April 30 – I always liked chameleons and would carry them around and hang them on the electric light cords hanging from the ceilings, where they would snap up the flies that liked to perch on the cords. Africans dislike reptiles and small creatures of all kinds and would rarely touch or handle them, so I often chased our Africa servants around the yard with a lizard or chameleon on hand.One day I came into the kitchen and there was the African cook at work in front of the stove. The chameleon I was carrying needed something to climb on, so I quietly allowed it to step over onto the back of his shirt. Up and up it went until it reached his collar and stretched out a hand to find a hold on his neck. Feeling the tickle and thinking it was some insect, he reached back and gave the chameleon a swat. It fell down inside of his shirt and immediately began scratching around to find a way out. The cook went berserk and began dancing up and down in great leaps, tearing out his shirttails and dropping the chameleon on the floor. Oddly, he blamed me for this misadventure. I don’t remember just when Mom and Dad moved to Gwelo town to live but they rented a house in a suburb name Clonsilla. Dad was now an outschool inspector, and it was his job to go from village to village to check on the little elementary schools and see how they were doing. He enjoyed this job and the travel it provided. Sometimes he would be away from home for days at a time, travelling by car with the company of a young “African trek” boy to provide guidance in the back country.
It was while we lived in Gwelo that I became employed by Pickerings, a travel and customs-clearing company located just a few miles away in town. There were lots of houses in Clonsilla, but also quite a bit of unoccupied country and bush that provided wildlife for us now and then. One day a big fat puff adders was discovered in the yard and after it was killed was found to contain 80 eggs. These would have hatched within the mother and been born to crawl around the yard and adjacent bush.
On another day I heard my dog Blitz barking at something in the vacant area next door, so went over to see that he had found. He had found a big snake, and wisely was standing back and reporting his find. Seeing me approaching, the snake dashed into a nearby hole but I got there in time to grab its tail and start pulling. As usual, the snake held on for a while, then weakened and I was able to pull it out and pin it down. It was a black Egyptian cobra, about six feet long. I took it over to the house and had Mom come out and take some pictures of it and us. Had to poke it with a broom to make it rear up and look dangerous. – DALE