Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why July 16 sticks in my mind, of The Story of Snowball

Today's date kept rattling around in my brain this morning until I remembered why: July 16, 1960, I think, my mother got a call from the train depot in Dallas. Basically, it was "Lady, come get your stinkin' cat!" and it wasn't just a figure of speech.

My mother and my dad's sister Pauline had tried to one-up each other two weeks previously when we were in Pennsylvania for one of Daddy's high school reunions. Mother, a great cat lover, had admired a long-haired black tom cat with a white spot on his chest. He was semi-wild, a barn cat, disposable I'm sure to my aunt. If you can catch him, Mother had challenged, send him to me.

One cat crated on the train. I still remember the pink "straw" in the bottom of the crate. We installed him in the one-car garage with the gravel/dirt floor and left the screen door open to the house so he could get to know our two brother kittens, born April 4, that year. It took a couple of weeks before Mother felt comfortable letting him into the house. By that time they'd all made friends through the door. Snowball--my color-blind dad's joke and the only reason he said we could keep him (what were we going to do otherwise but I don't think that was brought up)--was more than half-grown and took the kittens under his paternal (snipped out of him immediately btw) paw and would regularly give them a good washing.

Snowball soon took his barn ways to running the neighborhood. He regularly spent the night in the dog house next door, back in the corner so the dog could bar the door from the wind and cold. He ate at every house on the block. He had landed in the lap of cat-luxury and he was smart enough to know it.

He died my senior year in high school. I can't remember why. But I'll never forget Snowball.

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