Sunday, July 09, 2006


Yesterday was a sad day for Elaine. Her beautiful Siamese cat, and constant companion for almost 16 years, Buf-fee, died in her arms as we were rushing to the vets. The vet said that she had either had a heart attack or a blood clot problem. We buried her at Elaine's house in the backyard, near where she had buried two other Siamese cats, Ting and Pic-see.

As Buffee was dying, she reached out and patted Elaine's cheek a few times, as if to show how much she appreciated all the love that Elaine had given her during her life. Buffee has been going downhill for about a year, but had been making some progress recently, so her death was a shock to us.

Buffee, in the tradition of Siamese cats, guarded her mistress all the time. Until she got to know me, she would bite and scratch me if it looked like I was going to harm Elaine. She was a very talkative cat.. she had many many different sounds, and when she wanted to know where Elaine was, she said: "Ma!"

Once, when Elaine was singing the unofficial AARP song (AARP AARP AARP, etc., to the tune of Jingle Bells, the cat began to sing as well. This duet was repeated often.

Buffee was also an alarm cat. She would come upstairs at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 (if necessary) and howl. she couldn't understand why humans stay in bed so long. This used to drive me crazy and I would yell at her to shut up. I also got upset when she decided that the litter pan was not clean enough and would drop brown balls here and there on the rug. But, other than these two characteristics, she was a lovable cat and for the past year or so had let me pet her and rub her ears.

Buffee thought that she was queen of our house.. however, my male tuxedo cat, Lucky (actually, Luciano Hoodini de Tuxedo) thought that he was king of our house. (Names: Luciano, because his cries when I got him reminded me of Pavarotti; Hoodini, because I used to lock him in the laundry room at night so he wouldn't try to sleep with me and he found out how to unlock the door with his paws; de Tuxedo, because he was black, with a white scarf and white paws.)

Lucky and Buffee did not get along well at first.. she would hiss at him and he would bop her on the head (not hard though). In time, they grew to tolerate each other. Today, Lucky has been looking around.. I guess he will miss Buffee.

As the vet wisely said to us: "Death is part of life." To live forever, is do things that people will remember us by.. and therefore, we will live in the minds of those people, even though we are gone. So to, Buffee, we will remember the things that she did fondly for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Crowded Field and Childhood Work

The headline of my local paper yesterday read: Field Crowded with Republicans. This immediately caused a vision in my head of the local sports complex in the town where I grew up. It was called: Sargeant Field.. and in my vision, I saw it filled with a lot of people who looked just like President Bush, Cheney, Rumfeld and Limbaugh, smiling, and congratulating each other on their importance to the people of the world.

When I was ten years old, I began to work at Sargeant Field, selling peanuts and popcorn at the ball games, and helping at the booths for circuses and carnivals. I was a good peanut salesman.. in fact, I was so good that I got 10 cents per $1 sale, while the other kids only got 5 cents. And when I helped in setting up or closing down a circus, the bosses always let me stand in the payment line twice and get 2 50 cent pieces instead of the normal one. This was a lot of money for a kid in the 1940's. Whenever I made any money, of course, I had to bring some home to my family. We were very poor in those days and anything I could earn made a big difference in how we ate.

Another way to get income at the time was accosting some of the many sailors in town and begging for a dime to see a movie. Usually the sailors would give in, especially when they were trying to impress a girl. (One of our "gang" would pay the price of a movie at the Empire Theater and then sneak down the emergency exit stairs and open the door to let all of the rest of us in. We could then watch the movies over and over for hours, stuffing ourselves on candy bought with the money we didn't have to spend to get in.)

Other income was the few coins we retrieved from the polluted water around the Navy ships at the State Pier. Sailors would throw coins into the murky, oil-slicked water and laugh at us kids diving in and finding them among the broken bottles and beer cans.

But, we did have other, more legitimate ways to make money: Mowing grass, shoveling snow, running errands, sweeping store floors, delivering groceries. I also had a very large paper route. I also got up at 4 am for a year to deliver milk door to door. (Even though I never had enough sleep, I did get to drink all the healthful milk I wanted.)

We did do a lot of things that we did not get paid for during World War II. We collected paper and cardboard (lots and lots of it!) for the War Effort. We also took our wagons around to businesses and collected bottle caps, also for the War Effort. And, of course, we took our "fat cans" somewhere, also for the War Effort. (that was the fat from cooking.. it was poured into empty tin cans, where it hardened.) We also shopped for our families, using ration stamps and tokens.

What do the kids today do???