Diggings: Level 5

We always seemed to have pets of some kind or other. My first recollection is the kitty-who-slept-in-my-crib. My second is a wonderfully large English Sheepdog named Rags, who, I mentioned earlier was poisoned by a neighbor. He lived with us on Rockwell Street. After his death there was a spell when our only pet was a canary named Blondie. Blondie had a husband whose name was Teddy and they and their brood were a happy family. One day Blondie was lying on the floor of the cage, barely breathing. Mother was heart-broken. She tenderly laid her in the oven and turned on the gas (without lighting it!) in order to put poor birdie to sleep painlessly. After a considerable time while three little girls stood in quiet reflection on the meaning of life and death, Mother opened the oven door to remove what she expected to be a dead bird but instead, Blondie flew magestically out of the oven singing triumphantly! and never looking healthier. We were convinced that Mother had planned this dramatic rescue and that gas was beneficial to sick birds.

When finally Blondie was found lying on the bottom of her cage with her poor legs sticking up in the air she got a tremendous sendoff: a burial in an empty butter box in the backyard.

We also had pet turtles. They could be found at the local dime stores in the pet department and cost about 25 cents. Their backs were painted in lurid colors (usually a flower design) and they loved to eat flies and raw hamburger. These were rather boring pets but we made them more interesting by sponsoring turtle races with marbles or jacks used as collateral for the ante. After these poor creatures passed on to their final reward we would throw their poor carcasses to the top of the garage which had a flat roof. After what seemed an appropriate time, on elf the more foolhardily would climb to the roof and retrieve the empty shell. We spent a good deal of time on the roof because baseballs and tennis balls had a propensity for landing on it as well. Finders keepers.

One day, Wesie my little sidekick and I were caught lighting a small campfire under Mrs. Briggs’ back porch. We were playing hobo. No harm was done except for some small amount of smoke damage in her porch and a pair of little girls sent to their room. Our best friend at this time was Roan Cohen who went to church on Saturdays. We were somewhat confused by this switch on Holy Days but Daddy explained to us that Roan and her family went to Temple and that their religion was called the Jewish Religion and their Saturdays were just like our Sundays so we were not to worry about it. Roan’s father owned a drug store which was not too far away from our apartment, but mother insisted on traveling by streetcar to Uncle Art’s drug store which required getting a transfer and switching to another streetcar: first north and then east. It cost 7 cents for adults and 2 cents for children to ride and one could travel all over the city just by cleverly using one transfer- which was free. We went to Uncle Art’s place because he heavily discounted our prescriptions.

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