Another Story: Jimmy

Another Story-Jimmy

I was working at Howard Motors. The shop had 6 stalls for regular engine work and generally had 4 or 5 experienced mechanics working. At this particular time we only had four mechanics and two of them had just been there a short time. One of them, Jimmy was a real nice young man, and was just married a few months prior. His wife came down to the shop one day and Jimmy introduced her to all of us. He was a good mechanic and was well liked by his clients. His hobby was a pair of nickel-plated .44 Smith & Wesson revolvers for which he loaded his own ammunition. He had invited me over to his house once to show me the pistols and his reloading equipment. Then, we went out to the rock quarry and did some target shooting with those nickel plated cannons.

The other new mechanic was a guy named Mike. He was a good mechanic also but was one of those devil-may-care guys and his hobby was building and racing stock cars. He was a crazy S.O.B. but I liked him. He had invited me to his place a couple of times to work on his ’37 Ford stock car and I had attended one of his races in Wichita at the Hillside race track. On one of these outings I had met his wife who was a real, nice girl.

One morning neither Jimmy nor Mike showed up for work. It was mighty cold outside but there was no snow or ice to cause any driving problems so we had no clue as to why the guys weren’t there. Kenny Markley, the Service Manager made some job assignments to cover the customers who were there when we opened up and we all went about our business. A while later I had a car up on the grease rack and was working on it and I looked up and here comes Jimmy. Jimmy was wearing a big coat and he started to unbutton it as he started talking.   He started right off with “You and your friends are out cruising around town every night and I want to know if you saw my wife and Mike last night?” As he finished talking, he also finished the last button on his coat and it dropped open and I saw that he was wearing his gun belt with a .44 on each hip! “What the hell are you doing, Jimmy?” I asked “what are you doing?” “Oh, I just want to talk to them”, he says, “Did you see them last night?” Well, yes, I had seen them drive past, laughing and carrying on but I wasn’t about to tell him. I’m starting to realize that this conversation is way above what an 18 year old kid can handle and start looking for help. The Dutch door of the Parts Department was open at the top and I can see Phil Harding, the Parts Manager in there working. Phil was in his 50’s, smart, quiet, and well respected. I also know that he was a Golden Gloves boxer as a young man. I figure he’s the right guy for this job. I said to Jimmy, “I don’t have any idea where they might be.” That was the truth. Then I say “let’s go talk to Phil and see if he can help figure this out.”Jimmy is so steamed up he’s about to explode and anything sounds good to him so we walk over to that Dutch door with the little counter built on it. Phil looks up and sees us and I wink at him so he’ll know something is up. Phil says “What’s going on?” “Well,” I say, “Jimmy thinks his wife is out with Mike and he’s looking for them. You probably noticed he’s wearing his guns and I thought maybe you could help us figure this out.” About this time, Kenny, the Service Manager yells and asks me if I’ve finished that car I was working on. I walk over to talk to him, practically wanting to kiss him for getting me away from that situation. I quickly told him what was happening and he said he would get on over there. Kenny was probably 6’2” and more than 250 pounds and was quiet and friendly and strong as a bull. He was another good man to put on the job.

I went back to work and left the two best men in the place to deal with the problem. It was probably about half an hour before Phil and Kenny came out together and told me what happened. They talked to Jimmy until he calmed down and then asked him for his guns. He gave them up without a fuss and they locked them in the company safe.

Jimmy and his wife got things straightened out. She was just a kid and when they had moved to a new town she didn’t know what to do with herself and got bored. When she met fast-talking Mike, he seemed more exciting than what she had been experiencing. Jimmy took her back and she got a job clerking somewhere to keep her busy. Mike quit his job and moved on, just like he always did.

Dave Thomas
December 7, 2013


I Wanna Go Home


Pat and the kids and I were on one of our vacation trips back to Kansas. Russ and Doug were almost six and Terri was almost three. We were on our favorite route which took us through the Salt River Canyon in eastern Arizona and on to Show Low and Springerville. Traveling on Highway 60 was an easy way through the mountains and after crossing into New Mexico takes us to Pie Town, Socorro, and Vaughn.

This particular night, it was getting pretty late and the kids were fussy and hadn’t dropped off to sleep yet. We always started our trips in the evening so the kids would fall asleep and we could have a peaceful ride without listening to “Are we there, yet” and the other normal kid stuff. Doug was complaining that he had to go to the bathroom. We were never sure whether he really had to go or just wanted to check the place out. We called him the “Bathroom Inspector” and I guess every family has one. Actually, they are just curious kids who want to get out of the car and see something new.

Russ was behaving well and only said that he was hungry. Terri, who was normally quiet and easy-going, however, was crying and whining because she didn’t want to sleep in the car. She wanted to sleep in her own bed. She had a “thing” about her bed. You could change the sheets and make up the bed but after that don’t sit on it and don’t touch it. When it was bed time she headed for bed without complaint and after being tucked in, went right to sleep.

As we got into Pie Town, we spotted a diner on the north side of the road and pulled in. We thought we should have some pie in Pie Town. That and some coffee for Pat and I and some milk for the kids should fix us all up for the night. We made our way to the counter and seated ourselves on the stools. There was a cowboy sitting at the end of the counter and he noticed that Terri was fussing about something. He asked her what was wrong and she told him she didn’t want to sleep in the car. He told her that she would probably feel better if she could hear some music. He looked over at us and we nodded and he picked Terri up and took her over and sat her down on top of the juke box. He fished a nickel out of his pocket and put it in the slot. Then, he picked up Terri again and held her so she could see the buttons and explained to her how to push the button and select a song. Terri was intrigued by all of this and had quieted down. She pushed a button and in a few seconds, we could hear Bobby Bare singing “Detroit City”. Things are going great and we are all enjoying the music until Bobby gets to the chorus. Then, he sings out, loud and clear, “I wanna go home, I wanna go home!” Terri starts crying and yelling, “I wanna go home, too!” We were right back where we started. The cowboy had been thinking he had done something good but Terri’s song selection had wiped that out and now he was left with a red face. Pat and I had enjoyed the peace and quiet but that was over. We finally finished our pie and bathroom trips and got everyone back in the car and took off down the road.

The kids settled down and went to sleep and Pat and I relaxed and looked forward to an uneventful drive through New Mexico. Some hours later, we were a few miles from Vaughn and saw the most amazing sight. We were in an area of rolling hills and those hills were covered with jack rabbits! Everywhere we looked there were jackrabbits and their eyes were reflecting the headlights of the car. Mostly, they were setting in pairs so it must have been some kind of a mating thing. There were hundreds or maybe thousands of them. There wasn’t any traffic at that time of night so I slowed down and Pat tried to wake the kids. I don’t know if any of them got fully awake or if they remember seeing the jack rabbits. It was something that Pat and I will never forget.

Dave Thomas
December 3, 2014


Some Help With The Mail

Im always curious about the intellect and reasoning powers of animals and am sometimes amazed at what I see. Sometimes the actions are subtle and you have to watch closely and other times a response will be purely blatant. Our son, Doug, was given a small, white, rabbit for Easter one year. This rabbit lived in a shelter and pen on our patio. We let him run around the house and yard and he was quite at home no matter where he was. He was easily house-broken so that was no problem. He had grown into a full-sized rabbit at the time I am recalling for you now.

Pat and the kids were out and I was home alone with the rabbit. I brought him in the house and petted him and then turned him loose. I turned on the TV and settled into my favorite spot on the floor, leaning back against the coffee table. I was doing some preliminary thinking about a home project and needed information about parts and tools. I had a Popular Mechanics and a Mechanics Illustrated and was going through the classified ads in the back of them. I had a notebook and a box of No. 10 envelopes and a pen. Whenever I found an ad that looked promising I would write a request for a catalog and slip it into an envelope.

As I said, I was sitting on the floor and had opened the lid on the box of envelopes and placed the box within reach. There were probably 25 or 30 envelopes left in the box. The rabbit has been wandering around the house, looking for someone to play with and had no luck so he got bored. Wanting to be petted or messed with, he nudged my hand with his nose. Well, Im trying to keep up with a TV program and get some catalogs ordered so I just scratch his ears and push him away. He tries a few more times to get some attention with no luck. His little mind gets busy and Im not sure whether he decides to punish me or get my attention. He reaches into that envelope box with those big buck teeth and lifts out a No. 10 envelope and places it on the carpet next to my leg. He sits back and looks at me to see what Im going to do. Ive been watching him out of the corner of my eye because I figure that if I make eye contact Ill have to acknowledge him. Not getting any response from me he goes into the box again, gets another envelope and places it on top of the first one. Again, he sits back on his haunches and watches for a reaction from me. Two can play at this game so I just keep ignoring him.

Does he quit? No, hes relentless! He keeps pulling the envelopes out one at a time without stopping except to see what my reaction might be. The pile of envelopes is getting higher and I finally cant keep from laughing. He wins! I pick him up and hug him and the catalog requests are over for the night. I just sat there on the floor and held him and petted him while I watched TV.

Dave Thomas
August 15, 2014

Grandpa At The Movies

Grandpa- At the Movies

Sunday afternoons were generally quiet in Augusta, Kansas, our small town of 5,000 people. The skating rink would be open and the Augusta Movie Theater would show a matinee’. Only the best movies were shown on Sunday. It might be a musical or a drama or a big-time western with big box-office stars performing. People usually started lining up at 2:00 P.M., the ticket booth would open at 2:15 and the movie would start at 2:30. If it was a good movie, the line might be 1/2 block long or longer. Sundays were family time so the whole family would be in line. There was always a lot of visiting as the line always contained people that you hadn’t seen for a week or two.

Grandpa, A.A. Thomas, didn’t go to the movies but he liked to be up there on Sunday afternoon to catch up on his visiting. In a town that size you knew everyone so it was easy to feel at home wherever you went. Grandpa loved to talk and joke so he was really in his element when in front of the movie house. He teased all the kids, flirted with all the women (even if their husbands were standing right there) and joked with all the men or started an argument just to liven things up.

One balmy Sunday, Grandpa had started an argument and he and a couple of men were getting pretty loud. About this time, a rookie cop came strolling up on foot patrol. The kid had been hired from out-of-town so he didn’t know anybody and no one knew him. You could see how green he was and that he probably just learned to wipe his chin and tie his shoes last week. He didn’t know that Grandpa and the other guys were just blowing and having a good time so he thought he should put a stop to it. Since Grandpa is the loudest of the bunch, the cop gets up in his face and tells him to quiet down. Grandpa pretty much ignores him and keeps arguing and that makes the cop mad. He starts talking tougher and reaches out to grab Grandpa’s arm. That’s when it got serious…Grandpa hauled off and decks this kid with one punch.  All the men around started scrambling and some grabbed Grandpa and some grabbed the cop. They escorted them both around the corner to the Police Station and called the Justice of the Peace at home. The J.P. came down to the Station and did some preaching to both of them. He told Grandpa that an 80 year old man ought to know better than to hit a policeman. Then he told the rookie cop to never challenge one of these old guys unless you are ready to go to war. The J.P. then sent Grandpa home and told the cop to go back to work.

Three different people told this story to my Mom the next day so I think it’s pretty accurate.

Dave Thomas
April 25, 2013


Another Story: Frank

 In our town of 5,000 we had a police chief, 3 or 4 police officers, and 1 police car. We knew all the cops by their first names because that’s the way it was in a small town. When the cops were driving down the street, they would always smile and wave. Again, that’s the way it is in a small town. One of the cops was a young man named Frank Bennington. Frank was a tall, slim, good-looking guy who always had a smile and a good word for grade school kids like us. The thing was, though, that Frank had an edge about him and you knew he wasn’t anyone you would want to mess with.

I knew Frank when I was in grade school and then he was missing from the local scene for a few years. I guess about the time I’m 16 or 17, Frank is back in town and he is Chief of Police. He looks a little harder, tougher but still a nice man.

One evening, I walked down town and messed around and about 9 o’clock was walking back home. I got to the corner of 6th Street and State and looked to the west and saw a bunch of people standing around by the Scholfield-Hurst Ford dealership. This was kind of strange so I headed down there to see what was going on. There were a bunch of cars parked so that their headlights focused on the door to the Parts Department and people all around that were looking the same way. Out in the middle of the driveway was Chief of Police, Frank Bennington. Frank was wearing his side-arm like he always did but in his right hand he was carrying a shotgun…a 12 gauge pump. I asked one of the crowd what was going on. He said that our local switchboard operator at the telephone company had gotten a signal, and when she answered, no one responded. She listened for a bit and determined that at least two men had broken into the Ford garage and had knocked a phone off the hook as they commenced to rob the place.

I should explain that our telephone company was pretty small. I think there were a local operator and a long-distance operator on duty at night. To show you the size of our telephone company, the phone number for the filling station that also served as the Bus Stop for Greyhound and Continental Trailways was “2”, the movie theater was “11”, the Chevrolet garage was ”66”, and my aunt was “413”. Yes, life was simple then.

Getting back to the story…the operator listened for a moment, determined what was happening, and called the cops. Frank was at the station as was one other cop. They hurried on over to the garage and as they stood there and checked it out, a crowd immediately began forming. I was told that Frank had already yelled out for the men inside to come out with their hands up. I stood there and watched for a while and I guess that Frank got tired of waiting. He raised that shotgun to his shoulder and yelled “Come on out with your hands up or I’ll come in shooting!” The next thing we heard was “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! We’re coming out!” The two guys came dashing out the door with their hands up and were obviously scared to death. It turned out that they were two out-of-town punks from Wichita who thought our little old hick town would be easy pickin’s. It probably would have been, but for an alert telephone operator and a no-nonsense cop.

Dave Thomas
December 5, 2013

Izzie-1: World Champ

Iz 1

No. 1: World Champion


“The Cat That Caught 14 Lizards and 1 Mouse While In Harness And Attached to A 5 Foot Leash!”

Since the year has come to a close I’m declaring my cat, Isabella, to be World Champion and Title Holder for the year 2011. The title is: “The Only Cat Who Caught 14 Lizards and 1 Mouse While Harnessed up and Attached to a 5 Foot Leash!”

I know that a little background information is necessary so I’ll provide it now. Two years ago, our daughter, Terri, got a call from a lady realtor she knows. The woman explained that she had sold a new condo to a man who was a cat lover. The problem was that he had four cats and the Homeowners Association only allowed three. The man picked his youngest cat, a five year old and placed her in a Pet Motel where she had been languishing for three months while he tried to find her a new home. This was getting expensive so he decided to give it one more try before he gave up and took the cat to the pound. He called his realtor and she called our daughter who then called us. Our cat had died two years before and we didn’t really want another but this story was so compelling we agreed to take Isabella.

The owner showed up the next day with Isabella in a brand new carrier with a soft blanket in the bottom, a sack of the expensive nutritional canned cat food, and Izzie’s medical records. He gave us the cat and the other items and you could see it was breaking his heart. He explained that he had found Izzie in a cardboard box in the parking lot of his former home and had taken her in and she had been an “inside” cat ever since. He cautioned us to never let her get out of the house because she wouldn’t understand traffic or coyotes or any of the other dangerous things to be found out there.

Soon after we got Izzie we saw that she really wanted to get outside and explore. We talked about it and decided we should get a harness and leash and try to train her to walk with us. We went to the pet store and lo and behold, discovered that cat harnesses are a common item. We bought an attractive red harness and leash set and headed for home to try it out. We thought that the best way to train Izzie would be to use the same routine each time so she could memorize the steps involved. I selected one of the reclining chairs that I would use every time and determined that I would always sit down and place Izzie on my legs and facing away from me while I attached the harness. It turned out that the surprise was on me! I placed Izzie in position on my legs and she stood there stiff-legged and quiet while I latched the two snaps and attached the swivel. When I completed the tasks, I said “okay” and she took that as her cue to jump down and head for the door. That first time, she seemed to know exactly what we were doing and she performed the drill perfectly and has done so ever since. What a cat!
 Iz 2

Our first walk was exciting. Izzie checked out every inch of our property with all senses on full alert. I’m sure that she memorized every sight, sound, and smell in the yard. You could see that her eyes and ears were constantly moving and that her nose twitched full time as she acquired information for her memory bank. You’ll see how she used this information as we get into her hunting stories.

Izzie’s first lizard catch came as quite a surprise to me. We were walking in the grass, along side the hedge. Izzie was in her customary position, about two steps in front of my right leg. She was looking at everything but I was just gazing at the blue sky and some puffy white clouds. All of a sudden…WHAMMO! The leash was almost jerked out of my hand as Izzie dived under a bush. She backed out from under the bush with a lizard in her mouth

Iz 3

which she dropped at my feet and then looked up at me with such a proud look on her face. I told her what a great hunter she was and continued to praise her as she stood guard over her prize. Every time the lizard moved she would put her paw on it and hold it until it quit wiggling. I finally picked Izzie up and carried her away before she killed the lizard.

Most of the lizard catches went the same way. If the lizard was smart it would play possum after she dropped it and she would get bored and turn away and the lizard could escape. I didn’t interfere until she had learned everything possible from the experience.

Izzie caught two lizards while Pat was walking her. The first catch was on the patio and she simply outran it. The second catch was much more impressive and gave more of an indication of how her mind was developing. Pat and Izzie were walking on the grass next to the hedge when all of a sudden Izzie lunged. Pat was able to see a lizard running under a bush and it was just out of reach. Izzie was still lunging and trying to get to the lizard but was at the end of the leash. The lizard ran to a bush and scampered up the trunk and into the lower branches. Pat and Izzie got closer as the lizard was climbing higher in the bush. As Izzie got to a spot under the lizard she tried to go for it but the branches were too dense and she couldn’t reach it. She settled back on her haunches, keeping her eyes on the lizard. All of a sudden, she jumped up and grabbed the lower branches with her two front paws and started shaking the branches vigorously. It wasn’t long until the lizard dropped to the ground and she grabbed it with her teeth. She solved her problem, grabbed her prize, and then proudly dropped it at Pat’s feet.

Sometimes Izzie wants to stay out in the back yard for a while so we stake her out and then check on her every 10 or 15 minutes. Again, her leash is only five feet long but that doesn’t deter a mighty hunter like her. She’ll lay there for 30 minutes without moving until some dumb lizard wanders into range and then, like a lightning strike, it’s all over. Once she’s done the deed, she makes that throaty “kill” sound like all cats make and we go get the lizard before she tries to eat it. I made the mistake of letting her eat one and she had a stomach ache for two days.

Okay, I’ve saved the best story ‘til last. We’ve got a sidewalk that runs clear across the back of the house and across the north side and is right up against the footing. From the sliding glass patio door around to that diagonal corner of the house it’s probably 90 or 100 feet. One fine morning, Izzie and I came through the patio door and stepped down on the patio. As her feet hit the ground, she froze for an instant and then took off down the sidewalk as fast as she could go with me struggling to keep up with her. The amount of power a little old cat can generate is astounding! I felt like she was dragging me all the way! We got to the end of the house and she slid around the corner with her claws scratching the concrete and immediately regained her speed. I’m trying to stay on my feet as we race to the other end and she doesn’t seem to notice that she is dragging me behind her. We get to the other end and she zips past the trash cans and sticks her nose up into the corner of the fence. She pulls back out of there and she’s got a lizard in her mouth! All I can say as I try to catch my breath is “what the heck?”   I still can’t believe it. That lizard was probably 100 feet away, around a corner, and climbing a wooden fence, and she knew exactly where it was! Amazing!

Iz 4

This concludes my justification of the superior ability of Isabella and I am proclaiming that she is “The Only Cat Who Caught 14 Lizards And 1 Mouse While Harnessed Up And Attached To A 5 Foot Leash!”

Dave Thomas
May 16, 2012

Cutting Horse

Cutting Horse

I received a clipping about the Augusta City Lake drying up. It was the same way in 1955 …the north end of the lake had dried up and a good crop of tumbleweeds and other trash had grown up.

That spring, I and a couple of other guys had taken a truck down to Oklahoma and bought a load of horses for 50 bucks a head. In the spring, the Indians run the horses down out of the hills and sell them off and if you are careful you can pick out a few head that will  make decent riding horses and can train and sell them and make a few bucks. I bought 2 head and by the middle of summer had sold off one and was making good progress with the other. The one I had left was a little gray gelding that weighed about 900 lbs and looked more like a big dog. He was so quick on his feet you had to really be alert or he’d be going one way and you’d be going another. I was keeping him on a farm that was 2 sections over from the city lake and rode him over there pretty often. The dry lake bed was smooth and wasn’t full of gopher holes though like I said there was a fair amount of brush.

Bear with me because I’m finally getting to my story. One day we rode over to the lake and when we got out on that dry lake bed we jumped a jack rabbit. Well, that little old Smokey horse cut that rabbit off and went to working him just like it was a steer. That jack rabbit was quick but that horse was quicker and I had a hell of a time keeping my seat. We worked that rabbit until he was so frazzled he wouldn’t even move. That was one of the best afternoons I ever had on a horse.

Dave Thomas
November 2, 2011



Let The Sun Shine In

I’d like to tell you about an interesting beach house but first I need to describe the setting. Mission Bay, San Diego, and the parks surrounding it make up a fabulous playground for people of all ages. As late as the 1950’s, the area was mostly nothing but marshes. Now, it’s a beautiful 4,200 acres of water, beaches, green parks , and sidewalks wide enough to accommodate bikes, skates, and joggers. There are many beautiful ocean-front properties facing the Pacific but the bayside properties are equally elegant.

Several years ago, Pat and I rented the downstairs portion of a beautiful bayside home for a week. The kids and grand-kids were invited to come and go as often as they could.

The house was owned by a couple who lived in the upstairs part of the place while they made a very comfortable living renting out the first floor. The house was furnished in very good taste with quality furniture and accessories. However, it was the upstairs that was amazing. The eastern wall that faced the bay was a garage door! Imagine sitting there and drinking your morning coffee and punching a button and having the wall roll up! The morning sun comes streaming into your combination kitchen and family room while you enjoy that cup of coffee and watch the sail boats and rowers go by. Fantastic!

One morning, I was on the other side of the house and the door to the garage was open. Sitting there and looking proud and sassy was a 1956 Thunderbird just like this picture.


Dave Thomas
February 26, 2015


Quarry Story Number 1

The sky was blue and the sun was shining but the temperature was probably in the low 40’s. If you kept moving you were okay but stopping just exposed you to the full effect of the wind up here on top of the pasture. We had come up out of the old limestone rock quarry and were moving uphill, to the northeast, and approaching a limestone outcropping at the crest of the hill. If you had asked, we would have told you we were rabbit hunting. We each carried a .22 rifle and were good enough with them. I was twelve or thirteen and Jack was a couple of years older. If you had questioned us further we would have told you that we were just there for the joy of being outside and didn’t really care if we saw a rabbit or not. This section of ground was a limestone dome that had been drilled on and there were a half dozen pump jacks scattered around that were bringing up oil with every dip of their heads they made. The land itself was pretty poor in that only a couple inches of dirt covered the limestone and that would only grow some short grass and weeds. The whole section was only supporting a couple of cottontails and we practically knew the wary little devils by their first names after seeing them vanish over the crest of the hill so many times.

We were just cutting across the top of the hill to get over to a place on the river where we might have better luck. We decided to take a breather and stopped at this little gully that meandered down from the crest of the hill. If you dropped to the ground you were out of the wind and could enjoy the feeling of the warm sun. After sitting there for a minute we began hearing a soft crying sound. We hadn’t seen any people or animals as we walked so had no idea what it was. As we sat there and tried to tune out the sound of the wind the sound became clearer and seemed to be an animal in distress. We began searching the area around us and right at the crest of the hill found some vertical slabs of limestone with a crack between them. The sound was coming right out of that crack so we scooted over there and tried to see into it. It was about noon so the sun was above us and was showing into the hole. We could see that the hole was probably 10 foot deep and had big rough stones in piles around the edges. Due to the shadows we couldn’t determine what kind of critter was in there so we pulled some wild oats out of the side of the hill and knotted them into a hank. We always carried matches in case we would want to cook something so lit our “torch” and dropped it into the hole. We were amazed to see a young calf looking up like he was the happiest guy in the world to see us. I was afraid he may have broken a leg when he fell in so I decided to go in and check him out. The hole was large enough for me to get through and it looked like there were plenty of hand-holds so I went on in. I ran my hands up and down his legs and everything was good so I climbed back out. The pasture was used by a farmer named Glen Lietzke who had been a high school classmate of my folks. I knew Glen better than Jack did so I headed on over to his farmhouse while Jack stayed there to talk to the calf and keep him quiet. The house was only half or three-quarters of a mile away and as I got there and started down the lane, Glen arrived in his pickup. After I explained the problem, Glen went to the barn and picked up a couple of ropes and then we headed back over to Jack and the calf. Glen was a stocky man and couldn’t fit through the hole so he asked me to get back in there and put the ropes on the calf. Glen directed me on trussing up the calf and then he and Jack hauled him up while I tried to keep him lined up. At first it didn’t seem like the calf would fit through the hole but eventually we got him lined up right and he slid right out.

That calf was a lucky fellow. We didn’t ordinarily cut across that pasture because we knew we’d never get a rabbit up there. Glen was tickled that he hadn’t lost a calf and Jack and I were happy that we’d had another adventure.


Dave Thomas
October 20, 2013


Is Anybody There?

Weve all heard the terms birdbrainand bird-brained. They are applied to people who are slow to think or are stupid. The terms are quite derogatory and can surely be applied to the birds themselves. However, Im not sure that these words can aptly be applied to parrots. I know that all parrot owners think their birds are brilliant and capable of thinking and saying wonderful things. Its like the parents of human babies coming to work and telling you of the meaningful things their 6-month old did the night before. Most of us have a tendency to roll our eyes and say Yowsure!Well, Pat and I have actually come to the belief that parrots can express real thoughts.

Our friends, John and Ollie were going on vacation and needed someone to birdsit their parrot, Highpockets. Their friend who normally took care of that was going to be out of town also. We knew that John had Highpockets over 25 years and would be quite worried about him so we agreed to let him stay with us. It worked out fine and over the years we took care of him a number of times.

The first time John brought Highpockets over he gave us a thorough briefing on how to take care of him. He concluded by telling us how he liked to whistle at girls, sometimes sang opera, and sometimes spoke Spanish. Yes, I know, this is where we all roll our eyes and say Yowsure!Proud parentsjust cant resist telling you all that cute stuff they believe to be true.

The first couple of days were pretty normal with no events to traumatize the parrot or us. Pat and I were watching TV in the living room with Highpockets sitting on his perch. Pat went to the kitchen and got some grapes she was chilling in the refrigerator. We were enjoying the grapes and both of us had commented on how good they were. I said I wonder if Highpockets likes grapes?Pat says I dont know?A few seconds later, Highpockets chimes in with I like grapes.We almost fell out of our chairs. To think that the parrot could actually process information and correctly respond to it just about blew our minds.

We had a dog named Herbie that loved to play with the kids. Herbie was half Airedale and looked it with that Airedale hair and he was smart as a whip. The kids would throw balls and sticks and he would fetch though once in a while he would grab the item and run off just so the kids would chase him. One day they were all out in the back yard playing. Russ threw a stick and Herbie was off like a streak of lightning to fetch it. I guess Herbie thought it would be more fun to run off with the stick so h he took off around the yard. Russ is running after him and yelling Stop, Herbie!Doug and Terri had joined in but they were yelling Run, Herbie!Meanwhile, Highpockets is on his perch in the living room and can see all the action in the back yard through the picture window. All the commotion gets Highpockets excited and he starts bouncing around on his perch and yelling Run, Herbie, run! Run, Herbie, run!

At first, we thought it was kind of cute, the way Highpockets was attracted to our daughter, Terri. Later, we decided his demeanor was that of a stalker or a dirty old man. When out of his cage he would follow her and he looked pretty sinister when he did it. He would walk along at an even pace with the tips of his wings crossed behind him and look just like a little old man with hands clasped behind his back. Terri would be trying to get away from him and if he succeeded in cornering her he would give out a fiendish little laugh. Highpockets scared the heck out of her and to make it worse he even bit her toes. Sometimes when Terri would go into the bathroom, Doug would get Highpockets  out of his cage and place him outside the bathroom door. When Terri opened the bathroom door to come out, her nemesis would be waiting there to confront her and would give out that fiendish laugh. That rotten bird was relentless and would stalk her until she would shut herself in her room or go outdoors. She hates parrots to this day.

Parrots make a lot of noise. At bed-time, you put a cover over their cage and being in the dark they will go to sleep and stay quiet until the next morning. Pat and I have always gotten up early so when Highpockets was visiting we would uncover his cage early in the morning. Some days he would sing and jabber at the top of his lungs and wake the kids up and drive us nuts in the process. One night before going to bed we talked about the noise problem and how nice it would be to get up and have a cup of coffee without listening to all of that. We decided that after getting up we would leave the cover on the cage and hope that Highpockets  would remain asleep and wed have some peace and quiet. The next morning, Pat and I woke up about the same time and got ready to go downstairs. We remind each other of our pact to stay quiet. We come down the stairs as quietly as we can and tip-toe across the living room. Just as we get to the kitchen door we hear this tentative little voice coming from the cage…”Is anybody there?

Okayyou can roll your eyes all you want. Pat and I are convinced that parrots can think and reason. Just thinking about it and remembering these incidents makes the world seem like a lot more fun.

Dave Thomas