Occasionally, I publish some of Mr. Montgomery’s musings edited only for grammatical errors. Since it was Mr. Montgomery’s birthday this week, here is another of his reflections of earlier times.
Reminiscences and other STUFF, Subject: C A T S – Or about CATS in General
Well. here I am, sitting up in the middle of the night, suddenly inspired to writing about CATS I have known, and about CATS in general. I don’t know what prompted to go into this – maybe it was something on TV, or my brain was wandering. Here I am sitting up in bed in the middle of the night, writing this bit of nothing. Doing it on this LAPTOP computer has been frustrating. I found that I make typing errors on just about every other word. Pardon me, while I correct about 40 errors in the above typing.
NOW, about CATS.
I can remember talking to people about owning a cat. I don’t think anyone owns a cat. It’s my observation that a cat moves into a home, and becomes the owner/manager of the premises. You may think that you are running the place, but I think most house-cats consider that the place is theirs, and we are just the servants that go with the place.
Now we get to the story about, “cats I have known”.
Way back in the 1930’s, we had a big old black tomcat we called “Cubby”. The property adjoined the Washington State Fairgrounds, so our wild animal had lots of hunting grounds. The one thing I can remember about our black cat, my sister and I, when the cat died we held services and buried our old friend in a home-made coffin box. But back to more recent events.
In 1949 or 1950, my mother, sister, and I were living in Bremerton. A friend had decided to leave Bremerton, and persuaded my mother to accept his cat. He forgot to mention that the cat also had 2 very small kittens. So when I arrived home, next to the door was a cardboard box with a calico cat and 2 kittens. The box was set so that the cat could see out the window. Our next-door neighbor had a small mutt dog who regularly crossed thorough the yards of the neighborhood. This particular day our new cat decided that the dog had to go . . . so she managed to find an open window, jumped out and attacked the dog. The dog was twice the size of the cat, but it didn’t bother our enraged cat. The dog turned and headed off and our cat grabbed onto him with a 5 point landing. All 4 feet clawed into the dog along with a mouthful of teeth. The dog managed to race across to his front porch, with the cat riding him like a race jockey.
Several days later I noticed that the dog still walked through the neighborhood yards, except this dog always crossed the street when passing our place, then came back on this side when he got past. The other dogs did likewise. I think the word got out (in dog land), that we had a vicious cat at our house.
We lived on Marine Drive in an area where the house lots had a certain amount of vacant area, and there were vacant lots all over the area. Happy hunting grounds for cats. The common house-cat, has the same instinct as their larger cousins; lions, tigers, leopards, etc–they are all hunters. One morning I was greeted by our little one jumping through a bedroom window that was open about 2 inches, and came bounding up on my bed. She stopped at the foot of the bed, plunked down the rodent (a mole) and went burr-chirp, look what I brought us.
My mother, was the local CAT WOMAN. Strays were welcome, and one day, in walked a forlorn looking tabby cat, with a very short tail. My mother, of course, fed the cat, and it was ours forever more. This was NONA from nowhere (in honor of a radio soap serial of the same name.) Nona became a regular member of our menagerie for many years.
CATS at the THEATRE
Back in 1953 when we were doing BELL, BOOK, and CANDLE (at the old Community Theatre – 12th & Broadway).
Jack Couse was director of the play, and we ended up with an unusually good cast. But an important character in the play was a cat called Pyewacket, who was important to the plot of the show.
Bill Ludwig and I were taking care of publicity for this show, so we contrived to advertise for “Cat tryouts”. Our little ad in the paper got several cat owners who brought their feline animal down to the theatre to see how the cat would work out in the performance. It was almost predictable. The 4 or 5 cats who were brought in, immediately ran off and hid somewhere in the theatre, and most of our time was spent searching and routing them out. They obviously wouldn’t do. So we thought of the one place that had lots of cats to unload on people. The local city Pound, and cat locker. I went out there, with my sister Joyce, to take a look. When the attendant opened the door to the cat collection, we were greeted with the stares of maybe 25 stray cats. But, there was this one that we both felt had the right look. (Now the original play script called for a Siamese cat, but this was just an ordinary black, with white markings). But, I thought it was just what we were looking for. It was a mismatched marked cat if you ever saw one. A black cat with misc. white spots on the black, and black spots on the white areas. Except there was nothing symmetrical about the markings. There was a black spot next to the nose, except it was off-center, and sort of matched with white mark just above the right eye. We decided this would be Pyewacket, and we took her. Also there was another one that looked a little like her, so we took them both. (Insurance, you know).
I became the keeper of the cat for Bremerton Community Theatre (BCT), and we took them home (more about that later) we also had 3 cats already at home.
As expected, this cat prowled around the place for a while, and when the play rehearsal started the cat moved on top of a big old cabinet radio that had been left out in front of the first row of seats. Our PYEWACKET sat there and watched the whole rehearsal like a paid customer. But of course we needed a place to keep the cat, and be ready to come on stage on cue. So I started making a cage to hold her, but in the meantime, the rehearsals went on. When the cat went on stage (rehearsal) we discovered she had a purr that rivaled an outboard motor, and was content to roll up in our leading lady’s lap and enjoy herself.
More CATS at the THEATRE
One evening I had been in Seattle on business, but I left my car in Bremerton parked on 5th street just across from the Admiral Theatre. So I walked up Pacific Ave toward my car. I became aware that I was being followed by a cat, who crept along in the gutter, just out of sight by the curbing, but kept up with my walking along. He followed me all the way up to 5th Street, when I decided to have a look.
And leaned down and grabbed the cat. The cat was friendly, and started purring, I left him on the sidewalk and walked over to my car, and got in, followed by this cat. I asked, you want a ride? I got a cat “yeah” and the cat climbed into my car. So I started the car, the cat sat up on the seat beside me (like a paid passenger), and we took off. We went over to BCT at 12th & Broadway. The cat took up residence under the old theatre building, and people started leaving food out for the theatre cat. This went on for several days until one of the theatre members decided that 12th & Broadway was no place for this really nice, cute looking cat, and took him (or her) to a residence in the Port Orchard area, I forgot who it was.