Summers in Dodge City meant playing outdoors with one or all of other neighborhood kids: Becky, Sherry, Jimmy, Kirby, Shelly, Cheryl, Billie, Dana, Brett, or Margie. Whether in our yard, their yard or everyone’s yard, we were usually accompanied by our dog, Susie. I have no recollection of Susie as a puppy. Nor do I remember when we got her. She was just a part of the family — until the summer of 1965. During that summer, Susie went to the vet while we went on vacation. However, Susie never came home from the vet. Needless to say, tears were shed over the loss of this childhood friend.
About the time, I was in 4th grade, we added a small black kitten to the family — Blackie. Blackie and Susie soon became friends. Blackie was an indoor / outdoor cat. He would sleep with me at night but was free to go in and out as he wanted. When he was young, we tried to put a collar with a bell on him. One day he had disappeared and we thought he was lost. Later in the day, he came hobbling home — with his paw caught in the collar. That was the last time he wore a collar in Dodge City.
During the summer of 1965, Blackie made the trip with us to Lincoln, Nebraska. He rode in a cage in the back of the (un-air conditioned) station wagon. The vet had recommended that we use a tranquilizer with Blackie so that he would handle the ride. Well, Blackie howled most of the way from Dodge City, Kansas to Lincoln, Nebraska. Needless to say, the tranquilizer didn’t work.
The city of Lincoln had a leash law for cats. Thus, Blackie had to wear a collar again and could only go out while on a leash. We had a clothesline going across most of the back yard. Blackie’s leash was attached to this line so that he could move across most of the yard. A family of squirrels lived in the large tree at the back of the yard. These squirrels loved to taunt Blackie. Blackie tricked one of the squirrels into coming too close and killed the squirrel. After that, the squirrels left Blackie alone.
According to dad, Blackie made the drive from Lincoln to Emporia without howling!