Snake in the Grass

Short Story – Donna Lafollette

“Oh, am I sick! I just can’t keep this up. I think I’m going to puke,” I thought, as my second hour juniors passed forward their essays on Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” Finally, the bell rang to end class, and I dashed from my second floor room to the restroom on the first floor. “I can’t keep racing down here,” I moaned, as I watched the remains of my chili lunch swirl away from me. “I’m going home!”

After I reported to the office, I grabbed my London Fog raincoat, jotted down some hurried notes on a Post-It for the sub, and trudged to my yellow Volkswagen bug. The thought — Yellow Bug — brought burning bile bubbling into my throat.

When I finally got home, I pulled into the gravel driveway, parked the car, opened the door, and dragged myself toward the front door of my house. Then I froze. There in my path coiled a slimy, green snake. To me it looked as big as a boa basking in the warm April sun. But, worst of all, it barred my way to the house. What could I do? Repulsion shivered over my body like a prickly, cold rain, but I had to slay the evil enemy that lay in my way. I raced to the barn to get a sharp hoe but stopped. I couldn’t do that: raise the hoe high in the air, swing it down, and chop through its green slithery neck sending its red blood everywhere. Bile again seared my throat.

Snake in the Grass
Snake in the Grass

Back to the car I dashed. I revved the engine and sped through the yard toward the snake. I’d run it down! Ignoring the deep ruts in the damp earth, I made several passes at my reptilian foe. Suddenly, realized I didn’t know if the snake was dead or not. It could be lurking right outside my car door. What was I to do? Would I step on it if I got out of the car? With a flash of genius, I drove right up to the front stoop of the house, opened the car door, leaped out, and darted inside. Safe at last!

Much later, when my husband arrived home, he spied the furrows in the yard and the Volkswagen with its door ajar. He ran to move the car, but when he cranked the key that I had left in the ignition, the engine ground and barely turned over. Then, just a click. I hadn’t slaughtered the monster snake, but I had butchered the battery.


True Family Story

Short Story – Donna Lafollette

Stompers with Modifications
Stomper With Mods

Stomper Pull

Procrastinating My Morning by Reminiscing

In my Facebook feed this morning, I came across a post leading me to a video of a short autobiography piece with Eddy Goldfarb. Looked kinda fun, so I pulled it up on my second screen and let it play while I worked on the first screen, letting my emails trickle in on the third. I didn’t really pay attention; most of the video progressed without me noticing, then I heard him mention Stompers. The dude invented the Stomper!

Stompers! Stompers were a big hit at the start of the ’80s. I was in elementary school, 5th grade. Since my mother taught in middle school, she’d drive us all to that building in the mornings, and then my sister and I would then walk over to the elementary. We would often wait 45 minutes to an hour before our short jaunt to our building because the middle school teachers had to be in their classrooms well before the elementary building opened the doors for students. I remember waiting with the middle schoolers who had formed a Stomper club that met in the mornings on the mezzanine overlooking the gym.

They had a Stompers sled-pulling, climbing, and racing contests. The PE teacher Dan Mullins or the shop instructor (my 52-year-old memory fails me) made a climbing mountain and a sled-pulling arena. Kids would tinker with the toys to make them stronger, heavier, or give the wheels more traction. Some Stompers were elaborately painted. Kids would spend a lot of allowance money on accessories and modifications.

I remember being quite envious of the toys; they were not something my mom would readily dish out money for an impulse purchase. She joked that I could get one out of the items she would confiscate from disruptive students during her Language Arts classes. Santa must have left one or two in my Christmas stocking because I did end up with a couple. Alas, the fad had waned by the time I attended class in that building, and the club lasted only for that one year. My interest must have moved on, too, as I never became engrossed with the customization as others had. Still, Stompers were a damn cool toy for us, old-timers.


Stompers Collecting


Good ol’ fashion Stomper Pull

Wikipedia – “Stompers were first created in 1980 by A. Eddy Goldfarb and sold by Schaper Toys. These toys were battery-powered vehicles that ran on a single AA battery and featured four-wheel drive. They were driven by a single motor that turned both axles. They were the first battery-powered,

electric, true 4WD toys.”



Bradie Shrum Elementary
Bradie M. Shrum Elementary



Salem Middle School
Salem Middle School