A Pet Worth a Thousand Stories

       Our house was yellow. Mama said it was the most popular
color of the times. My room was upstairs in the southeastern
corner. Two windows gave me a nice breeze. I loved watching
my lace curtains wave to each other when the wind blew. One
window opened onto the front porch roof.
       We had pets--stray cats, gold fish, worms, frogs, turtles
and a little beagle mix named Tippy. She had a chopped off
tail-poor thing. And one spring we adopted a bird.
       Daddy was a commercial fisherman. With my grandpa
and Uncle Pede, he worked on the sloughs of the “Old Man,”
the mighty Mississippi River. They fished year round pulling in
great hauls of mostly Buffalo, sort of the cadillac of carp. My
brothers and I would climb into the bed of Uncle Pede’s old
green pickup. Tons of fish packed in ice accompanied us, as
we rode to the fish-market. What fun. Daddy would dig into his
pocket for nickels and away we would run up the street to
Dutch’s to buy an ice cream cone.
       One day, as Daddy was coasting along the banks of the
Minnesota Slough in his launch, his fishing boat, he spotted a
small bird at the base of a big old cottonwood tree. A baby
crow had fallen out of its nest and was left to fend for himself.
His loud squawks and failed attempts to take flight caught the
attention of our dad. He could not resist rescuing this little
creature. After tenderly tucking him deep inside his warm safe
coat, this tiny creature settled into a long deserved nap.
       We fell in love with our new pet, giving him a name that
one of us cried out as a rhyme. Joe Crow was welcomed into
our family immediately and he soon learned to trust us. He
loved bread chunks soaked in milk and gobbled like a turkey
when he saw our old puddle jumper pulling into the drive way.
Daddy always had a carton filled with fish entrails and Joe
hopped around with impatient joy until we began pulling the
raw meat out. Down the hatch it went. With open bill Joe
begged for more and more until he was so full he could hardly
walk. Another thing Joe craved was vinegar. Whenever the big
jug was opened, he’d jump up and light on the back of a
kitchen chair and start begging. We would pour a little into a
bowl and Joe would spread his ebony wings, hunch over the
intoxicating liquid and act like he was just that—intoxicated. He
could not get enough. Mama would order us, and Joe to stop
acting so foolish and the playing would have to stop.
       Joe went with us to school, riding either on a bike handle
bar or a shoulder. He loved joining us on trips to the islands
where an ancient shanty housed supplies for a weekend stay
or an overnight shelter for tired fishermen. Daddy kept Joe’s
wings slightly clipped so he could not fly very far. He didn’t
seem to want to as he loved us as much as we loved him.
       One day as we prepared for a journey, the car keys were
nowhere to be found. After a long search, the journey was
canceled with frowns directed at Joe. Assuming that he was
the culprit who stole the keys, we thought that they were lost
forever. Later that evening, just before Joe came in for the
night (he happily roosted on a strong beam in our warm dark
basement) I heard tapping on my window. Curious, I peered
out. There was our little Joe on the roof overlooking our front
porch. The street light’s glow reflected off of a shining object at
his feet. I opened my window and he hopped in, leaving the car
keys behind. I crawled out onto the roof and retrieved the keys.
The following morning we began again to prepare for our day’s
journey in our 1952 Ford.
       We enjoyed Joe Crow’s affection and companionship for a
long time. He tormented Tippy’s short stub tail and entertained
all of our friends and a few teachers. My heart holds warm
memories of all of our pets, but only one is worth a book full of
stories. That is Joe Crow.                             
Copyright-Kathleen M. Brosius February, 2010