Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bird Tales


This little essay mentions the mockingbird that my grandmother kept as a pet for awhile.

Sometimes I wonder if punishment awaits me for feeling more sympathy and concern for animals than for the hapless victims of world wide tragedies that parade across the TV screen until the blood and gore lose their power to shock and dismay.  Surely this is wrong of me, but I cannot feel a suitable guilt.  So be it.

For two days I have been observing a drama, a struggle for survival in my own back yard and it seems a little Bosnian conflict of closer concern.  A pair of blue jays continue to fight valiantly to save their baby from hunger and stalking cats.  He is fully feathered but not quite able to fly.  Velveeta, the next door manx and Pawla, Cindy’s six-toed tabby, were waiting their chance to snatch him when I first realized the problem.  The two parents scolded and dive-bombed and routed both cats.  Crippled as I am by semi-successful knee surgery, I still felt impelled to help if I could.  Crippled as the baby jay was by his inabilities, he could still just keep out of my reach until Nipper perceived the situation, dashed in and held him down with his muzzle until I could pick him up, feeling my own head being under fluttering attack by the parent birds.

A few years ago I would probably have caged and fed the little critter for a few days until he was better able to manage on his own.  Now, mindful of my own shortcomings and the admonitions of wild lifers to let nature take its course, I placed the nestling in the crotch of the elm tree and hoped he’d have sense enough to stay there.  He did for a while, but later I heard him sounding off in the clump of monkey grass beneath my bathroom window.  Both parents were perched in the fence nearby.  Also keeping a concerned eye on the situation was good neighbor cardinal, who reminded me of the way my mother used to wring her hands and worry about the neighbor’s small children playing in the street.  It was so plain that the cardinal was as concerned about that baby jay as if it had been one of her own.

I have noticed before now the curious relationship between different species of birds that frequent the yard.  The mockers seem to consider themselves a bit above all the others.  Blue jays and cardinals consider themselves equals and co-exist in friendly fashion, sharing bushes and bird bath without antagonism.  Doves and woodpeckers pass through peacefully enough, stopping only briefly.  They all agree on hating the black birds and putting them off the property with dispatch.  This is no doubt due to their nest-raiding, baby eating habits.  Nobody likes a kidnapper.

Never considering myself to be a card carrying bird lover, I have nevertheless had some interesting experiences with them over the years.  I remember coming home from a ramble in the woods feeling saddened by finding a nest of little bleached skeletons and wondering what had happened to the mother.  Later on I smuggled home a meadowlark with a broken wing found lying on the school ground.  I hid him in a shoebox inside my desk and took him home that afternoon, splinted and bandaged the wing, and placed him in a cage with food and water.  When the wing was healed and usable again, I set the bird free, and felt a tug when he kept returning to me, unwilling to leave.

A few years later, I picked up a tiny mocker that was almost drowned in a cow track filled with water from an overnight shower.  My mother wrapped his bedraggled little body in a piece of old cloth and laid him on the open oven door to dry out.  We all considered him a lost cause, but we fed him every hour, minded the cats outdoors, and talked to him until he took heart and decided to live.  Knowing it was not legal to keep a mocker in captivity, we fully intended to set him free as soon as he was old enough to go, but we reckoned without him.  He refused to go.  Placed on the front walk, he huddled down and hid his head under his wing, terrified to move.  It was keep him or let him be eaten by the cats.  He lived in his big cage on the front porch for two years, singing so loudly on moonlight nights that someone would have to drape a shirt around his cage so that those in the house could sleep.  He never knew the joys of tree-top tumbling song on full-moon nights.

I’m glad to have 30 eye-witnesses to attest one of my bird tales.  This happened during my school teaching days in Smiley.  Sparrows built nests in the drains along the roof of the two-story high auditorium wing of the high school building just across the school yard from my class room.  One morning we became aware that one of the baby birds had tumbled from a nest and the parents had him located on the ground below.  There was absolutely no way that we could help rescue him.  Thirty pairs of eyes watched during lessons, some trusting their teacher to do some miracle and save that baby bird.  After a miserable, suspenseful hour, we saw something we had trouble believing.  The parents managed somehow to maneuver their baby onto the back of one of them and flew him back up to their lofty nest.  We may not have gotten all our lessons done that day, but thirty kids and 1 teacher went home with a deep feeling of satisfaction.  We had seen our miracle.

Now I’m hoping for another one.  Somehow I hope that baby jay manages to beat the odds and survive the dozen cats and thousands of fire ants that could do him in.  He’s made it for two days.  All is quiet in the yard this morning, except for bird song.  Rejoicing or requiem?  I cannot tell.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wish It Was Still Around

This little essay comes from a small pile of notebook pages that I just unearthed while shifting things around for the great remodel of 2012-2013.  I think it was intended to be included in one of the annual family newsletters, but it may have been something that she wrote with the intention of sending it to Reminisce Magazine.

Last night I tossed a package of popcorn into the microwave and as I stood there waiting for the last few kernels to explode, my mind recalled the process of performing this same task in those long past childhood days of fifty years ago.

We grew our own popcorn patch then, a few acres near the fields of regular corn.  At harvest time we stored the small ears in one corner of the corn crib.  About once a week the five kids in the family would race to the barn and bring a bucket full of shucked ears to the house.  Then followed the task of removing the small, tightly packed kernels from the cobs.  The older kids showed the younger ones how to rub the cob of the first ear and twist it just so in order to shell the rest.

Mother would have a hot fire built in the black kitchen stove by the time we were finished with the shelling.  The cobs were always added to the fire.

When the big dish pan was mounded with hot popcorn, drizzled with a little melted country butter and lightly sprinkled with salt, the feast began.  The whole family gathered around one pan, chattering, laughing, sharing school experiences, plans for the future, disappointments, and recent triumphs.  We shared more than popcorn and fed more than we knew.  It was a feast of family togetherness.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What's Cooking?

Just ran across a list of menu ideas that Mother put together at some point. I remember that she got tired of cooking the same old thing over and over and decided that a nice list would give her options to switch things up. So, if you are looking for menu ideas, here you go:

1. Butterbeans, spinach, cornbread
2. Pinto beans, rice, macaroni & tomatoes
3. Pork chops baked with veggies
4. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy
5. Chicken fried steak, fries, gravy
6. Baked chicken and rice
7. Broiled steak, baked potatoes, salad
8. Roast beef with veggies
9. Meat pie, salad
10. Enchiladas, green salad
11. Tacos or chalupas
12. Hamburgers and fries
13. Smothered hamburger patties, rice with gravy
14. Pepper steak oriental with rice
15. Hoppin' John
16. Spaghetti, garlic bread/toast, salad
17. Chili mac (variation topped with shredded cheddar)
18. Hotdogs, chips
19. Stew, buttered cornbread
20. Chili topped with fritos and grated cheese
21. Tuna salad, chips
22. Sausage steamed with sauerkraut
23. Barbecued wieners
24. Ham with rice or gravy
25. Stuffed peppers
26. Mexican casserole, salad
27. Fish, English peas, buttered potatoes or macaroni and cheese
28. Baked turkey, dressing
29. Pancakes with sausage or bacon
30. Belgian waffles
31. Fresh cabbage with steamed sausage links
32. Tater-tot casserole
33. Omelet with biscuits and jelly, bacon
34. 15-bean soup with hot or garlic sausage coins
35. Chicken posole soup
36. Smothered steak
37. Crockpot Ragout
38. Beef Stroganoff with sour cream
39. Egg/sausage & potato burritos
40. Beef and bean burritos
41. Fajitas with guacamole and tortilla chips
42. Meatloaf, veggies, mashed potatoes
43. Lasagna, salad, garlic bread/toast
44. Creamed beef over noodles
45. Shrimp and/or fish fillets, potatoes
46. Bean pot soup (Thelma's recipe from file - nowhere to be found)
47. Barbecued ribs or brisket (see recipe from file - have no idea unless it refers
to a seasoning rub she was particularly fond of)
48. Beef stir fry
49. Chicken stir fry
50. Roasted chicken
51. Frittata
52. Fried spaghetti (I don't recommend it)
53. Big baked potato with all the fixin's
54. Potato soup
55. Baked Ham, sweet potatoes
56. Beef tips over rice or noodles
57. Ravioli, french bread, salad
58. Chicken & dumplings

LSW

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rusty

When I found the following short story in some old records, I initially thought it was true. But then I realized it was one of Mother's works of fiction, with elements of reality. There indeed was a parade of odd pets through her childhood and there were four children in the family at the time the story was written, probably about 1949. But, to the best of my knowledge, the family never lived in a two-story house and they never suffered a fire. From the looks of the paper, this story was turned in as a class assignment, possibly during Mother's Freshman year in college.

My childhood was generously populated with pets ranging from flying squirrels to mice and even a meadowlark, who, after carrying a broken wing in an improvised sling for two weeks, refused to leave. There was an unbelievably awkward rooster who came racing to me when I whistled. There was a cat--tawny, mysterious Tiger--whom I will never forget.

But the pet that will always hold first place in my memory is a dog. Rusty wasn't just a plain dog. To us children, he was the most beautiful animal in the world. We showered affection upon him, and often denied our childish longing for the last piece of pie so that we could give it to Rusty, and watch his big, dark eyes shine as he ate. We shared our candy with him, and spent hours brushing his rust colored coat until it glinted gold as he ran in the sun.

We loved the big shepherd with all our hearts, and he returned our affection impartially, although it sometimes seemed that my baby brother held the biggest place in his heart. Rusty guarded the year-old toddler with anxious care. It was his favorite trick, and one that made our neighbors marvel, to lift the child by his shirt, and carry him, kicking and laughing, to my mother.

There came a day when we were grateful for Rusty's intelligence and faithfulness.

It was only a few days after Christmas of 1942 when disaster struck us. I woke at 2:30 in the morning, and sat up in bed, staring sleepily at the dim outlines of the window. The house was still and quiet. But outside Rusty was barking and howling insanely. I jumped from the bed and ran to the window to investigate. The floor was queerly hot beneath my bare feet. Outside Rusty yelped as if in agony. Sick with dread, I threw up the window. By leaning far out, I could see the bottom floor of the house. The windows framed and held the orange glow of fire. Flames crawled sickeningly swift up the vine on the kitchen wall.

Screaming hoarsely, I ran down the hall toward my parents' bedroom. As I reached the door, they met me, and Dad swung me up in his arms as he shouted to wake the three younger children. Smoke, thick and choking, welled up the stairway. Outside neighbors gathered and shouted frantic instructions. Fire crackled and roared as portions of the floor began to melt away near us. Huddled together, coughing from the smoke and heat, we made our way down the stairs. The west and north walls of the living room were sheets of flame as we ran through into the cold wind outside.

Neighbors sobbed with relief as we stumbled into view. Rusty whined anxiously and pressed against me as I stood shivering and crying. The house was almost completely devoured.

"Where's little Bobby?" a woman suddenly cried. She had failed to see my father carrying my brother to safety. "Bobby's still in there!" she screamed, and Rusty pressed closer to me. Spying him, she dragged at his collar. I fought at her hands, trying to tell her over the roar of the flames that he was safe.

"Go get Bobby, Rusty," she shrieked, "get little Bobby!"

Rusty bristled and howled wildly as he broke away from my restraining grasp.

"Come back, Rusty!" I sobbed, but he was gone. Back into that raging inferno he plunged, driven by love for his little companion.

I ran closer to the house, and heard Rusty scream in agony. There was a glimpse of the faithful dog near the door, his coat in flames, just before a section of the ceiling fell and trapped him inside. This seemed a signal, for almost immediately, the entire second floor crashed through and I turned away, crying bitterly.

We finally forgave the poor neighbor who was responsible for Rusty's death, and even accepted the puppy she gave us to replace him. We didn't tell her it couldn't be done. Rusty has been gone for seven years, but his memory will always live in the hearts of the children he loved.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Valedictory Address

The following valedictory address was given by my mother on May 28, 1948, at 8:00 PM, Elgin High School, Elgin, Texas:

We, the graduating class of 1948, of Elgin High School, have been looking forward to this time with pleasurable anticipation. Graduation has been a goal for which we have striven with at least some measure of zeal. Day by day and year after year we have struggled on with our minds directed toward a definite objective. Now that graduating time has come we rejoice, yet there is a feeling of sadness when we realize that we are leaving for all time these familiar halls, these teachers whom we have learned to admire, and our own classmates with whom we will never again be associated in just the same way. We experience a pang that is almost like regret when we remember that this chapter of our life is ended, that we are writing at the close of it--"The End"--and turning toward new scenes and new associations.

Knowing that these things are true, and regretting the breaking away from old associates, nevertheless, we rejoice that our way may now spread out into the broader avenues of the life ahead.

The world is waiting for us with many needs to be met today. In all fields of endeavor, men and women are asking questions and trying to find the answers. Social, economic, and political struggles mark the course of mankind in the present age. Life for the world today is not easy, nor has it been easy for some decades.

As we say farewell here, we are going out into a world where hope and despair are mingled, where laughter and tears flow together. We may well pause to consider the seriousness of the step which we are about to take.

It is a time when we might take to heart words spoken by Christ in His famous Sermon on the Mount, words with real meaning and which are filled with practical wisdom that may be daily applied to all tasks. As individual graduates we do look to the future with expectations of accomplishing much that is worthwhile. We anticipate making our lives valuable to others as well as ourselves, otherwise we shall fail in our mission which Christ made clear when He said, "Ye are the salt of the earth".

It may be for us to heal and purify the streams of life. It may be our lot to fight for the preservation of the ideals of the human race. Our way may lead to the heights of prominence, or the world may be little conscious of our presence. Still our influence may be felt, our lives help make the earth a little better than it would be had we not passed this way. It is not essential that we gain fame or fortune, but it is important that we willingly assume the responsibility of using our time and talent in lifting humanity to a higher level. Sometimes it may be for us to take our places in the world in such a modest and unassuming manner that what we do is lost in the intermingling with others. If such be our lot, let us still recognize that we can be seasoning for the dish, or in other words "salt of the earth", even though we cannot be the garnishing.

In bidding each other farewell, may we resolve that we shall do our part to help solve the problems with which the world is confronted.

We hope that we shall go forth and in the years to come do honor to you, our friends and instructors. We hope that you will never have reason to be disappointed in the course we follow nor the results we gain. We earnestly desire to make use of what you have done for us as a foundation for the building of lives and services of which you will be proud.

We thank you for all you have done for us. We thank you for all you have tried to do, and as we move up and the next class in line takes our places, we would bespeak for them cordial and continued cooperation on their part, for we know from experience that the people of Elgin will help in every way they can.

The very fact that we are going on speaks eloquently of how well you, our leaders, have done your work and how fine and cooperative has been the spirit of Elgin.

It gives us joy that we have succeeded in completing the course of study prescribed for us here, and that we are now ready for the next step of our journey up the heights of knowledge. We shall be students as long as we live, and in the years to come we shall look back with great appreciation of what you have made possible for us through your zeal and leadership, for to educate is to lead out--to guide from the known forward into the greater unknown.

We are glad that we are going on. We are glad that further privileges await us. We are glad that we have measured up in some degree at least, to the expectation and hope of our parents who have striven for the best for us and have always been willing to sacrifice for our sake.

We thank you for the visions you have give us of what life may be made to mean. You may think that we, in our youth, have taken such as our due and taken it thoughtlessly all too often, but in this hour we would assure you that "the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts," and that all too frequently what is in our hearts does not come to our lips to find expression in words, because of our inability to be articulate.

We shall always hold in mind tenderly and gratefully all that these years have meant to us, all they have taught us, for we are inevitably "a part of all we have met". Never can we get away from the influence, the example, the interest and the guidance of these years, and to you, our instructors and leaders, it is with deep gratitude and stirring emotion that we say, "Farewell".

Mother was two years younger than most of her class, having skipped two grades along the way. She graduated at the age of 16 and went on to attend Mary Hardin-Baylor College in Belton, Texas. She taught elementary school children for almost thirty years before retiring.

The class of 1948 had the memory of World War II fresh in their minds. Many of their older brothers and relatives had seen undescribable horror and some had not returned. They were born during the Great Depression and witnessed first hand the hardships of that era. They came of age in a rapidly changing world and that night must have been a time of mixed anticipation and trepidation.

Included in the little booklet that contains the transcript of the valedictory address is a listing of the member of the Elgin High Senior Class of 1948:

Bobby Barton
James Behrend
Clarence Blomberg
Nancy Burke
Rose Marie Carlson
Carlie Jean Clopton

Pat Conway
Peggy Creel
Fred Creppon
Patricia Dannelley
Bill Davis
William Dyer
Irene Eklund
Lillian Goetz
Billie Jean Greenhaw
Christine Gunn
P. A. Helms
James Hicks
Nettie Frances Hodge
Marcy Kemp
Jerry King
Rita King
Laverne Kreidel
Lois Larson
Wanda Lewis
Mary Anne Lundell
Ralph Lundgren
L. D. McKenzie
Bill Morrison
Donald Nance
Faye Owens
Reg Owens
Eddy Pate
Leonard Prinz
Rhoda Ryden
Betty Samuelson (the salutatorian)
Uvaldo Santos
Jessie Lee Scott
Sammie Smith
Mary Jo Snowden
Dora Mae Sowell
James Stacks
Charles Stenholm
Dora Thiele
Howard Truitt
George Vrazel
Jane Whitehead
Eva Grace Wilson
Elsie Wolf



LSW

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Career For Marjorie

The child stood irresolutely at the door, her small, unhappy face framed in carefully brushed and curled brown ringlets. Her fingers, hot and damp from mixed fear and excitement, left crumple marks on the stiff white skirt of her organdy dress.

"Mother--"

The slender woman at the dressing table turned and swept appraising eyes over the little figure framed in the doorway.

"What is it now, Marjorie? Can't you see I'm busy? Just a minute and I'll pin that sash a bit tighter. And stop twisting your skirt with your hand!"

"Mother, I--I don't want to go. Please, can't we--"

Her mother turned again, her lips set in the determined way so familiar to Marjorie.

"We've been over all that before, Marjorie. What do you think I've paid for all those lessons for? For you to stay at home on the day of the recital like a crybaby? Haven't you any idea what it's cost me to give you the lessons I never had? Now stand still, and pull in your stomach while I pin this."

"Mother, I tried to tell you--I--I can't play as good as the others." Her voice trembled on the brink of a torrent of tears.

"You're just saying that because you're scared. Now go wait for me in the living room." She reached for her lipstick. "The very idea." She carefully tucked a strand of graying hair beneath the blue hat, and kicked her houseshoes toward the bed.

"Marjorie!"

The small figure reappeared in the doorway.

"Stop biting your nails, and tell me if my slip is showing."

"No. You look very nice, Mother."

"Well, so will you if you'll just stop fidgeting. How will you win that contest next month and make your acceptance speech if you don't get over that nervousness?" She picked up her bag and gave her hat a final twitch as she left the room.

Once in the car and on the way, Mrs. Harkness felt better. She had begun to have misgivings, to doubt that she would even get Marjorie to the recital, to say nothing of getting her to perform. She glanced down at the miserable child beside her. So silly to have stage fright. But she would be all right once she was seated at the piano. Mrs. Harkness sighed.

"Marjorie, you should have had blonde hair. It would look so much nicer on the stage."

The large auditorium was almost filled when they arrived. Mrs. Harkness stole a quick look at her compact, gave Marjorie a last brush, and started through the door. Miss Billet, Marjorie's teacher, rushed up and took charge of the child, giving Mrs. Harkness a bright smile that revealed her excellent dental work.

"Oh, I thought perhaps Marjorie might not be coming, Mrs. Harkness. I'm so glad you did get here on time."

Mrs. Harkness nodded her thanks rather stiffly. Didn't the woman know that she would have called and asked the program to be delayed a few minutes if something had happened? After all, she must know this was an important day to Marjorie. Mrs. Harkness had already planned polite answers to all the congratulations. She thought it might be well to feign indifference. No one need know that she was just as much determined for Marjorie to be a success as Marjorie was herself. It would make up for her not being able to have taken the music training she had so desired in her own youth.

Mrs. Harkness found a seat near the stage, and settled herself to wait. Repressed excitement sent hot flashes through her body. She hardly heard the first child who performed. The applause was generous, but not enthusiastic. Mrs. Harkness smiled to herself. Wait until Marjorie finished! She found herself wishing that she had had the time to listen to the child practice more often. She had not actually heard Marjorie play since the first few lessons.

She glanced down at the program. Marjorie was third from the bottom of the list. She wondered what she was doing now. Perhaps she should have gone backstage with her to be sure the child didn't get all wrinkled before time for her appearance.

Ah, what wouldn't she have given for an opportunity such as this when she was Marjorie's age! She remembered her passionate love for music, her desire for a chance to study. It was a feeling mixed with intense bitterness. Mrs. Harkness' mother had been dead many years now, but the memory of her still caused her daughter's mouth to twist in a wry expression of deep dislike. The stern, determined woman she remembered with uneasiness even now, had been the only barrier between her and a career in music.

She remembered the day when her piano teacher had advised her mother to give his gifted pupil the chance to develop the talent that slumbered in the fingertips of her tapering hands. She remembered her own tears and pleading, and the set lines of her mother's face as she had replied that her daughter would enter nurses training the following year, the silent manner in which she paid the teacher, a manner clearly indicating that there would be no more occasion for the weekly payments.

Mrs. Harkness shuddered, and did not notice the puzzled look given her by the man seated next to her. She was not hearing the music at all. She was thinking of how she had been trained as a nurse, just as her mother had declared she would be. She was still a nurse. And with every year that passed, with every line that deepened in her face, she grew to hate it more and to despise the memory of her mother.

Thank heaven Marjorie had not been denied so! At least she had the consolation of knowing that her own daughter would be given the chances she had never had. Her mind came back to the music, and her finger moved down the program. Three more before Marjorie. She thrust all thoughts of the past from her mind. It would do no good to remember and regret. She had her own child to work and plan for now, and in some way, through her, Mrs. Harkness would at last realize her own dream. After today would come other recitals, prizes, recognition, scholarships.

She would forget her childhood fancies after today when she saw the acclaim and the pleasure her music could bring to her. Mrs. Harkness understood that thrill. She felt it now in anticipation for Marjorie. Only one more to perform.

She thought fleetingly of Marjorie's behavior that morning. Strange. She herself would never have been afraid. Her fears had always been forgotten in the pulsing joy of the music she created. She smiled faintly, thinking of Marjorie's silly idea that she wanted to be a nurse like her mother. Children were so foolish. She was always bandaging hurt animals, splinting broken dolls' legs, playing doctor to her playmates.

Suddenly Mrs. Harkness thought again of her mother, a slender, determined woman who closed her eyes and heart to the pleas of a miserably unhappy child. She sat up stiffly, her mind a sudden confusion of pictures that began falling into a meaningful pattern. She got to her feet and pushed her way to the aisle, stumbling over feet, murmuring quick apologies, not seeing the annoyed glances thrown her way. She almost ran toward the door leading backstage.

The little girl in the stiff organdy dress sat by the window, staring out, waiting. Her short, chubby fingers, so unlike the tapering hands of her mother, clutched her skirt nervously, leaving damp crumple marks. Mrs. Harkness swallowed the ache in her throat, and the line around her mouth seemed to become softer.

"Let's go home, Marjorie."

This short story appeared in the Spring 1952 Baylorian, Mother's last semester in college.

LSW

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fancy Was Her Name

She was a tiny black Manchester/Chihuahua mix, named for the Bobbie Gentry song that was popular the year she was born. The name was chosen partly because she was given to us by a neighbor reported to be a retired madam. (In spite of her reputation, I liked her better than many of those who looked askance at her.)

Fancy's personality developed slowly. She did not become the lovable dictator she was destined to be until she was about five years old. Then she decided that it was time to take us in hand and train us to serve her better. She saw that I put a glass of water on the nighstand at night, so she let me know that she wanted a glass of water for wee hour drinks, too. If I forgot, she sat on the side of the bed and stared fixedly at the place where her glass should be, giving me occasional sideways looks. When I woke at night and reached for my water glass, she got up and waited for her turn.


Fancy looks for her glass

Some animals don't seem to care one way or the other about music, but Fancy loved it. With exceptions. She despised Barbra Streisand records, giving us dirty looks and leaving the room if we played them. Her favorite singer was Don Williams. She even had a favorite song by him - Lay Down Beside Me. When it was played, she melted with satisfaction. We were driving down the highway once, with her in her usual middle position, when that song came on over the radio. She jumped up and looked at the radio and at us as if to say "How did they get our song?"

She loved to ride between Cindy and me on the front seat, where she could put her feet against one of us and her head on the other. We rode many miles, chatting back and forth. If we fell silent for awhile, Fancy would place a paw on the arm of the one whose turn it was to speak.

Her idea of taking a walk was to lie on her back in your arms while you did the work. Nothing escaped her notice and it was always entertaining to take her somewhere such as the sea shore where she had never been and watch her reactions to new smells and sounds. Seagulls fascinated her, but she did not care much for the waves that kept chasing her.

Fancy takes a walk at the seashore

We enjoyed her company for eleven years. I'll always regret that I was not home when she died. Cindy was with her and David buried her beneath my bedroom window. For months after she was gone we sometimes thought we heard her crossing the floor, nails clicking. If ever an animal was able to haunt her old surroundings, Fancy would be the one. There is no marker on her grave, but her memory will never fade in the hearts of those who knew and loved her.

This essay was written June 11, 1992, during a period when Mother was writing an assorted lot of memories.

Fancy was one of the special dogs in our lives. I have no doubt that she haunted us and I've sometimes suspected that she reincarnated in the persona of Bebop, another special dog who came into our lives a few years after we lost her. Bebop was born knowing he had the ability to become our benevolent dictator and set about his mission to take over from the beginning. Many of his traits were reminiscent of Miss Fancy and he had the same appreciation for gentle country music and a raging dislike of popular music.


LSW