ways from us. My folks called New Mexico, Mexico and Mexico, Old Mexico. Uncle Robert, Aunt Samantha, Little Walter, Lillian, and Ludell came as often as their budget and livestock would allow. Uncle Bennie and Uncle Albert, being bachelors who worked on ranches that were not far away had no children for us to enjoy. Uncle Wallace and Aunt Clara had baby Kenneth to tend to, as well as his duties as deputy sheriff of Yoakum County.

Ours was a closely knit family. Since Aunt Jennie Allen was the oldest of the eight children and the only girl, Daddy and his brothers often looked to her for advice and enjoyed visiting with her and Uncle Dan. In addition to her family of seven, she always seemed to have enough love to go around, and the Anderson brothers had her as a mother-substitute since their own mother had died in 1908; and they had lost their dad in 1929. Uncle Dan did not seem to mind periodic visits from his Anderson in-laws. In fact, in the late forties and early fifties, he enjoyed neighboring with us, often playing his guitar to accompany my Dad Walter whenever he played his fiddle. Regardless, several of the family was together on that momentous evening. 

Bert and Clifford led us five girls that warm summer night under the diamond-studded heavenly canopy onto the wide, hard-packed, red clay roadway on the west side of the house where our grandparents lived. Nearby, the tall shinnery and sand lay beyond the fence line, forbidden territory after dark because of the danger of rattlesnakes. The night creatures were making their usual nighttime sounds, and the windmill was squeaking as the wheel was slowly turning to pump water to the surface. An occasional sound echoed across the plains from a distant oilrig whenever one of the crew shifted gears so that the pipe could once again go back into or come out of the drilling hole. Those, however, were the only noises to be heard, for we had been instructed by Bert and Clifford that we were absolutely not to make any noise to scare the snipes away! They even took our shoes so that we would not make noise as we trekked along the roadway. At least that’s the reason they gave us for taking our shoes. Perhaps, they were trying to curtail our movements, since we knew better than to wander into the sand were the grass burrs and snakes were located.

The nighttime darkness seemed to engulf us. Since the oil activity was still quite young, very few lights from the flares and distant drilling rigs could be seen, and the glow from the lighted kerosene lamps inside the house lent very little light to the outside through the nearby window panes. We were in the pitch-blackness and had to hold onto each other’s hands to be led. I think that either Bert or Clifford had a flashlight, because they were the leaders of this group of young, enthusiastic adventurers.

The gentle breeze warmed our faces as they left us girls with tow sacks in which to catch the snipes. They emphasized that they were leaving us in order to scare the snipes our way. We were to bend over, remain still and hold the sacks next to the ground so that the snipes could run into the sacks as Bert and Clifford frightened them our way. Bert and Clifford discouraged us from having a flashlight because they told us the light would frighten away the snipes. I don’t remember if they told us to call to the snipes or if they said that they would do the calling. However, I do remember that they told us to be patient and wait.

After what seemed like an eternity, Clifford returned because Joan and Earlene were making so much noise that nothing could have been caught! Earlene, who was about three, and Caroline, a year older, got tired of bending over and not being able to talk. Those two decided to forget about the snipes. Joan was trying to coax them into cooperating. I’m sure that I didn’t remain silent either, for I was usually in my own private world and could care less about those about me. Nevertheless, the hunt was over, and unsuccessful, too, at least from our viewpoint!

Whenever we walked into the house, the adults were grinning and Bert and Clifford were laughing hilariously. That’s when we realized that a joke had been played on us!

by Anna Beth Anderson Ward 1935-2007
This page was last updated on 05/27/2016