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Thanks for a peek at my childhood, particularly my "tweener" years. I remember seeing the million bucks piled neatly and tightly into a large plexiglass square.

My most vivid memory of the Kroger store was of me and a couple of buddies riding our bikes to "The Village" the day that a carnival that had been set up there for a few days was being knocked down to move on to another town.

The "star" attraction in the side show was Big Ben, a python or anaconda supposedly the largest snake in captivity. He was displayed behind glass, stretched to his full length of something more than 30 feet.

It was a flea-bitten carnival and literally a fly-specked sideshow. I got rooked out of 10 cents or a quarter, probably, paying to see Big Ben, who was so inert that I thought he was dead, but a carnie watching over insisted that big snakes like Big Ben were mostly inert after eating, and that was the case here.

But the night me and my pals rode out to watch them knock down the carnival, there was a backhoe digging a trench some 30 feet long several feet south of the Kroger building in a dirt lot. It was Big Ben's grave. He was, indeed, dead, making his final and probably rotten appearance in La Crosse. I imagine in a couple hundred thousand years, after our and several subsequent human civilizations have come and go, paleontologists will be digging into the soil around here and conclude this was once a tropical area because it had giant, constricting snakes living here.

Thanks for the memories, as somebody once crooned.

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