Monday, October 20, 2014

What Would You Do with Lamb's Ear?

October 20, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Well, actually this weekend I've been out visiting Miss Sally on the farm. It's been great October weather. The sun has been shining and the trees are gorgeous. I'm hoping it won't rain for a week so the leaves won't fall off. It's always sort of sad when the leaves fall off. At least until you get used to all the bare branches and the cold weather. 

But look at the plant I found. Miss Sally says it's mullein or lamb's ear. I like the name lamb's ear best. Whoever way back when, maybe even Adam in the Garden of Eden, must have touched one of the leaves and thought it felt like a lamb's ear. The leaves are all soft and fuzzy. Miss Sally says that's why frontier folk used it for toilet paper. At least that's what she heard. Plus, she says it made a great bandage when somebody got hurt out in the wilderness. I think that's really neat, don't you? 

Miss Sally knows all about plants and what they're good for. She says you can even make a tea out of these leaves or boil it for dye. Doesn't sound like something I'd want to drink!! 

Do you like learning about plants and the funny names they have? What's a plant that you think has a funny name?

Now it's time to check in to see what's happening with Bailey and Lucinda. Last week the old dog, Skelley was running back into the abandoned house the bulldozer was about to knock down. Remember, if you missed part of the story, you can read it all so far by clicking on the Bailey's Bug link up top of my article here. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last week)

Chapter 7

   "Stop him!" Lucinda yelled at Bailey.
   Bailey looked from the cat to the hole Skelley had slid through. 
   On the other side of the house, the bulldozer monster rumbled deeper, and the house shuddered and groaned. Bailey dodged a shingle flying down from the roof. He stuck his nose close to the hole and barked, but if Skelley barked back he couldn't hear him over the bulldozer's growl.
   Lucinda slid up beside him. "Do something!"
   Bailey pushed his head into the hole, but he couldn't wiggle through. "I can't get through the hole. Not without Skelley holding up the plank for me."
   "Dogs!" Lucinda shook her head. Suddenly she perked up her ears. "Listen. That thing sounds like it's backing away. I'll go find that crazy dog."
   "You can't go back in there, Lucinda. The bulldozer might come back."
   "If it does, you better stop it." Lucinda glared at him, then ducked through the hole.
   Stop the bulldozer! How could he stop that monster? 
   "Lucinda," he called, but she was gone. He whipped his tail around in a circle and tried to think. He had to do something. And fast. The bulldozer's growl was getting louder again.
   Bailey raced around the corner of the house and froze in his tracks. The yellow monster was inching closer, its enormous metal front a hungry mouth. Bailey looked behind him. If only he could see Skelley and Lucinda crawling out of the house, but they weren't anywhere in sight.
   And the bulldozer kept coming. He couldn't let it bite into the house while Lucinda and Skelley were inside. He couldn't. 
   Barking as loud as he could, Bailey ran at the terrible bulldozer mouth and attacked. His teeth wouldn't grab on the slick blade. He slid to the ground and landed on his side.
   He couldn't let it beat him. He scrambled up and charged again, barking louder than he thought possible. Nothing had ever been afraid of him or his bark, but he was sometimes scared of other dogs barking at him. Like the huge, black dog the day before. 
   Bailey tried to sound every bit as fierce. He crouched down close to the ground in hopes that would make his bark deeper, more ferocious.
   He was about to retreat when all of the sudden the monster stopped moving and simply sat there and stared at him with an angry rumble. With trembling legs, Bailey stayed where he was.
   "Hey, I didn't tell you to stop!" Whoever was yelling sounded as mad as the monster. 
   Bailey peeked out the corner of his eyes at a man waving his arms at the bulldozer.
   Someone, maybe even the monster, yelled back at the man on the ground. "A dog's in the way."
   "A dog! You stopped for a dog!" 
   That made Bailey growl.
   "I ain't mashing no dog," the bulldozer said and stopped rumbling.
   With the monster silent, Bailey's barks bounced off the metal mouth and pounded into his ears. But he was afraid to stop because between barks, he could hear the house creaking and groaning. 
   Where were Lucinda and Skelley? They should be out by now and he really wished he could stop barking.
   The man and the monster kept shouting. Then the man grabbed a plank and swung it at Bailey. He barely dodged in time, but he didn't turn tail and run. Even if he wanted to. Instead, he rolled over on his back and stuck his feet up in the air. That had to make the man know Bailey wasn't going to bite him. 
    But the man kicked Bailey in the side anyway. Hard. "Get out of here, you dumb dog."
   Bailey could keep from yelping.

   "Aw, don't hurt him, boss," the bulldozer said. "He's sort of cute. And look there. He's got a collar on with a leash. Somebody must be in the house."
   The boss stared from Bailey to the house. "Guess we'd better check it out."
   Just then Lucinda appeared in the gaping hole that had been a window a few minutes ago. She meowed her best.
   "Look, a kitty cat." A man climbed down the side of the monster. 
    He must have been doing the talking instead of the monster. Maybe all it could do was growl. But it was quiet now.
   "I hate cats," the man who kicked Bailey muttered. Bailey bounced up on his feet, ready to attack again. He wasn't about to let the man kick Lucinda. 
   But the cat disappeared back into the house before the men got to her. The man who'd been on top of the monster stepped up on a rock and peeked through the window. "Hey, boss. There's an old dog in there with his foot caught under a beam."
   "We can't just knock a house down on top of him."
   The boss looked in the window too. "I don't know why not. From the looks of him, it would be a mercy killing." 
   Bailey growled and scooted closer to them. He didn't know what a mercy killing was, but it didn't sound good. Not good at all.

(to be continued next week)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Burgoo Time in Hollyhill

October 13, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Don't you think it's kind of sad when all I have to report on is a pot of burgoo? Even the word sounds weird. Burgoo. I like words and how sometimes they just seem to sound like they should. Like soft. Even the word sounds soft. Or violet. When that word runs across your tongue you just know it's going to stand for something pretty. But burgoo. Just say that word. It can't be good. I looked up what it meant in the dictionary. "A thick soup or stew, typically made for an outdoor meal." 

That's what it is in Hollyhill. There's this one family that has the recipe and they've passed it down from father to son. They build a fire outside and put this huge iron pot on a stand over it. Then they dump in all this meat and onions and potatoes and corn and tomatoes along with some secret spices and cook it all day long. They have big oar like paddles they use to stir it. Can't let it stick to the bottom of the kettle. Then at the end of the day when the stuff looks like red goo (it ought to be called redgoo instead of burgoo), people start lining up at the kettles with sauce pans for the men to dip them some of that hot goo. 

You have to bring your own pan and spoon. Everybody knows that. But once you have your dip, you still can't tell what you're eating. Except that it's got stringy meet in the goo part. And ever once in a while you spot a grain of corn that didn't cook up into mush. 

Dad loves it. Says he used to think about eating burgoo again while he was at sea during the war. Wes says it's not bad for roadkill stew. He just says that to make me go ewww. There's no roadkill in it. At least, I don't think there is. Beef mostly. Maybe some chicken. Could be it's better to not think about what's in it and just eat it if you're hungry enough. And who knows? Maybe someday I'll be hungry enough.

Have you ever eaten burgoo? 

For sure, Bailey would if he got a chance. You can check out the next scene for Bailey and friends below.

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week or you can read it all in the pages the Bailey's Bug link up in the top line.
     “Aye for a truth,” Skelley said. “I’ve been in twenty-two of them meself, but me old master used to promise we’d see them all sooner or later.” The old dog’s face drooped. “But then he died, he did.”
Bailey put a paw over Skelley’s. “I’m sorry.”
“Well, he was old like I be now, but I did wish him more life.” Skelley ran his nose along the painted stick. “This ‘tis all I have left of him. I’ve kept it with me ever since the circus left me behind. Without me master I just couldn’t get me heart into me old tricks, and in a circus tent, every man and beast has to earn his way to keep the ringmaster from giving him the boot.”
“My boy went to the circus once and tried to teach me the tricks he saw a dog do there. You remember, Lucinda?”
“Please. I’d rather not think about that disaster.” Lucinda shuddered.
“Our boy, Reid, talked her into it,” Bailey said.
“What was the trick?” Skelley’s ears perked up a little.
“Lucinda stood on my back while I went in a circle. That was what was supposed to happen anyway. We made one circle but then I maybe went too fast and Lucinda fell kersplat.”
“I did no such thing.” Lucinda lifted her nose toward the ceiling and huffed. “I landed on my feet, I’ll have you know.”
Bailey lowered his voice. “She went up on in a tree and stayed there till dark.”
“Not everybody’s meant for the big top, for a truth,” Skelley said. “But that sounds something like the very trick I used to do for me master. I’d balance on Asaph. That was our pony and Josephine the cat would balance on my back. Old Asaph would trot in a circle, and we’d hop through a hoop and land on his back again.”
“Wow. That sounds like some trick.” Bailey looked at the old dog with new admiration.
“Aye, it was grand. The crowds would practically lift the tent top with their cheers.” Skelley looked at the wall as if he was still hearing those cheers. Then he shook his head a bit. “But it was your story I was hoping to hear. How is it ye plan to find this boy of yours?”
“He has a bug in his ear,” Lucinda said. “If you can believe such a thing.”
“A bug?”
“Not a real bug.” Bailey swiped at his ear with his paw. “But there’s something there. A kind of hum that tells me which way to go to find Reid.”
“I knew a pigeon that could do that. They’d take him far from home and turn him loose and every time he flew straight back,” Skelley said.
“Bailey’s not a pigeon and he’s never been over a mile from home.” Lucinda swatted at a cobweb drifting down toward her. “We will never find Reid. We should have stayed put and let Reid find us.”
“Could be that ‘twould have been the sensible thing to do, Miss Lucinda. But I’m betting the lad here will find your boy.”
Lucinda snarled and went back to grooming her legs. Skelley looked at Bailey. “Which way would this bug or whatever be sending you now?”
Bailey stood up and cocked his ears, but the hum was drowned out by a terrible rumbling noise. He started trembling, but it wasn’t just him. The whole house was shaking.
“Tis only the bulldozer.” Skelley yelled in Bailey’s ear. “It seems the whole street is condemned but we’re safe enough in here.”
“Condemned? What does that mean?” Bailey asked.
“Not for certain, but no people ever come around to bother me here.”
Bailey could barely hear him. The roar was getting louder by the second.
Lucinda pushed her nose against the window and peered through the dusty pane. She shrieked and leaped down as the window shattered and sprayed glass down around them. A trickle of blood appeared on Skelley’s head. Then the big metal dozer blade bit through the wall.
“Run,” Skelley shouted when the dozer pulled its blade back. “Before it comes back.”
The old dog slipped out the hole first and held the plank up for Lucinda. Bailey followed her out, but the nasty leash jerked at his neck and held him back. Bailey grabbed it and yanked until his teeth hurt. It gave up and trailed Bailey out just as the dozer blade banged into the house again.
They were racing to safety when Skelley yelled, “Me master’s baton.”   
Bailey grabbed at the old dog’s tail to keep him from turning back, but he missed. Skelley ran back toward the house while pieces of roof raining down on them. He disappeared through the hole into the house.

(to be continued next Monday)

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Packed Church for Homecoming

October 6, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Whew! Homecoming is over. What a Sunday! Everybody and his brother was there. The church was jam-packed. We even had to set chairs in the aisles and open up the doors to the Sunday School room next to the pulpit to let people sit there. Dad couldn't stop smiling. He was that happy seeing so many people at church. He wasn't preaching. There was a visiting preacher, Bro. Adams, who was the preacher at Mount Pleasant before I was born. He was old. Probably sixty something. He told stories on all the old members. Some about going to their houses for dinner on Sundays. Some about the men taking him fishing or talking him into helping with something on their farms. He had everybody laughing, even me when I didn't even know what he talking about some of the time. Dad says that's a good preacher - on who can get people listening. Then he can pour out the message and people will just lap it up.

After the preaching, we had dinner on the grounds. I made a chess cake all by myself. And it was good. Even Jimmy Wilson said so and Jimmy never likes to say anything good about me. He's always picking on me. Dad says that's because he's struck on me. Funny way to show it, is what I say. And I'm not wanting anybody to be struck on me - especially not Jimmy Wilson. Well, he is sort of cute and he did help me set out the extra chairs. Maybe he's not so bad. Not that I'm in love of anything. No way. But if I did have a little crush on somebody - I'm not saying I do, but if I did - do you think I'm too young? How odl were you when you started thinking about how it would be to, well, you know, to walk around with somebody like you were a couple?

Gee, my cheeks are burning hot. Guess I'd better change the subject and see what Bailey and Lucinda are up to with their new friend, Skelley. Remember, you can find the beginning of the story under the page tab up at the top of this article. 

BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last time)

    Skelley ducked under a yellow and black strip of plastic and headed down between two old houses that looked like they might just fall down any second.
    Finally he looked around at them and said, "This is it."
    The old dog shoved up a loose board with his nose to show a hole into the house. "Mind watch your step as ye head on in. The floor has a weak spot here and there."
    The very end of Lucinda's tail twitched back and forth as she stared at the dark opening. At last she tucked her head into the hole and disappeared.
    Bailey followed her, digging with his paws to scoot through behind the cat. The leash jerked back and did its best to stop him. Bailey pushed harder with his back paws and the leash turned loose to meekly slither the hole. Skelley popped in behind Bailey and let the board fall back into place.
    "Come along." The old dog headed across the room. "It's nothing fancy but it be safer than the street. And a bit of sunshine does sometimes sneak into the place."
    At that, Lucinda perked up and began daintily picking her way through the bottles and cans and old newspapers. Bailey scrambled after her. Dust bunnies jumped out at him, but he paid them no mind. Bailey sniffed, but he couldn't pick up even the slightest whiff of Skelley's people no matter which way he turned his nose.
    "Here we are. Home sweet home." Skelley did a little head bow.
    A few empty cans and a red stick with a black knob on the end were scattered on a rug in front of a window so dirty the sun barely forced its way inside.
    Skelley brushed off the window with his tail. "Would you care for the window seat, Miss Lucinda?"
    Lucinda hopped up on the windowsill and began washing her face. It had to be wasted effort with all the cobwebs and dirt around them, but she was being polite. In between licks, she sent Bailey a warning look to mind his manners too.
    So when the old dog pulled his prize bone from under a pile of rags in the corner, Bailey thumped his tail on the floor and even though the bone was so dry he thought it might just be a rock masquerading as a bone, he chewed on the end of it. Nothing at all like the bone Mrs. Robinson had given him a couple of days ago.
    After what Bailey hoped was a properly polite chewing time, he scooted the bone back to Skelley. "Thank you. That was very good, but you better save some for your next celebration."
   "Or rainy day, eh, lad?" Skelley tucked the bone out of sight under the edge of the rug. Then he turned twice and sat down with his paw gently on the painted stick. "Now, let's be hearing your story. How come two pampered pets like the two of ye are on the streets with no human watching out for you?"
    "I'm going to find my boy," Bailey said. "He moved away. Miles away. To another state."
    "And forgot to take you along, did he? A pure shame that was."
    "He was coming back for us. I'm sure of it, but I decided not to wait that long. So we're going to him." Bailey hesitated, then asked, "You wouldn't happen to know how far it is to another state?"
    "That would be according to which state it is ye want, lad. There be fifty of them, ye know."
    "Fifty?" Bailey couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice. He peeked over at Lucinda who had stopped licking her paws to stare at Skelley. When she noticed Bailey looking at her, she went back to washing her face as if fifty states was no surprise to her. 

(To be continued)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ham or Not Homecoming Committee

September 29, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. It's Homecoming time at our church out in Holly County. Next Sunday. This picture is from a couple of years ago. Dad says he hopes we have that big a crowd this year too. 

The ladies at church have been all in a stir getting everything ready. Last Saturday they got together to wash the windows and make sure no cobwebs were hiding in the corners. My job was to scrape the chewing gum off the bottom of the pews. Can you believe that people would do that? Stick chewing gum on a church pew. Eww! Miss Sally says it was probably little kids who don't know any better. Miss Sally always thinks the best of everybody but Aunt Love says some parents need to jerk their kids' ears if they do something like that. She would have mine for sure. 

Things get a little testy around Homecoming time. The ladies have little meetings out in the yard about who should do what and when. Last week they were trying to decide about the church buying a ham for the dinner on the grounds and if they buy a ham whether it should be a country ham or a city ham. Mrs. Harrison says they always get a country ham, but Miss Josephine says that a city ham would be better. That it's time the church changed a few things and country ham makes folks have to drink too much tea and we all know that means everybody will be in and out disturbing the afternoon services going to the outhouse. Mrs. Harrison got all huffy and informed Miss Josephine that people expected them to have country ham and it wouldn't be a real dinner on the grounds without it. Then Mrs. Butler chimed in that they could just all fry chicken and save the church some money. That the Israelites in the Bible wouldn't even eat ham. Bible discussion began in earnest then. I decided maybe I'd better go see if there was some more chewing gum under the pews that I might have missed. I didn't want to pipe up and say something that would get me in trouble with Dad. 

Guess I'd better just stick with writing about Bailey and Lucinda. Let's see what they're up to now.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
  (continued from last week. See the beginning of the story at the Bailey's Bug tab up at the top of the page.)

Chapter 6

    Bailey gobbled down the scraps before his tail wagged twice, then sat back to wait for Skelley and Lucinda to finish. He tried not to think about how his stomach was still growling.
    "Ye appear to be a dog of no small appetite." Skelley nosed another crust of bread toward Bailey.
    Lucinda finished last and started licking her paws. Skelley peered over his shoulder. "Begging your pardon, Miss Lucinda, but we best move along now. The ringmasters of this place will be showing up soon and for a truth, they don't look kindly on me balancing skills. They are as apt to call the dog police as not."
    Lucinda sighed. "If I must go unwashed, I must go unwashed."
    "We can find a spot on down the street," Bailey promised. "In the sun."
    Lucinda groaned and stretched her back legs out behind her. Then she gave a delicate shake. "Well, which way?"
    Before Bailey could listen for the hum in his ear, Skelley spoke up. "I'd count it an honor if the two of ye came home with me for a bit of a rest. Miss Lucinda can finish her morning grooming in peace while us dogs have a chat, Bailey me lad."
    "Is there more food there?"
    "Don't be rude, Bailey," Lucinda hissed.
    "Worry not, Miss Lucinda. The boy is new to the streets. And it just so happens that I do have a bone I've been saving for a rainy day." Skelley looked up at the sky where the sun was just topping the buildings. Not a cloud in sight. "Or a celebration."
    "What kind of celebration?" Bailey asked.
    "We'll be thinking of something. Come along."
    They cut through alleys and behind buildings and crossed huge expanses of black asphalt. The monster cars were out in force, but Skelley avoided them with ease. 
    "It's safer to travel at night when there aren't so many of the four-wheeled beasts on the prowl. A mere dog's no match for the likes of them."
    The cars were bad enough but then Skelley led them right up to some mustard yellow beasts like nothing Bailey had ever seen. Their wheels were as big as Mr. Robinson's car and they had fearsome looking appendages poking out in odd places. Bailey stopped in his tracks. Lucinda eased over behind Bailey to eye them too.
    "Don't be worrying, me friends," Skelley said. "Tis only the machines they use for making roads or knocking down buildings. Most of the time, they sit quiet enough." 
    "Even that one?" Bailey pointed toward a monster with long worm wheels and a huge shovel all across the front of it.
    "That be a bulldozer. Makes a fearful noise at times and can knock trees clear out of the ground, but it moves powerful slow. Even an old dog like me can outrun it with nary a problem."
   Bailey kept his eye on the monster as they passed so close the chill of its metal skin made shivers walk along his back. The leash suddenly jumped up and clanged against the bulldozer wheels. Bailey jumped sideways and bumped Lucinda.
    "Can't you control that thing?" she muttered. 
    Bailey growled at the leash that was dragging along meekly again.
    "Dragging that along does appear to be a bit awkward, me lad," Skelley said. "I hated to say anything before, but I can't help wondering why ye have it with you."
    "I didn't want to, but it was the only way I can get beyond the fence."
    The old dog's forehead wrinkled up. "Aye, we have to take the chances we get."

(to be continued)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ever been to a Fall Festival?

September 23, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. The first day of fall is here. Football games and Fall Festivals. Have you ever been to a chili supper and fall festival at a school? I used to love to go when I was a kid, but now that I'm fourteen going on fifteen, they aren't as fun as they used to be. But I still have to go. Dad and I both do. We have to take pictures for the paper. Dad says he doesn't believe he's ever been anywhere noisier than a fall festival. Especially when they have those clicker things for prizes. You know what I mean. Pieces of metal that you pinch and make a click sound. I loved getting them as prizes when I was in grade school. I still like them. I got two last weekend, but Dad told me I'd better not click them when I was in the car with him. Funny how noisemakers don't bother you when you're the one making the noise but drive you crazy when it's somebody else making the noise. 

What's your favorite thing at a fall festival? Dad likes the cake walk, but then if you win, you're stuck with a cake you have to carry around. The duck pond is fun because everybody gets a prize there. More tin clackers or sometimes whistles. Dad says they are even worse and looks like teachers and parents would know to get prizes that weren't so noisy. Then you can throw bean bags at a target. I never won those, but I used to try all the games, even dunking for apples. A person could drown trying to bite an apple in a tub of water! 

What fall festival games did you like? 

And now for more from Bailey and Lucinda. 
BAILEY'S BUG by Jocie Brooke
(continued from last post. Read it all in the Bailey's Bug link at the top of this report.) 

Bailey is still on the road with Lucinda. In today's chapter, they meet a new friend. 

 In the morning, Bailey’s stomach growling woke him up, but he lay still. Lucinda’s eyes were shut. She might not be ready to wake up. Bailey’s left ear began to itch and little pins were sticking in his feet. Worse, he needed to find a bush. He was going to have to move and chance Lucinda’s temper.

A loud clang brought Bailey to his feet. Lucinda’s eyes flew open wide and she backed up against the fence and hissed. “See what it is.”
Bailey peeked around the corner of the trash bin. Nothing there. No people. No anything. A clang above his head made him jump again. Bailey looked up to see the skinniest dog ever, balancing on the edge of the bin opening. Bones looked like they were trying to break free of his skin.
The stranger pulled his head out of the trash bin to look down at Bailey. “And who might you be?” The words were muffled by the piece of bread in the dog's mouth.
“Bailey.” Bailey thought about barking really loud to see if that might make the other dog drop the bread, but that would be rude. Better to just stand there and let the saliva dribble out of the corners of his mouth. “How do you do that?”
The bread disappeared in the dog’s mouth. “What’s that, me lad?” he asked when his mouth was free once more.
“Stay there on the edge without falling in. I couldn’t even make it up to the opening last night.”
“Practice it takes, me lad. Many years of practice and a good bit more need of food than you’re showing.” The dog looked down at Bailey with dark eyes that laughed. Bailey didn’t mind. It was a nice kind of laughing.
Bailey’s tail tapped against the bin. “Maybe so, but I'm still hungry. Could you show me how to get something to eat from the bin too?” Bailey tried to sound respectful. ”When you're finished yourself, of course.”
The old dog laughed. “I fear this is a trick you could never learn, Bailey me lad. Not even with much practice.” The dog glanced back into the bin. “But it appears there’s a bounty of scraps this day. So I’d be honored to share vittles with the likes of you.”
The dog’s head disappeared back in the bin and then tossed out a few bits of bread with some meat still stuck to it.
“Be that enough, me lad?” The dog peered down at Bailey through his legs and tottered so that Bailey was sure the old fellow would fall in the bin or off it at any minute.
Bailey look at the bread. “Is there any milk in there?”
“Milk?” the dog said. “You are a particular beggar, for a truth. But let me give it a look see. If it’s on top I might be able to grab it.”
He slung out a few more scraps and then, with a yelp of discovery, jumped down to the ground to place a milk carton at Bailey’s feet. “There you go, lad. Enough milk for a bit of a sup, I should think.”
“Thank you.” Bailey wagged his tail. “Do you have a name?”
“Skelley, at your service, I’m sure.” The dog dropped down in a kind of bow that made Bailey forget how bony and old the dog looked.
“Skelley. So glad to meet you and thank you so much for the food. I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.”
Skelley laughed and picked up one of the crusts. He rolled it around in his mouth before swallowing as though to get every bit of enjoyment from it. “No doubt the longest your stomach’s ever been deprived from the looks of you. Aren’t you going to drink that milk you wanted?”
Bailey looked at the milk and then blurted out. “What about cats? Do you like them?”
“Cats? Interesting questions so early in the morning. Especially for one who seemed so anxious to eat.”
“But I need to know what you think about cats?”
“Ah, cats.” The old dog sat back on his haunches. “Are we talking Siamese? Alley tomcats? Brindled cats? I knew a gray cat once, a jolly cat he was. Then, of course, there was Josephine who rode on me back in the circus ring.”
Bailey wasn’t sure what a circus ring was. He decided to ask exactly what he needed to know. “You’ve never chased them up trees or anything like that?”
“Aye, some perhaps when I was a mere snip of a pup. But the years have taught me cats always get to the tree first and then sit smugly up in the branches while you run circles down below looking the foolish one of the two.” Skelley’s forehead wrinkled in a frown. “Surely you don’t want to be off chasing cats before you have your bit of food.”
“Oh no. I don’t chase cats at all. It’s just I have this friend. Lucinda.” Bailey tried to think of the best words to tell Skelley about Lucinda.
Lucinda didn’t wait for him to say anything else. She came out from behind the bin. “You don’t need to third degree our new friend after he was kind enough to get us food.” Lucinda was practically purring as she looked at Skelley. “I thank you for the milk, sir.”
Bailey nudged the carton over to her. Skelley’s eyes looked bigger than ever in his bony face as he watched Lucinda tip over the carton to lap up its contents.
Then he lifted his lips in a dog smile. “I had the feeling this would be a banner day. The sky was promising sunshine. The cars were few and far between. The bin was stuffed so full the lid stood open. Now here the two of you are with a story to tell or I miss my bet.” Skelley picked up another bit of food. “But eat up, Bailey lad. The story can wait.”
He didn’t have to tell Bailey twice.

(To be continued.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

The News - Hurricanes and Baseball

September 15, 1965

Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Boy, am I glad I don't live where hurricanes can hit. Last week I told you they were watching out for Hurricane Betsy and I didn't think that was a very good name for a hurricane. Well, I guess it was because it blew into Florida and Louisiana and tore up stumps and flooded everything and made this storm surge that went over the levees in Louisiana. The papers said maybe as many at eighty people died. It was so bad that Dad says they'll never use the name Betsy for a hurricane again. The name will be dropped from the list. 

Scary stuff but here in Hollyhill things just go on like always. I go to school. Zella types and pretends not to like Cat, but I know she slips him bits of bacon. Wes keeps the press running and watches baseball. Aunt Love lets the beans burn. Folks at church have potluck dinners. Things that seem so ordinary, but as Miss Sally tells me ordinary can be good.  

Speaking of baseball - well, I wasn't, but Wes was. He said we might as well not worry ourselves to death over hurricanes and think about Bert Campaneris. He plays for the Kansas City A's, and Wes says the A's have been losing nearly every game. So to try to up attendance, the manager decided to play Campaneris at every position in one game. Pitcher, catcher, fielder, baseman. All nine positions. They did that last week. Wes couldn't wait to read about it in the city newspapers. And he told me all about it at least ten times. He said that's the way they play ball up on Jupiter. Switching positions all the time. Said it made him almost homesick, but since Bert was playing down here on Earth, he guessed he'd stick around to see how the World Series turns out. One thing sure, the A's won't be in the World Series. Not losing every game like that. 

We've been playing softball in gym at high school.  I'm the worst. Can't hit and can't catch. But I can run if I happen to get on with a walk or something. Did you ever play softball?

Guess I'd better share a few more pages of Bailey's Bug.

Bailey's Bug by Jocie Brooke
(Continued from last week - the beginning of the story can be found on the Bailey's Bug link above.)

Chapter 5
When the sun slipped out of sight behind the buildings in front of them, Lucinda began to talk about soft cushions and beds. She never actually said they needed to go back to the Robinsons, but she did stop every few blocks to lick her paws and stare off into the distance as though she could see something Bailey couldn’t.
Bailey’s paws were sore too. That made him glad to plop down beside Lucinda while she worked on her feet.
Bailey looked around. Nothing looked right. People were there all right. Rushing everywhere like the sidewalk was too hot to stand still for more than a second. Now and again, a person smiled toward him, but more of them yelled as if they were afraid he might give them fleas or something.
Bailey didn’t care. He was used to people yelling at him, but Lucinda expected people to be respectful. The nasty voices made her fur spike up along her back and her tail kept getting stiffer as it shot up into the air.
Then a fat man came out of the store and spotted them behind a garbage can. He not only yelled, he picked up a rock and threw it at them. The rock bounced on the sidewalk and almost hit Lucinda. She sprang up with a yowl and snarled at the man. Bailey jumped in front of her as another rock whistled past. They raced around a corner away from the man and his rocks and stopped to catch their breath between two parked cars.
“He must have thought we were strays.” Bailey hoped that would make Lucinda feel less insulted.
“We are strays.” Lucinda’s voice was shrill. “It’s not safe to be a stray in the city. Even the dumbest dog should know that.”
Bailey didn’t say anything. He didn’t feel like a stray. He knew who he belonged to. Reid. Bailey peered under the dark, silent car next to him. There were a lot of cars clustered around a building where light spilled out of big windows. Inside, people were moving around. The door swung open and the noise practically hurt Bailey’s ears. It was that loud. But more entrancing was the smell of food.
A boy came through the door. If only that were Reid. But it wasn’t. The boy got into a car not far from Bailey and the car woke up and inched out of the parking lot and out to the street. Bailey didn’t know why he felt so disappointed, but he did.
After the car lights disappeared, he looked at Lucinda. “What are we going to do now?”
“Why ask me? I’m not the one with a bug in my ear.”
Cocking his ears, Bailey stood up and moved his head to the left and then to the right. His tail stuck out like a flag behind him as he sniffed the air. The hum was still in his ears. He’d come the right way, but he couldn’t tell how much farther it was to Reid.
“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Bailey said.
“Tell me something I don’t already know.” Lucinda’s mood wasn’t improving. But she didn’t say they should go back to the Robinsons. Instead she leaped up on the car beside them to look around.
“What do you see?
“A stupid dog and a crazy cat.” She slid down the hood to the bumper and jumped softly to the ground. “My feet hurt. I’m not going another step tonight.”
“Is it safe here?”
She didn’t bother answering as she limped to a huge metal bin. Bailey jumped up on the side of bin. Lovely smells came from inside it. Food smells. But he couldn’t reach the opening, no matter how he stretched.
“Get away from there before somebody starts throwing rocks again,” Lucinda ordered.
“But there’s food in there.”
“None you can get to.” Lucinda slid out of sight behind the bin. “You’ll just have to be hungry till morning.”
Morning seemed a long time away as Bailey followed the cat into the shadowy darkness behind the bin. Lucinda had already found a piece of foam to curl up on. Bailey lay down beside her and did his best not to think of bones and doggie treats and the wonderful whirr of Mrs. Robinson’s can opener. He wondered what would be different in the morning that would get them food. But there was no use worrying about that.
He needed to think good things. He had to be closer to Reid tonight than last night. He might not be miles closer, but he was closer. He wasn’t alone. Lucinda was with him and could be she knew something she wasn’t telling him about morning and food. Lucinda liked having secrets. 
No, things weren’t all bad. Just before he went to sleep, his tail flapped back and forth.

(to be continued next week)