Kittens, Cats and Catastrophes

            My grandmother was a gentle lady, but every time her cat had kittens, she picked out the one that looked like it might be the best mouser (how she knew that was beyond me), placed the rest in a burlap bag with a large rock and threw the bag into the pond, which was really just a big puddle in the middle of the sand pit that was up the lane from her house.

            I know that was disgusting so don’t shoot the messenger, but Grandma was an old school immigrant who did what you had to do. She learned early on that as a single mother, feeding a family of 10 kids took priority over a half-dozen kittens. Anyway, the pit was eventually filled in and a neighborhood of small houses sprouted there.

            We saved one of those kittens from its demise by adopting it. It matured into a large grey cat with a triangle mark on its forehead. One day it disappeared. A few days later, I found it lying on the side of Route 6. Someone must have hit it and placed it there. I put it in a paper bag and buried it in a shallow grave near the brook at the end of our lane.

            A year or more later, my mother heard a scratching noise at the back door. Sure enough, it was our old grey cat with the triangle mark on its forehead, looking a little scraggly but none the worse for wear. Mom let him in, and he ran straight for the spot where his food dish used to be. I guess the car must have just stunned him for a while, and he scratched his way out of the bag. It was a lucky cat who beat its tragic demise … twice!

            Another kitten we rescued from Grandma’s burlap chamber of horrors wasn’t so lucky and caused our family, especially my mother, a good deal of grief. One day Mom was about to take a drive when she noticed the kitten by the garage door. Not wanting to go back inside the house, she picked it up and placed it on the front seat of the car next to her.

            At the time, I was at my friend’s house on North Street. Suddenly there was a loud bang that shook the house. I ran to see what had happened, horrified to see that my mother had wrapped our green 1949 Pontiac around a massive oak tree. Mom had reached across the seat trying to grab the kitten, which had fallen off the seat, causing her to turn the steering wheel, driving the car squarely into the tree.

            Racing to her aid, I tripped, falling down my friend’s front steps, tearing up my knee. The ambulance arrived shortly with Dad’s friend Mickey Bauer driving. I got into the back next to the stretcher in the station-wagon ambulance, also a 1949 Pontiac. Mickey hauled that thing with its one red “bubblegum machine” light on the roof at what seemed like 100 miles per hour along Route 6 through Fairhaven and New Bedford to St. Luke’s Hospital.

            As it happened, Dad was in the hospital at the same time for a hernia operation. I knew where his room was, so Mickey and I started down to tell him that Mom was in the emergency room. As we approached his room, he was sitting in a wheelchair and spotted us. Naturally, he wondered why I was with Mickey, the town’s ambulance driver. He rolled himself out to greet us with a worried look on his face. As soon as Mickey mentioned Mom’s name and emergency room in the same breath, Dad took off like a race car, wheels spinning off the starting line … nurses, Mickey and me chasing behind.

            So, for one day all three members of the Morgado family were in the hospital, Mom being patched up from her injuries, Dad recuperating from surgery and me with a cut leg bandaged by a kind nurse.

            The kitten did not survive.

            Editor’s note: Mattapoisett resident Dick Morgado is an artist and retired newspaper columnist whose musings are, after some years, back in The Wanderer under the subtitle “Thoughts on ….” Morgado’s opinions have also appeared for many years in daily newspapers around Boston.

Thoughts on…

By Dick Morgado

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