Between the years of 1952 and 1955, my parents were the telephone operators in Eagleville, Missouri. Someone had to be present in the house at all times to answer the switchboard and connect people with whomever they needed to call. Funny thing, we went to church every Sunday and I don't remember who came to babysit the switchboard... but I'm pretty sure someone did because you just couldn't leave it alone. It was a whole other member of our family. I do know that when there was something going on in the evening, or if we wanted to get away for a day or two, a teenaged girl named Velda sometimes took over.
Across the road from us lived the local school principal, a widower, and his daughter, Sarah Kay, who was a year or two older than I. Velda helped out over there, too, with meals and cleaning. She worked for them after school and maybe on weekends, I'm not sure. Stay with me here.
My dad's Uncle Bill Cook found a baby pigeon in a barn someplace and gave it to me. In order to feed a baby pigeon, you have to poke the food clear down his throat to his gullet because he can't swallow, but I was glad to do that. I loved my pigeon and named him Pidjie. I would spell it Piggie, but obviously that's a pig. So.
I raised the bird until he was pretty much full-grown, but he still didn't fly. I think he just didn't feel the need to fly. Back then I assumed he hung out with our chickens so much he didn't think he could fly. I would walk around with him on my shoulder or perched on my head. He was that tame.
All I have ever remembered about the end of the story is that a dog killed him. No details.
Today at my aunt's funeral, Velda told me the rest of the story.
Sarah, across the road, had taken charge of a stray dog that wandered into her yard. It just showed up and she began to feed it. One day that dog killed my pigeon. Even after hearing the story today, I have no recollection of the killer dog belonging to anyone. Velda said Sarah was heartbroken and crying after the incident. At some point that day I knocked on their door. Velda said my eyes were all red from crying about my pigeon, but I had two movie tickets in my hand. I wanted to know if Sarah would like to go to the movies with me that night.
Velda said it was just such a Christian thing to do, to try and make Sarah feel better.
Well, I can guarantee you that my mother was behind this; one can hope I learned something from it, even though I have no memory of this. Maybe my mother sending me over there with movie tickets wiped out any memory of someone to blame.
Sarah is also the person who taught me to tie my shoes (finally) when I was in the fourth grade. Hey, I never claimed to be a genius.