Anyhow, sometime in the last week or so I was talking to the munchkins about pets I have owned – long before the reigning Rufferford Behave.
1. The first pet I remember in my life was when we lived with my grandmother in Livingston, New Jersey. I was two. My grandmother had a wobbly dachshund (Wrinkles) that wobbled around her house and yard. Being a toddler, I was rather wobbly myself at the time, so we made a good pair. My mother has since informed me that Wrinkles was one boring dog. Not off to a good start.
2. The second animal I remember also lived at my grandmother’s house, but did not belong to my grandmother and did not live there until after we moved to Pennsylvania. This was Dinky, the cat, who belonged to my Aunt Mid who was not really my aunt, but whom I called aunt because … well, because she lived with my grandmother. Aunt Mid was a widow (her husband had held a fairly good position with the Otis Elevator Company) who came to live with my grandmother and share living expenses after her husband died.
Aunt Mid was a kind lady with a raspy, smoker’s voice and an adoration for the great Dinky. Every morning, Mid would walk to the Livingston Town Square, buy a newspaper, stop at the bakery for a pastry, walk back to the house, make herself a cup of coffee and settle in to enjoy her danish and a smoke. Breakfast over, she would tie a freshly-ironed ribbon around Dinky’s neck. Less you think Dinky was a sweet little kitten, think again. She was large and gray and MEAN. You could not go near her without her clawing, biting or scratching you. And she lived a long, long cat’s life. During the day, Aunt Mid would say (everytime anyone even went NEAR the door) “Don’t let the cat out!” Secretly, I think both my parents would’ve been more than happy to accidentally “let the cat out.”
Because Dinky had privileges. The most annoying privilege being she was allowed to sleep on the kitchen counter or lazily lie there and watch Grandma or Aunt Mid fix supper. Might be the reason my grandmother did so much backyard grilling.
3. The first pet that was truly mine entered my life when we lived in the apartment over Dad’s church in Pennsylvania. Dad and Mom got me a soft, little kitten whom I promptly and uncreatively named Puff. (Some of you will understand where THAT name came from.) You’ve heard of church mice? We had no church mice because we had a church cat. We lived on a fairly busy street, so instead of allowing Puff outside in the yard, I would open the window of my bedroom and let her out on the porch roof.
Then one hotter-than-hot July, I got the measles, the two-week, in-bed, miss-the-VBS-picnic-kind-of-measles. And somehow while I was lying in my bed, Puff got outside and darted in front of car. Puff went poof!
But alas, Ross Nagley, the friendly gas-station owner from next door saw what happened, gathered up the poofed Puff and took her to his house in the country and buried her. He knew I had the measles (I actually hung around the station A LOT) so he quietly told my parents what he saw happen and what he did about it so that they could wait until the proper moment to gently break the news to me.
I think it was after that that my dad decided we should get some tropical fish.