Monday, November 23, 2015

The Cat Burglar

It is that time of year again....Thanksgiving.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, Thanksgiving was never a favorite holiday of mine when I was a fact, it was that dreaded day where I had to sit at a table full of food that I did not like.  We usually had guests and I had to be on my best behavior, which did not mean staring at my plate with a small dab of mashed potatoes, a tiny slice of turkey and three beans from the horrid lima bean specialty that everyone raved about.  I could never understand (and still don't) how people would request that my father make that dish.  I think I hated about every kind of traditional Thanksgiving food.  Sweet potatoes were almost as bad as the lima beans.  The bribe of eating the food on your plate (which was minuscule) and then I could have dessert did not work because I did not like pumpkin pie either.  Sometimes Maxine would fix a mince meat pie which would about put me over the edge.  At least I was not expected to try that.  Oh how happy I was when sometimes a guest would bring a pecan pie.  I would even eat four lima beans if my reward was a piece of pecan pie.
This is our Barn House, from the back.  I am in the tree. 1966

By the time I got in high school, I had learned to smile and join in the chit chat as I choked down a small amount of what everyone else was calling a delicious feast.  And I was.  My father spent a lot of time planning and cooking while my mother took care of decorating, setting the table and boiling the water for the potatoes.  What I do like about Thanksgiving is that I have some fun memories.  Once, we had dinner at Linda's in-laws, Ed and Em Foster's home (the only time our feast was not at our place).  As soon as we said "Amen" to the prayer...all of the food started sliding toward my sister and Barb.  The table leg had broken and had fallen to the floor.  Linda and Barb were quick to catch the sliding dishes and bowls of food while holding up the table. Ed solved the problem by stacking a pile of books where the table leg belonged.  Fortunately, he was a college professor and books were in great supply.  I truly enjoyed that dinner.  The best thing (other than the near catastrophe of food falling to the floor) was that Em served her plum pudding with hard sauce. Wow!  Here was something I actually liked!

It has taken me some time to set up the story for this post. This takes place in our house in Toledo.  We had just moved to what I called our Barn House.  Our old one eyed, jagged ears, no tail black cat (Black Beauty) had died a few months after we moved there.  Dad, Linda and I saw an ad in the paper for a Siamese kitten...and one day we brought little Bangy (short for Bangkok) home.  The first thing that cute little blue eyed kitty did was climb the custom drapes that Maxine had installed the week before. (Poor Bangy was declawed (front only) soon after per Maxine's demand.)

Here I am holding Black Beauty, the one eyed, no tailed cat.
This was probably 1966

This Thanksgiving took place in 1966.  That was when it was no big deal to leave a frozen turkey in the sink all night to thaw out.  My dad did this every Thanksgiving.  This year was eventful in that when he walked downstairs he noticed pieces of plastic making a path through the living room, dining room and into the kitchen.  To his horror, in the kitchen sink, the once plump turkey had bits of pieces torn from its breast.  (Bangy was sleeping on the couch, his fat tummy rising and falling as he dreamed little cat dreams.)

Those of you fortunate to have know my father, (Mort) know that he was a most patient man.  I rarely saw him get angry.  Most people would have been angry with the cat, but my dad realized that he should have taken precautions to prevent Bangy from getting to the turkey.  Dad was able to "repair" the damage and later served a lopsided turkey.  We always had guests for Thanksgiving and they laughed about the cat eating the turkey...even Maxine thought it was funny (once she realized our guests were not grossed out about having the cat eat part of the turkey) , and Bangy was forgiven with a small meal of cooked turkey.

This was the only picture I could find of Bangy.  I was going to some dance with
a guy named Bob.  Maybe Linda has a better picture of Bangy.

The story does not end there.  The year is 1967.  We had the same guests as well as others. (Sometimes our family of four would have twenty or more join us)  This time, my dad put a heavy pot lid over turkey and wedged it in the sink.  He also put Bangy in the basement for the night. The next morning he was greeted with pieces of plastic in the living room, dining room and kitchen.  The lid was shoved to one side and the wounded turkey looked pathetic.  Bangy was washing his paws while sitting in a sunbeam.

"THAT DARN CAT!!" was all my father said....his voice slightly raised, but he had a smile on his face.  He had been outsmarted by a cat!  Again, he repaired the wounds and again our guests were presented with a turkey with a pothole right in the middle of the breast.  I don't know who was blamed, but one of us must not have closed the basement door completely.

Shall I continue?  It is 1968.  This year Bangy spent the night in the basement again.  Poor Bangy was used to roaming the house and honoring us if he chose to sleep in our bed. This was sad for all of us, but we could not have another year with the turkey breast mangled.  We all stood by the basement door and watched my dad check it to see that it was latched.

My father knew something was wrong when he saw Bangy sleeping on the couch the next morning. There were those dreaded plastic pieces strewn on the floor.  Yes, the turkey breast was chewed...again.  "THAT DARN CAT!"  Bangy looked up with sleepy eyes, stood up, stretched and walked into the kitchen, purring and winding around my dad's legs.  How could my dad be mad at this kitty....but did the cat get out of the basement?

It was not until a few months later when Linda and I were making something in the kitchen that we learned Bangy's escape method.  We had put him in the basement while we were cooking.  Thump, Thump, Thump!  There was quite a thumping and banging downstairs.  It was getting closer!  And then...SWISH...out flies Bangy from the clothes chute.  He had braced himself and walked straight up (there was no angle).  I still don't know how he did it as it was slick metal all the way to the basement.

Once we told Dad what happened, he got his toolbox, wood and saw and built a compartment to catch the clothes.  He put a strong door on it with a strong latch.

The year is 1969.  Dad sees no plastic pieces on the floor.  In the kitchen a perfect turkey greets him. It will be the first Thanksgiving Dinner with a whole turkey on the table....except for one tiny slice.  Bangy is yowling to get out of the basement.  Dad opens the door.  "I finally outsmarted you, didn't I?" he said as he slipped a tiny piece of turkey into Bangy's bowl.

This is a family photo of us when Linda and I were in high school...about
the time that we had the mystery of the turkey eating cat.