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Found in the Morgue: Five Local Snake Stories

Jun 14, 2010 11:05 AM | 0 comments

While searching in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle morgue, I came across the following photo, which spurred a hunt for local snake stories.

Reverend Dr. Hugo E. Meyer

Reverend Dr. Hugo E. Meyer, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Woodhaven, Queens, had a long-standing pastime of hunting snakes. He collected snakes for his personal specimen collection, which he housed in hundreds of jars in the cellar of his Ozone Park home. His capture method involved throwing himself at the snake and "just about smothering it", using his stomach to field the blow, making sure to have a "hypodermic needle and a supply of antivenom that goes with it nearby."

Reverend Dr. Hugo E. Meyer with local Scouts

His snake collection was a "never failing source of interest to the Boy Scout troop attached to the church", the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. The Reverend's wife and children supported his herpetology habits; in fact, most of his specimens were collected on family vacations to Florida.

A.S.P.C.A. agents holding Coney Island snakes

The next snake story was reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle after a Coney Island woman looked out her window to discover fifteen snakes slithering past her house on West 8th Street. Further investigations revealed that a nearby Surf Ave. side show concessionaire had neglected to properly lock up his snakes for the night.

Edward Fabry in hospital after being bitten by his pet snake

Amateur herpetologist Edward Fabry, of 75 Bush Street, Brooklyn, made the Brooklyn Daily Eagle news, after being bitten by his pet copperhead snake. His quick thinking saved his life when he applied a suction pump to the wound to draw out venom.

Edward's younger brother Billy with the snake collection

In 1947, a six-foot snake was found in the backyard of a residence at 522 Carlton Ave. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that a young girl found the snake, and notified a nearby policeman, who "advanced on the critter with a drawn gun, but by the time he entered the yard a galley of neighborhood boys and girls was perched on fences and he hesitated about firing." It was later revealed that a neighbor at 518 Carlton Ave. had brought the snake home three weeks prior, with the sole purpose of frightening his wife.

Anna Hamilton (inset), whose husband brought home a snake to scare her

The final local snake story is an incident involving New York night club dancer and entertainer, Zorita, who was found guilty of cruelty to her dance partner -- a ten-foot python -- whose mouth she taped shut for performances. Bail was set at $1500 and Zorita's snake was confiscated. 

Zorita with her daughter and pet snake in happier times