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Did you know I have been writing A Farmhouse Journal for our local newspaper, the Brown County Press? For this column, I share many of my childhood stories of long ago growing up on a farm in the sixties. Here's one that ran recently. The story is very fresh for me today just as it was then, as you will soon see.
MY FIRST SHOW AND TELL
Moving to the farm was a great adventure for me. There was a barn to explore, a pond to explore and many, many outbuildings and farm animals. And for this little farm girl, there was a magnificent moment of finding my very own pet, unexpectedly one afternoon, and how I smuggled my new pet to school one day.
During first grade, I learned about Dick and Jane and the abacus for counting, which I was very good at because I had an older sister who “played school” with me and, you might say, I was advanced for my age.
So, when my first grade teacher asked us to “bring in a favorite item from home to share with the class”, our modern day show and tell back in the day, I knew what I would bring. I could think of only one thing that I loved more than the many, many things I loved at my house besides my family. It was my kitten.
Soon after we moved to the farm, one day playing in the yard, I heard an unusual noise coming from Daddy’s tool shed. I followed the sound to the workbench. Tilting my head to hear it better I found a wood box underneath with a tiger momma and her babies, four in all. But one of them had a coat of many colors. I had never seen such a sight before, only in picture books.
I scooped up the colorful one and held it close. It meowed very loud then purred. I took it to the house showing mom what I had found. “You have a Calico,” she told me because it has many colors. “You must take it back; its mother is worried about it as I would be about you if I couldn't find you. When she brings it out of the shed you can play with it, but for now just visit it?” And so I did. In due time, as she grew, we became inseparable. And, knowing this, how could I take anything to show and tell but my Calico?
Of course, when I mentioned it to my older sister Debbie, she said mom would not allow it. I knew that to be true, but she meant as much to me, this cute kitten, which I named, Calico?
So the morning of, I knowingly disobeyed. Before going to school, I bagged my kitten up in a brown paper grocery bag and folded over the top. I strategically placed it for a quick get-away. I scooped it up in a hurry and boarded the bus. All was going well that morning until; she woke up in the sack, between my feet under my wooden desk. I could hear her scratching the bag. Fearing that she was going to make a big fuss spoiling my show and tell surprise, I discretely slipped her out of the sack and put her in my wooden desk. After several tries to get onto my lap she suddenly poked her head up through the inkwell hole in the wood top and meowed. All eyes were on me and my kitten that then climbed out of the hole.
Mrs. Gossett, who I adored, came to my desk and allowed me to do my show and tell right then. I told my story, my face flushed, of finding her and naming her myself and how I carried her everywhere and how she would look over one shoulder then move to look over the other rubbing under my chin as she switched and we demonstrated.
I can tell you to this day, no one else brought a better ‘show and tell’ I assure you. After everyone gathered around to pet her, I put her back in the bag. However, I was asked to put her in the cloak closet at the back of the room because her meowing was distracting all of us. I did as told. But she got louder and louder. My heart was pounding.
Mrs. Gossett called me to her desk and so sweetly suggested we go to the office to call my parent to come and get her. A sickening feeling came over me. When the phone rang, mom wasn't home so Daddy answered. I told him, “I brought her to school for show and tell and she is just too noisy and would you come and get her?” Thankfully we lived only a few miles out of town and he came quickly. He called me to the hall and Mrs. Thelma Gossett assured him, “The class enjoyed it very much,” and closed the door behind her. I handed him the bag and held back tears. He stared for a moment then said, “Don’t do this again,” softly and with kindness. I nodded. And trust me, I didn't.
So Here's the Thing: My first Calico lived to be eleven years old. I have owned five Calico cats all total since. The one I have now is twelve and I adore her, and I will, till her end. Oh, and by the way, just so you know, every single one of them has been named Calico. Original don’t you think? When you find a winner, one that nourishes your being, stick with it! It is good for your soul.