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Laurence M. Klauber

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Selected Journal Entries from the 1940s

The snake that bit me.
Southern Pacific Rattlesnake
"This is the one that bit me" -- from LMK's catalogue and journal. Both the journal and this specimen are part of the SDNHM collections.

Sunday, May 19, 1940

[Please note that the snakebite treatments described here are no longer recommended! We have included them for their historical interest. --Ed.]

This morning went out to Corte Madera for lunch. 44 miles. Nothing seen.
This afternoon at 5:20, toward the eastern edge of the Corte Madera Valley, there was a small oreganus [now Crotalus viridis helleri] in the road. Put a stick on his head and picked him up, or started to. In some way which I will never understand he got enough of his head loose to bite me on the inner side of the right thumb above the upper joint. Both fangs, but probably got very little venom as he was small and had already bitten the stick.

I jerked my hand loose and got a tourniquet on (necktie) at once. The pain was evident in the thumb instantly. Started to drive on and then went back (about 1/4 mile) and collected the snake. There was some pain in the armpit at 5:27. Drove as fast as possible in spite of the Sunday traffic. Drove as far as El Cajon myself; GG drove the rest of the way. Loosened the tourniquet at 5:35 and at 5:56 for about 1/2 minute each time. First noticed a tingling and numbness in the upper lip at 5:50; this spread to the tongue and lower lip. It was very noticeable at 6:10.

Reached El Cajon about 6:15 and called up Dr. Knox. He came over to his office above the drugstore and made a deep cross-incision at the site of the bite and got a good flow of blood. However his suction apparatus wasn't working and it took 15 or 20 minutes to get it in order and even then it didn't seem to do much good.

The tourniquet was removed and I don't think was replaced until I reached the hospital. He tested me for horse serum, found I was sensitive and thought I had better not take a shot until I was desensitized. I had him call up Crawford and then went on in to Mercy Hospital where Drs. Mark Young and H.A. Thompson were waiting to see me.

From here on the symptoms are worth very little, being complicated by the results of the treatment

  a) tourniquet (later applied to forearm), then to upper arm as a red streak became evident clear up to the arm-pit. This later turned yellow.
b)incision. This did considerable damage to the ball of the thumb.
c) serum. This caused a very severe case of hives and other bodily reactions.

Crawford came in shortly. Was desensitized and given 5cc of serum in the lower arm and the other 5cc in the upper arm. More suction was applied and rubber tourniquets. Was typed but not given a blood transfusion. Arm and thumb very painful probably on account of the treatment, not the bite. Some swelling in the armpit and the facial symptoms continued. Was given dope and got some sleep intermittently.


Thursday, May 23, 1940

In bed with serum sickness and hives. Very nervous. Arm still shows yellow streak and is rather painful, but the hives are the worst part of it.


Saturday, June 1, 1940

Arm still bad. Bothered me a good deal last night. It tires very easily and when it is tired is quite painful. Otherwise there is no longer any apparent effect from the bite. Of course writing is difficult both because of the tired arm and because there is a large mass of dried blood where the pen is held.
Today at 10:45 Chas. Shaw and I started for the desert. It was part cloudy and windy.

  1 Longnose M DOR Morena grass Regular lecontei [?]
3 Cal King L DOR Rose Canyon grass
1 Bogles King M DOR " "
2 Bogles King L DOR " "
1 Red Racer L DOR Bonsall " (saved)
1 Striped Racer L DOR Fallbrook Brush
1 H.T. DOR at Anza Branch Saved Blainvillii
1 Gopher M DOR " " Brush
1 H.T. DOR Nightingales straight Blainvillii
1 Leafnose DOR 3.8 mi. below Nightingales
(This was 0.8 mi. above the 3000 ft. contour) Rocks and brush. Very high for a leafnose.
Reached Indio at 4 P.M. Put up at the DeLuxe Moto Court. Rested until dinner time.
Started out for the evening drive at 7:05; dusk but not dark. Windy. Slightly overcast. Cooling fast. Went out on the aqueduct road. The branches are badly washed and risky without a daylight presurvey. First went up Berdoo branch and boiled the car very badly but got out all right. Got back to the main road at 8:17. Now quite dark and breezy 86°
  1 H.T. COR 8:25 82° main road near Berdoo Canyon
1 Gecko LOR 8:33 Pushawalla Canyon
1 Sidewinder COR 8:33 " " 80° This snake was found neatly coiled beside the road so that his top was flush with the surface.
1 Gecko COR 8:35 80° Pushawalla Canyon
1 Leafnose COR 9:10 78° 1000 Palms Canyon
1 " COR 9:18 77° " " "
1 Boa COR 9:23 76° Wide Canyon
1 Leafnose COR 9:25 76° " "
(Went up Wide Canyon but got nothing)
1 Gecko COR 9:56 77° Lone Canyon
1 Mitch Small COR 9:58 78° Desert Hot Springs
1 Leafnose COR 10:06 78° 1 1/2 mi N. of Garnet
1 Leafnose COR 10:14 76° blowing a gale. Garnet
1 Bogles King DOR M Hugo, Riverside Co
1 Sidewinder L DOR Palm Springs Junction
1 Cally COR Palm Springs RR Sta 10:30 74° Windy
1 Leafnose L DOR Palm Springs
1 " COR 2 mi. NW of Cathedral City 11:00 78°
1 Sidewinder " " " " " " "
1 Leafnose L DOR 2 mi. NW " " " "
1 Sidewinder S DOR 1 1/2 " " " " "
1 " M DOR Cathedral City
1 " COR " " 11:12 81°
1 " S DOR " "
1 Arizona S DOR Date Gardens (saved)
1 Sidewinder L DOR " "
1 Leafnose S DOR " "
1 Sidewinder DOR Indian Wells

Reached Indio at 11:50 breezy slightly warmer.

S.D. Co miles daylight 65. Night desert hunt 80 miles; 4 hours 45 min. Total miles today 248.


Sunday, June 16, 1940

Shaw worked today and made some head way in the rat's nest in the basement where incoming specimens have been over flowing into every corner.
I continued catching up with recording; filing, entering, trips of others in this book and similar activities. This is fairly up to date. Must soon return to research; whether I can concentrate on it remains to be seen. These days it's purely an escape mechanism -- nothing else. Don't seem to be able to concentrate on anything except the most mechanical calculations. Today marks the last real resistance in France.


Saturday, April 12, 1941

Went over to the Natural History Museum and the Zoo. Talked to Mrs. Benchley about papers. Got permission to start a new series under the title "Applications of Statistical Methods to Herpetological Problems." Part 1 will be the frequency distribution and part 2 the desert vs coast.
David Mocine talked.
Spent the rest of the morning checking some statistics in Grobman's paper.
Spent the afternoon and evening drawing random samples.


Tuesday, April 22, 1941

Was appointed general manager of the company [SDGE] today.


Saturday, June 14, 1941

Shaw worked today.
Spent the morning at UCLA checking a few specimens. Not much new. No new Rhinochiilus. Noted a worm snake No. 1571 from Riverside Mts, May 1, 1941, collected by Bill Salt. Quite dark for cahuilae. No Utahensis tendencies.
Saw Cowles and Vanderhorst.
Went to President Sproul's for luncheon. Regents there.
Received honorary degree LLD. in the afternoon.
Returned late in the evening.

Locality from R.M. Williams 8 mi. NW of Arbucle at Corina Creek Colusa Co. C. marmorata.

[Later entry] The other recipients of LLD's were Harvey Seeley Mudd, the mining engineer; and Karl T. Compton, President of M.I.T.


Thursday, June 19, 1941

Attended the meeting of the Ich & Herp Soc in Pasadena today. Met many herps. There was a symposium on pit vipers in the morning and on Africa in the afternoon. Presided at the first and presented a paper on speciation in rattlesnakes. Chap and I pulled out at about 5:20, reaching Banning at 7:12. Dusk but not dark. Clear and breezy. No moon.

  1 Red Racer L DOR Owl Light brush.
1 Sidewinder S COR 5 mi. N.W. of Palm Spr.
7:40 87° dusk not quite dark very windy
1 Sonora L COR Cathedral City 8:00 89°
almost dark
1 Sidewinder S COR 3 mi. W. of P to P Junction 8:22 87°
1 Chuck DOR at 3000 ft contour (10 mi. W. of Junction) Saved
1 Leafnose L COR 11 mi. W. of Junction (4 mi E of Nightingales) 8:45 79° Cool and breezy.
1 Leafnose L DOR Same saved.
1 Gopher S. DOR Nightingales. Saved.
1 ? LOR 2 mi. W. of Nightingales 9:10 P.M.
1 Red Racer L DOR Elsinore
1 Oreganus S DOR Fallbrook.

Reached home at 1 AM Miles today 204
Miles evening drive 40 miles; 1 hr 40 min


Tuesday, December 16, 1941

A M Jackley of South Dakota called this afternoon. Had a very interesting discussion with him particularly concerned with the rattler dens of South Dakota.
He says they are 4 to 6 miles apart. Large males get there first. Easier to catch them in fall than spring. Many juveniles don't reach the dens; the ones which do follow the adults.


Monday, May 11, 1942

As I was due in Los Angeles for a business meting tomorrow, I went via the Mojave for what may be the only snake hunt of the year. Started at 3:30 PM (Pacific War Time) Warm, windy and part cloudy.

  1 Red Racer L DOR El Toro Grass Blackhead
1 Gopher S " " " " " Saved

San Bernardino at 7 PM Cold cloudy and windy. The outlook bad.
Adelanto at 7:55. Cold and windy.
Sundown at 7:45.
Kramer Junction at 8:55. Very cold and windy. 52° F. Seeing there was no chance to get anything we drove fast from here on, reaching LA at midnight.
Total miles today 329.
Evening drive 1 hour (Adelanto to Kramer Junct) 29 miles.


Monday, June 8, 1942

Arrived at Washington at 8:40. Took quite a while checking baggage and buying tickets. Then went to the USNM where I met Miss Cochran. Talked specimens, and statistics. Visted Dr. Stejneger for an hour or more and discussed the possibility of Cope's Chilomeniscus Ephippicus coming from California. Wonderful how the old gentleman (now nearing 91) remembers all the notes and lines of investigation. I asked him particularly about the Baird and Girard ms. to accompany the Pacific RR reports, but he didn't know where it could be.
Went to the U.S. Nat Gallery of Art for lunch. Waited a long time for a chance to eat.
Then back to the USNM until 5 P.M. Checking a few snakes and snake lists.
Left for NY at 6 P.M. and arrived at 10.


Tuesday, June 9, 1942

Went to the AMNH a few moments after 9 and stayed until 5:15. Saw Bogert's work on teeth, on cobras (especially teeth) and on Salvadora. He has many wonderful drawings. Met Jas. Oliver; also later in the afternoon Mrs. Clifford Pope. The entire day was spent in the discussion of problems and statistics, and was most interesting.
Took lunch with the staff and met G.G. Simpson. After lunch went to Simpson's office and discussed statistics. Met Mont. Cazier an entomologist with whom I had corresponded. Then back to Bogert's office for more discussion and argument.
Also met Heifetz the man who overhauled Uma.
A very worth-while day.


Friday, January 1, 1943

Although out in the evening I got a fair amount of work done today. As of this date, the tail-length paper, with the exception of a few minor pick-ups, is complete up to the rattler section. The temptation is to drop it now and take up the many taxonomic problems that have lately piled up, including the descriptions of a number of new subspecies. Also I am far behind in card indexing, filing, cataloging and similar activities. But, except for necessary work for other museums and herpetologists, I shall keep on with and try to finish the tail-length study, while the methods and formulas are still fresh in mind.


Monday, February 8, 1943

Went to the meeting of the Fellows SDSNH and heard a too-long talk on Guayule by Osborn. While dozing I had an idea on showing the difference of a specimen from 2 related species by co-ordinates representing probabilities. Think it is a useful scheme and will drop everything and follow it up.


Monday, March 1, 1943

The tail-length paper is finished; now I shall try to find an avenue of publication, or store it in the safe until after the war. It is necessary to keep finished papers separate from the mass of data at home, out of which no one but myself could ever make head or tail.
After mature consideration I have decided to try to complete the correlation paper which was started a year and a half ago (9-14-41) and which was interrupted to do the tail-length off-shoot. 125 typewritten pages are finished and much more computation, and it would seem poor judgement not to complete this (it will take months) before tackling the descriptions of the new species and subspecies which I have on the hook. But the latter surely look attractive and restful.


Saturday, March 27, 1943

Spent most of the morning at the zoo. Saw the room constructed for the specimens to be removed from the Natural History Museum, which is now practically dismantled.
Went over the tail-length paper with Perkins. Mrs Benchley agreed to print it.
Spent the rest of the day on morphological correlations and made some progress.


Saturday, April 17, 1943

Worked all day and evening on the correlation paper and it is now practically finished with the exception of the usual checking -- also bibliographiy, acknowledgments, and summary.
This paper was begun 9-11-41 so it took about 1 1/2 years, with time out for the tail-length interlude.
I think I had best quit statistics for a while now and go back to taxonomy. But first I shall really clear up the correlation paper ready for Perkin's review and then publication if any avenue is open.


Friday, December 31, 1943

Out to dinner and midnight party tonight.
Thus ends a year characterized by slowly developing papers and hence considerable disappointment with respect to total production. But of course the extra work by reason of war work was considerable. And with the loss of Shaw [drafted] and Menzies [college] the curatorial work which I must do myself is very time-consuming.


Friday, January 7, 1944

Drove to Los Angeles this morning to attend an Army-Navy Conference at the Ambassador Hotel.
Attended the conference all afternoon. Heard talks by Patterson (Under Secy of War), Gen HH Arnold, Gen FF Armstrong, Col. Nance and Col. Ruddell. There were also fine "restricted" war movies. It was a very impressive conference.
In the evening we had a buffet supper and then a vaudeville show at Warner Bros. studios. At the supper saw among others: Allan Hale, Donald Crisp, Gary Cooper, Robt. Montgomery, Ann Sheridan, Joan Crawford, Geo O'Brien, Ida Lupino, Lina Basquette, Sidney Greenstreet, Errol Flynn.
The performers Jack Carson, Abbott & Costello, Jane Wyman, Reggy Gardner, Bob Allen, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Irene Mamy[?], Ray Bolger, Jack Benny, Dinah Shore, Spike Jones and his City Slickers.
The trip to and from Warners in busses with military outsiders was something in itself.


Saturday, April 14, 1945

All day and eveing cliping and arranging correspondents rattler comments for semi-popular paper.
Good progress


Sunday, April 15, 1945

Worked all day (except Amphion concert in afternoon) on semi-popular paper on western rattlesnake habits. Made some progress -- not as good as I had hoped. Banta called tonight.


Wednesday, April 25, 1945

Started for Twenty-nine Palms this afternoon with GG at 2:30. A cool overcast day.
Nothing seen in the county (via Escondido)

  1 Live snake started across the road at Temecula. Didn't stop to try to catch it.
1 Gopher snake S. DOR Wildomar Fields Saved.
1 " " L DOR North Elsinore Grass
Reached Riverside at 5:30 cloudy.
After getting a room. Left for Twenty nine Palms.
1 Gopher Sanke L. DOR Morongo (at Lodge) light brush. Bad condition but saved.
1 Scute L. DOR Yucca Valley
1 Sidewinder S COR " " 8:20 P.M. 70° F
1 " L DOR " " Saved.
Reached 29 Palms at 8:50 Just dark. Full moon. Quite cool.
1 Longnose Small COR 10:10 62° Very windy the mesa 5 mi. north of 29 Palms Junction

Reached Riverside at 11:20 cold with some rain. 288 miles today. Night drive 62 miles.


Saturday, May 12, 1945

Worked on rattlesnake habits bibliography, having decided to do it thoroughly. Zoo meeting at noon and out to dinner at night took too much time.


Sunday, May 20, 1945

Worked on the bibliography in the morning. Went out to lunch and stayed all afternoon.
Have decided to make another one of those inquiry campaigns -- foresters, game wardens, etc.
Picking up odds and ends in the evening.


Sunday, June 17, 1945

Pickled snakes in the morning.
Tried several rattlers to see if the myth about their following the parallel [?] with their eyes had any foundation in fact. None was found. This has been written up in more detail elsewhere.
Then continued work on the bibliography until late at night, making some headway on a very long job.


Saturday, June 23, 1945

Spent the morning in the Public Library on rattler bibliographical matters and cleaned up everything there. Good progress. In the afternoon, let rattlers swim in the pond and made notes. The rest of the time was spent with postal card inquiries for further information from foresters and similar items; also Jane Peckham's wedding.


Sunday, July 1, 1945

Spent the entire day and eveing reading through old correspondence looking for rattlesnake field notes.
Vasco M. Tanner called this afternoon and we spent an interesting two hours discussing herpetology and books.


Saturday, July 7, 1945

Put in a long day and evening on the rattler habits paper. Some letters; some bibliographic work. Went over some of the past letters.
Had a long talk with Mrs. Benchley this morning about the increased scope and size of the paper -- probably run at least 300 pages -- and she is still willing and anxious to publish it. Also talked over the press of clerical, stenographic, and copy work. She was quite willing to hire a girl to do it. All this is very encouraging indeed.


Saturday, August 4, 1945

Spent the day and evening on bibliographic work at the Medical Library, main library, and at Chapman Grant's. The bibliographic work for this paper is certainly a long and major effort.
Only 4 answers from the game warden series of inquiries. They are coming back much slower thatn the forester series; evidently there will be a smaller proportion of returns.
King snake from San Jose B.C. ate a small Pacific Rattler at the zoo. Full notes were made. Threw it up on the way home. Rattler unhurt. Full notes were made.


Sunday, August 5, 1945

Spent the day and evening running through all the diaries from 1923 on looking for rattler life history notes that may not have been transferred to the yellow cards. Got up to 1937.
Same King snake ate the same rattler. Full notes were made.
This rattler was from Palomar, not otherwise recorded.


Saturday, August 11, 1945

Spent the morning checking the diaries and on other clerical and co-ordinating work on the rattler habits and life history paper.
Went to the zoo at 11 AM to talk over administration matters with Mrs. Benchley and to attend the meeting of the directors at noon.
After the meeting had another king snake eat a rattler. This took much longer than expected, 3 hours in fact. Among the witnesses were Chas. Lowe Jr., his wife, and Ensign Frierson, nephew of L.S. Frierson, Jr. Full notes have been filed elsewhere.
At Forward's for dinner and evening so not much done today.


Tuesday, August 14, 1945

Peace at 4:01 this afternoon.


Monday, August 20, 1945

This afternoon with Phil & GG went out in the back country. Started at 3:50. Clear & hot. Went out via the highway to Descanso, Cuyamaca, then down the Banner grade to Scissors Crossing. Daylight drive 75 miles; only one DOR seen
1 Red Racer M DOR Banner Brush.
Hung around Scissors Crossing waiting for it to get dark. It was quite comfortable. 81° and breezy.
Then drove out beyond the Narrows and back. Not a snake was seen alive or dead.
Reached the Narrows at 8:18 82° almost dark.
Turned back 7 miles east of the Narrows 8:45 93° F.

  Got 2 Coleonyx
1 2 mi W. of Narrows.
1 1 " E " "
Also a Uta stans COR at Sentenac Bridge. 9:45 Turned it loose.

Reached Scissors Crossing at 9:55. 82° F. Cool & breezy.
Total evening drive 38 miles 2 1/2 hours nearly full moon. Another proof that it isn't the temperature, but the season that controls.
Reached home at 12:30. Total miles 186.


Sunday, August 11, 1946

Worked all day on Indian snake-bite remedies and made good progress. Not easy to co-ordinate and arrange. This Indian-rattler section is going to be much larger than originally contemplated.
From 11 to 12 at the zoo. I talked to Prof. Zimmerman, who with Clifford Pope, has worked out fundamental theories of rattle formation. No doubt they are right and have proved me wrong on several counts, but there are still some serious gaps in their theory from a purely mechanical standpoint.


Saturday, August 17, 1946

Worked all day and evening on Indians and Rattlers and made good progress. This section should be finished shortly.

Its' been a tough week -- one of the most difficult I can remember. I suppose nowhere is age more evident than in the loss of ability to withstand nervous shocks -- such as that involved in the death of a 15 year-old dog. The terrible homesickness that no home can assuage; the loneliness that is always present; the all-gone feeling in the pit of the stomach; under these circumstances it is hard to be objective and retain a fair sense of relative values. Only a little dog -- yes --but a tearing bitter loss just the same. No patter down the hall; the scratch on the door that never comes.


Monday, September 2, 1946

Finished the Indian and Historical sections. Decided to separate them. The rest of the day was taken up in necessary curatorial work which is now far behind. I hate to waste time in this kind of activity, but it must be done. I am thinking of tackling the Food section next.
Mrs. Benchley has OK'ed printing the gopher snake paper -- Western U.S. This is the last unprinted ms.; for all the time since its completion has been spent on the Rattler Life History book.


Monday, December 9, 1946

Was elected president of the Company [SDGE] today.


Saturday, August 30, 1947

Worked on the copying of the portable bibliography and other misc. work. Bogert came in for lunch, and also for dinner, after which we had a long talk (to 11PM) on herpetological matters.
New boy* started in the basement today; Bruce Provin leaving shortly.
Bogert volunteered to read sections of the rattler paper any time.
*Dick Schwenkmeyer


Sunday, August 31, 1947

Finished copying the bibliography today. This will be a great help on all future trips to libraries. Also worked on various items to clear up the bibliogrpahic records. Drudgery, but necessary for more efficient work later.
Worked a little on the "Speckled Band" project.


Monday, September 1, 1947

Worked all day and evening on the "Speckled Band" project and finished the first draft. [See The Truth About the Speckled Band, reprinted from the Baker Street Journal, an Irregular Quarterly of Sherlockiana. --ed.]


Saturday, February 21, 1948

The entire day -- to 4 PM -- in catching up with a number of unfinished items, mostly bibliographic in preparation for my eastern trip. Hate to quit actual writing of the Habits section of the paper, but it seems advisable to so in order that the eastern trip and library visits can be most efficient.
Am investigating old snake bite cases in the medical journals -- mostly 1800-1860 -- to get the history of treatments; also such notes as the doctors included on the snakes themselves and how people happen to get bitten.
Then I have started a deeper investigation than was originally intended into ancient and medieval folklore and treatment to learn the sources of as many stories and beliefs as possible.


Sunday, February 22, 1948

Spent the morning at the SD Public Library consulting the Library of Congress and British Museum Catalogs. Made good progress on a bibliographical investigation of ancient and medieval medicine. Lined up a number of new references.
Out to a buffet supper at 4.


Saturday, June 12, 1948

Spent most of the morning at the Zoo because of various meetings.
In the afternoon, having made the decision after coinsiderable thought and regret, I put aside Section 7 on habits and reverted to the descriptions of new subspecies -- Coronado oreganus,San Esteban molossus[?], El Muerto mitchelli, and southern willardi. Also the revival of helleri and cerberus. So I picked up the oreganus part where I had dropped it in March 1945; for the beginning of that paper and the attempt to gather data on habits for it were the forerunner of the expanded program that has engaged my attention during the subsequent 3 years, with 2 years or more still to go to finish it. But as the nomenclature changes ought to be included in the Life History book, the quicker I make them the better, for this will reduce the changes in the final manuscript. Regretable but good judgement.
Made a good start picking up the oreganus problem.