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Big Kitty and the Cowboy

Story ID:6887
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Another memory from my past...

Big Kitty and the Cowboy
By Chuck Dishno

This tale happened a long time ago when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I lived in the small logging town of Bly, Oregon.

Bly had a population at that time of about four hundred people desperate for some form of entertainment. There was a movie theatre but they only showed movies on the weekends and had only one projector so you had to wait while the projectionist changed reels. Any kind of entertainment that came along other than the movies would "pack them in". It would even empty the "beer joints". Several times a year, some form of traveling show came to town.

One day an advance man came through town and put up posters advertising a "Wild West Show" with trick shooting, a horse that could count and do math problems and featuring a cat that he would teach to carry a bottle of Coca Cola across the room.

About two weeks later the show came to town and set up in the school gymnasium. What we weren't told was that it was a one-man show and he didn't even have a cat. As near as I can remember, it was a pretty good show with some trick gunshots and cutting newspaper strips with a whip. The horse kept slipping on the gym floor as he had put leather boots over his hooves to protect the floor.

During intermission, the cowboy was asked about the cat that was to carry the bottle across the gym. He said he didn't have a cat anymore but told us that he could teach any cat to do it if we could produce one. Not only that he would give someone $5.00 to bring a cat. Since I lived only two doors from the school, I volunteered to go home and bring my huge cat, "Big Kitty".
Five dollars was a lot of money to a kid my age so I went home to get the cat. Big Kitty was a mixture of many breeds and weighed about 15 pounds. She was a nice cat and must have sensed that something was about to happen.

When I finally caught her, I put her in a large paper grocery sack and headed back to the gymnasium. By the time I got there, the second half of the show had started and the cowboy was shooting his pistol and cracking his whip while sliding around on the poor horse. It was total bedlam in there but nothing compared to what was going on inside of that sack.

Poor Big Kitty was sealed up in a dark sack and couldn't figure out what was going on. I finally got her calmed down and sat in the front bleacher with the sack and cat on the floor between my feet.

At the end of the show, the cowboy came over to perform the "cat trick". He placed a bottle of Coke on the floor with the cap up. Remember these were the old bottle caps that required a "church key" opener to remove them, not the twist off kind. The idea of this trick was to reach into the sack, grab the cat by the tail and hold her over the Coke bottle. The cat in desperation to get away would reach down, grab the bottle cap with her claws and he would lift her, bottle and all, and carry her across the room.

It didn't work out quite that way. When he reached in, grabbed poor old Big Kitty by the tail and pulled her out she was screaming and was fighting mad. She did grab the bottle but when he held her up she somehow dropped it and it broke on the floor. Her next goal was to get the guy who was holding her by the tail. She instantly turned abound and proceeded to go up his arm, neck and finally on top of his head. He let out a scream and shouted some choice words as fifteen pounds of cat launched herself from his head and took off across the gymnasium floor much to the delight of the crowd.

While this was going on, his assistant was packing up the stuff and was leading the horse out the door. I was crying and not only wanted my cat back but also my $5.00, which he had not given me. He said that the cat didn't complete the trick and he wouldn't pay me. When several of the town men heard this they caught him at the door and got my money.

I'm sure he had to buy lots of Band-Aids to cover the scratches left by Big Kitty.

As for Big Kitty, she went straight up the gym wall and was perched high up in the ceiling beams and was about twice the size as when I put her into the sack. It took several hours to coax her down but I wasn't about to leave without my cat.

Big Kitty didn't seem too much for the wear as she lived at least ten more years and had many batches of kittens. What stories she must have told them. She was the talk of the town for many years to come.