Dogs & Cats of Manumit
Hildy – That was pretty funny being DeeDeeShayShayBooBoo for a few minutes. Do you remember the game telephone where one person started a phrase and it was passed in whispers around the circle ? The initial phrase and end result were – usually hilariously – different. So it seems to be with memory. Fat she was, but not old in Pawling, and a mutt only part collie. And she was Anne’s dog, if Billy’s responsibility. There was a collie – Rex – who seemed to belong to the school. Someone eventually adopted him so I don’t think he made it to PA. All the dogs including a hound named Tinker Bell and a little scruffy reddish terrier named Trixie who belonged to housekeeper Erica Klein stood around the big locomotive wheel announcement bell outside the dining room howling long and hard until the last reverberations died away. A beloved Manumit symphony. DeeDee and my dog Madchen did their aging in PA where they shed copiously over the red tile floors of Billy and Amelia’s apartment. Madchen was buried under the huge oak tree out back. DeeDee probably was, too. They were replaced by Teensy, a wriggly asmatic bull terrier, Jenny’s boon companion. Haven’t forgotten your other questions. Have to have some coffee first to stir my brain. Yes, Stevie Stevenson was at the reunion but he doesn’t do e-mail. Craig Johns or Joyce Brown may have a snail mail address for him. Yes, good idea to put our dates at Manumit in the record. Mine (as a student) were the summer of ’39 to the spring of ’44. Billy and Amelia were married atBroad Meadows in Pawling (Manumit’s upper school) that spring. When they moved the school to PA, Manumit became my home until I made my own. Yes, the pretty, blonde, bandy-legged girl with the mismatched eyes (one blue, one green?) must have been your cousin Joanne; she and Gwiffy (Gwil) were sweethearts off and on, and off and on, for the five years I was there. My brother Hank was too old for Manumit. He attended Pawling High for perhaps a year along with Ruth Patsy Klein. Forget which year or where he lived, Our parents were divorced and he bounced around. Amelia came on as staff in I think ’40 so he was a staff kid and may have lived off campus with her. Some things are so clear – others a big blur. Jenny was born in Jan. ’45 after the school moved to PA. Yes, Anne Fincke, Joanne Lindlof and I were classmates at Manumit and later at the Cambridge School in Weston MA. Handsome Craig Work and Stevie were in a younger group while I was at Manumit Pawling. I remember them both very well. I think that covers your questions. No suggestions for digging back into the 20’s. The only person I can think of who might be helpful is Catha (Levinson) who was in a group ahead of mine and whose mother Polly taught at once Manumit.
Dog friends, I remember every single one of the dogs Barbara mentions only we called her Dee Dee Boo Boo Fincke. Also, Billy got a little black dog around the end of the forties and his/her name was Java and I remember the year we lived in the staff house waiting nightly for Billy to take him/her out for a walk, calling in a high voice, “Here Java Java Java, here Java Java Java.”
I recall dogs galore, but does anyone remember seeing a cat at Manumit? As I was telling Thelma there were cats when I first arrived(’39); I had one. Then there was an overnight cat sweep and they were gone, including mine. I can’t recall what we were told. Very mysterious. Were there barn cats?
My theory now – if there were no cats – is that Billy was such a bird lover he would have banned them. But just a theory.
My little black cat was owned in partnership with another eleven year old girl. We’d found it among several others in the horse barn at the Danbury Fair and in exchange left (without asking) 25 cents apiece and a note: For the kitten. This meant we were each sacrificing two carnival rides and an ice cream cone. I wish I could recall our discussion of the morality of what we were doing. Smuggling it back on the noisy bus must not have been a problem. I can’t recall how we cared for it. It wouldn’t have been allowed in the dormitory. However it became an open secret, usually hiding under things outside to avoid all the dogs. We’d only had it for a few weeks though when it disappeared along with whatever other cats there were.
Any cat fancying recollections out there?
Barbara is right. Billy really disliked cats. I was never allowed to have one. Then around “57 or ’58 when there were only a few kid left on campus. we girls (there was only one group of us and we stayed in the annex of the old white house that used to be Ben & Magdas) found a black and white stray.We named her Creepy Lola (who did that?) and we kept her hidden for awhile but she was soon found out. The odd thing was that Billy became very fond of Creepy. She was a great cat. She was with us quite awhile but one day she disappeared. We were devastated.Billy too was upset. The rumor went around the Wendell East had drowned her. We plotted revenge but did not ever do anything as we could not get proof. We hated Wendell after that tho….After Creepy Lola I was allowed to have cats.
There was a large orange beast of a semi-feral cat that lived in the basement of the PA main house. A group of angry vigilante boys deciding his fate, somehow got him in a burlap bag and dumped him in Neshaminy creek. This wild dangerous cat emerged from his burlap deathtrap a soaking wet, confused kitty sitting on a rock in the middle of the stream looking at us. Boys will be… whatever possesses them.
Horses, dogs, even cats? of course. But does anyone remember the goose? He was the terror of my life, for one long season at least. He would be hanging out by the door of the carriage house and when I’d come out he be after me. honk! He was as big as I was then. That must have been when John and Ginny’s house was still a poultry coop? Did we eat him? There were also cows when I was very small. One brown one with big eyes (Jersey?) I was especially fond of. Her name I think was Gertrude. She ‘disappeared’ and after whenever we had meat for dinner the older boys(you meanies!) would say “It looks like Gertrude to me”
Yes, I remember the cows and the day we went out to that area just beyond the pasture to see one give birth. Impressive educational event.
Some of my earliest recollections of animals at Manumit also include Java, but by that time in fall of ’52, she was very much a part of the Hemberger family. She was the first of Carol and Ted’s “kids”; the next Alan, not born until Feb. ’53. Leslie, their fourth and last child and only daughter was born in Oct. ’59 and recalled Java fondly when I saw her at her wedding May ’05 in Bangor, Maine. She has a 20 year old son Teddy from a previous marriage. But the Java I remember had one litter in which each puppy looked like a different one of the other dogs on campus, including one huge puppy who looked a lot like John’s enormous but lovable, Beowolf. They also had Olaf, a tall scruffy pooch, pictured somewhere in our Manumit photos. (From this birth phenomenon I formulated my theory, I think correctly, of multiple fathers in the case of some multiple fraternal offspring.) Who says we didn’t learn anything at Manumit.
Hi BD, So many new memories–hard to re-remember them all! But cat tales and their mysterious dematerialization in Manumit Pawling, can herewith be accounted for, at least for one grayish, scrawny, siclkly feline.
Back in the early ‘40’s, late one eveniing my father, then the unofficial Manumit Dr. in residence (not yetUS accreditied MD) wanted to know if I was interested in observing how one can painlessly exterminate this sick animal. The procedure took place in the Mill’s downstairs business office, hard on the left of the front door. He injected this cat near its rear paws and I was instructed to carefully watch the fatefull potient travel up the cat’s spine, stiffining the body as it went. No pain, I was assured. But who knows how the cat would have felt?
You’re right Barbara! Jesus, what is it with all this cat horribleness. Lots of people had wonderful cats and were very nice to them, including me, and Susan Lagunoff and the Coopers. No more cat murders, please, at least not to me.
No, no his tail was fine – he just got wet. But, it was a gruesome mob reaction to our own fear. He seemed huge and his eyes glared in the reflection of a flashlight and he hissed at us. Could he possibly be that kitty in Peppy’s # 7?. I did not want to be there but could not leave – its how even little mobs work. Another impressive educational experience. These days I spend a good deal of time opening and closing doors behind my beautiful Persian, Jasper (no cat doors, as we have coyotes and some young boys in the neighborhhood)
Hildy: After John’ s letting the cat out of the bag, I get your multiply-fathered litter. All this animal memories – and the writing is strong and vivid. Do animals inspire strong writing? Thanks for reminding me of John’s Beowolf (or Floweob). I always liked that dog, think he was somehow in the back of my mind when I first encountered the Old English poem in college. Come to think of it, I liked John’s dog better than the poem, which always struck me as wordy macho heroics.
Jen: I vaguely remember a goose at Manumit. I’ve gotten to dislike them recently. The Chicago parks are overrun with geese, and they drop goose poop all over the paths, so that it’s like wading through a sea of green mud. They seem to think they own the park, though the real problem is that too many people feed them bad stuff like old McDonald’s hamburger buns and worse, and the geese love a free lunch and hang around all winter. Then they have more geese in the spring, and pretty soon they’ll probably cover the earth. A humane solution seems to be hiring border collies, which chase but don’t eat them. A park outside of Boston tried putting in a plastic coyote, but it was apparently stolen – perhaps by the geese.
I don’t remember the Manumit goose, but I have encountered geese at the Mariposa Folk Festival on a small island park offshore of Toronto in Lake Ontario, on the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester VA, and around the lake in Pittsburgh’s North Park, and they are veritable poop machines. Since I have become a kite freak in my later years, I can hassle the geese with an Indian fighter kite. It is highly maneuverable and can be made to dive at the geese and harrass them in a non lethal manner. I just have to be sure that the kite stays poop free. To quote the president of the kite club I belong to, “don’t tell me to go fly a kite, ’cause that’s just what I’ll do!” Eventually if not sooner I’ll make it to a reunion/gathering.
Ted: You’re hired! If I could, I’d bring you to Chicago’s Lincoln Park. This is off the Manumit subject, but I think the Manumit goose got some of us going on a more contemporary problem. I think the pesky poopers might qualify Aulay’s “evil animals” category.