Monday, June 06, 2005

The Magical Snake Man

There’s an article in the paper today about a woman who lost her pet iguana. As I was reading about her plight I came across the name Al Robbins. Oh my gosh! It’s the snake man! If you grew up in Bakersfield you have to know about the snake man.

Every year elementary school students would line up and walk happily to the Cafetorium for an assembly with The Snake Man. Al Robbins would entertain and educate us about snake and reptiles with his bags and cages full animals. I remember being thrilled and a little frightened by his magic tricks. At the end of every show he would chose several children from the audience to help him hold a gigantic boa constrictor. Kids went crazy hoping to be picked. I was always jealous of the kids who were chosen, even though I really did not want to touch the snake. I remember one time the snake peed on the stage and we were all grossed out. Ah, the good ol’ days.

When my son was about four years old we discovered that Al Robbins was going to be performing at The Racquet Club. I was so excited to see him again and share the experience with my son. When we got there he had already started and I don’t know if it was the crowd or what, but things were not going well. Al was cranky and the kids were not paying attention. We stayed for a few uncomfortable minutes then slipped out. I think he freaked Paul out.

Al Robbins passed away in 2000 at the age of 99 and the Herpetological Center at CALM was named after him. You can find a short but interesting biography of Al at this website.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I was one of the kids chosen, but not for the large constrictor. He tossed me a bag and told me to pull out whatever was inside. Wow, it was a little ball python, about 4 ' long. Later in life I was lucky enough to see Mr Robbins once a week. He got me involved in the hobby and every week people lined up at his garage for food that he would have shipped in. He was great!