Animal news: A little tale starring Dave Van Ronk and a snake pit

And it’s National Cookie Day!

This post title is a trifle misleading. The snakes were not in a pit. They were in a snake house that was described as an aquarium. But after a (very short) time researching what one calls a snake house that looks like an aquarium, I’m going to call it a herp environment. Or snake living quarters.


I heard this story because Andrea Vuocolo, Dave Van Ronk’s widow and a dear friend of mine — as was Dave — called to say it was National Cookie Day! Among the many glorious artisanal areas in which Andrea is gifted, she makes cookies. Absolutely insanely wonderful cookies.

Once we covered how to celebrate National Cookie Day (eat a cookie), she asked me what I was doing.

Aside from postponing ventures such as picking up an Rx at the drugstore, I had nothing much to tell her. And this absence of storytelling is a grief and a guilt to me. Never before in my life have I had nothing to say.

So I told Andrea about The Blob. And about the pianist playing for elephants and monkeys except, unlike the elephants, the monkeys were eating the piano music.

And that reminded Andrea of this story:

Among the venues where Dave performed was a nature center somewhere in Connecticut. The stage there was surrounded with living quarters for creatures of nature. Among the environments were glass residences for snakes.

As Dave played and sang, though, the snakes, theretofore quiescent, began to writhe, making an oddly lively backdrop for his performance. The writhing was sort of distracting to the audience, so the nature center folk threw covers over the snake houses so the audience could direct their full attention to Dave.

Andrea told me they discovered that B flat seemed particularly to excite the snakes. Maybe they were dancing, maybe objecting to that note.

That’s the whole story.

Again, happy National Cookie Day.


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