At the end of August 1909, the regulars at Evarts & Schwanbeck’s saloon in Wickenburg, Arizona were enjoying a few refreshing beverages. Someone ordered a brand of whisky that wasn’t on the shelf, so bartender Al Evarts reached for a drawer where he remembered putting a bottle of the special stuff. He pulled it open and immediately slammed it shut, turning to his patrons with a face that had gone dead white.
There was a rattlesnake in the drawer.
As reported in the Phoenix Republican, when Evarts “…recovered his self-possession, he gathered a force of picked men, noted for their bravery, and armed them with encouragement and a few other things.” The men huddled together with a variety of weapons, ready to take care of the deadly snake, and Evarts slowly opened the drawer.
Just as one of the men was about to strike, Evarts shouted for him to stop. According to the newspaper, what he allegedly said was, “Halt! Who touches yon grey head shall die like a dog–march on.” Followed by, “Let’s have another drink.”
Because the deadly reptile wasn’t a rattlesnake. It was a gopher snake. Not only that, it was Evarts’s pet gopher snake, and the saloon’s mascot.
About four feet long and the width of a man’s wrist, the snake was a great favorite around the place because it kept down the rat population. It lived in the cellar but had somehow found its way into the drawer, most likely looking for its next meal.
The paper didn’t say what happened afterward, but it is logical to assume that the snake posse had a few more beverages, and Al Evarts’s rodent exterminator went back into the cellar.