When I was five, we adopted a handsome yellow cat from one of my father's cronies. I promptly named him Charlie George Washington Abraham Lincoln Brown. That was a mouthful, so we called him Charlie. He was the first cat we had that was my very own and I loved him dearly.
In 1968, we moved to Braman Street, and Charlie made a friend in Dusty Walfield, an all black cat with a sweet disposition. The two cats remained mostly inseparable, and Dusty even visited Charlie when he was inside our house. The picture accompanying this article is of Dusty and Charlie hanging out on my bed with some of my stuffed animals. Seeing that blue poodle brings back some vivid childhood memories. That blue poodle was actually a radio and I can remember listening to the Top 40 song countdown on it.
While Dusty was sweet, he wasn’t nearly as smart as Charlie was, and I think he turned to Charlie to help him make his way in life without getting himself in trouble. Charlie, I’m sure, enjoyed being the alpha cat and the leader of their gang of two.
Anyway, in our neighborhood, a girl attended a school outside of Danvers, and a taxi would come to pick her up every weekday morning. The girl, like Dusty, was sweet, but also needed some special help to get through her daily life.
One day my mother called me to the front window. Dusty was riding on the roof of the special-school taxi! Naturally, we were both afraid he would fall off and be hurt, or end up lost in a strange town. Although I don’t recall the details of how it came about, I do remember that the taxi came back awhile later that morning, with Dusty riding inside this time.
The adults commented that he’d tried to go to the school to get some “learning” with the girl he could relate too. They laughed about it, and it was soon forgotten. Yet I remember, and it’s even written on the back of the picture of Charlie and Dusty about Dusty’s big adventure.
Personally, I think Dusty was smarter than he was given credit for. After all, he figured out how to get himself on the taxi and on his way to school. Then again, riding on the roof of the taxi wasn’t particularly bright. I also wouldn’t put it past Charlie G.W.A.L. Brown to have put him up to it.
Charlie you see, was not only smart, he was a prankster. One of his favorite tricks was to sit on our bathroom scale and suck in his cheeks as if to show he was half-starved. It worked, too. My mom would go once a week to get him fish from the −when it actually was on Cherry Street.