Since childhood, I have always had a fear of snakes and rats. My fear could have been caused by some innocent adult who was trying to make me behave by telling me if I left the house I probably would be bitten by a large rat or snake. Even now, when I see a snake or rat on TV, a chill begins at my tailbone and ends at the nape of my neck.
Rats and mice were plentiful in the homes during the 50s. The large number had nothing to do with bad housekeeping or poor sanitation, but probably caused by the lack of any good pesticides and the old open houses. Also, farmers fed cattle and horses, and always had a crib full of corn, which rats loved.