Ezra Schlessman needs a new hat. It should be a cowboy hat because he has made a hat band and needs something to display it on. This is not the normal hat band that most boys have.

Ezra made it from a four foot rattlesnake that his mother “discovered” while mowing the family’s yard near Pineville.

When his mother found the snake next to the house, she “freaked out,” according to Ezra.

When they heard her screams, the entire family came to see the snake. Ezra’s 15-year-old brother shot it in the head (with .22 shorts). Then Ezra decided to skin the snake and tan its hide. So he mixed up some glycerin and alcohol to do the job.

The rattlesnake measured four feet long and had nine rattles.

Now that the hide is tanned, Ezra wants to make a band for a hat he doesn’t have yet.

But there’s another side to Ezra, beyond killing and skinning snakes. Ezra is a musician. Although only 12 years old, he plays several instruments. He says he started with the guitar his dad bought him when he was small.

“My dad plays guitar so I wanted to play his. I got a toy guitar and just played along with him,” Ezra says. “Then I started piano lessons.”

Piano lessons began when he was about seven years old and these were followed by guitar lessons. Now he plays piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin and violin. (He is still having trouble with the “bowing” on the violin.)
His most recent instrument is drums. When a friend got a new set of drums, Ezra got the friend’s old set and is learning to play.

“I just watch my friend and am learning from him,” he said.

His music is just for fun and Ezra doesn’t plan a musical career. He has his heart on being a pilot. But he enjoys his instruments and likes being in the school band in Pineville. This fall he will enter the seventh grade and the band is an important part of his school activities.

His favorite instrument is the guitar, but he is best on piano. In fact, he is good enough to be the pianist at his family’s church in Pineville.

Ezra says he’s going to be like his dad, “He didn’t make music a career, but has kept playing his guitar just for fun. I’m going to be like that and teach my own kids how to play.”

A young man following in his father’s footsteps — that’s reason enough to make Ezra Schlessman this week’s good neighbor.