A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Adventures of Smokey The Crow

One of Smokey's relatives
This story takes place when I was a little bit too young to develop any memories, so many thanks to my brother Gene for writing this for me.  Here are Gene's recollections along with some parenthetical comments from me:

When we were growing up our Dad worked for the telephone company. He also did electrical and refrigeration repairs on the side. Sometimes he would get real pay for these side jobs, but more often he would get other items instead of pay. He even brought home a 1930 Model A Ford one day.

I remember the day he brought home Smokey the Crow. We were mesmerized; Smokey could actually talk! He had taken the crow as payment for some repair he did for Blue Minor from Boles, Arkansas. He explained to us that some people said you had to split the crow’s tongue so they could talk, but Smokey disproved that because his tongue was not split.

For growing crows
He had a wire cage about 4 foot square made out of the same black sticks we got from the furniture factory to stake tomatoes and beans. They were nailed together and covered with chicken wire. We kept Smokey in that cage and Dad kept his wings clipped so he would not fly away when we got him out to feed him. Feeding him was an interesting job. We would mix him some “Pablum” baby cereal and separate a clothes pin to dip it out for him. We had to hold on to the clothes pin as hard as we could because Smokey would swallow it too if he got it away from us. I guess he really liked that cereal because he would make a “yum-yum” sound while eating.

We learned very soon that Smokey was very accurate when he had to go to the bathroom. We had to be sure not to get too close to the cage after he had eaten, if you know what I mean. For this reason we eventually let his wings grow out and got rid of the cage. There was a very large Elm tree by the driveway, and it soon became Smokey’s favorite roost. He would sit up there and exclaim “Hello” to anyone who passed by. Our Grandmother (Me-Maw) worked as a cook at Bill and Jo Cope’s CafĂ©. She would walk past the house on the way to work and return in the afternoon after work. Smokey took to greeting her with “Hello” in the morning and he would then escort her to work and go get her in the afternoon. I never could figure out where he wore his watch. (Mama used to tell about a day when Memaw was sick and didn't go to work.  Smokey became concerned, and went down to check on her.  He lit on her screen door and scratched until she came to the door!)

Smokey was a very enjoyable pet to grow up with but he sometimes got himself into trouble. Our neighbor, Sophia Floyd would hang her laundry on her clothes line behind her house. I suppose Smokey liked the different colors, so he would land on the clothes line and look at the bright colors. Refer back to my earlier mention of Smokey’s accuracy and you can imagine the trouble he brought onto himself. Due to this we had to get rid of Smokey so I have to believe that Dad took him out to a large group of crows and introduced him to the group where he lived out a very long and fruitful life. I always say “Hello” to any crow I see, in case it might be one of Smokey’s grand kids.

(My brother Gary recalls an incident in which Smokey went missing one day.  After searching the neighborhood, it was discovered that a local houligan who shall remain nameless had hit Smokey with a rock, breaking his leg and causing him to fall out of his tree.  The houligan then took Smokey to his house.  When this was discovered, Daddy went to get Smokey and gave the houligan a quarter for feeding him.  I remember this incident as well, but other family members think it may have happened with a different crow.  In any case, the broken leg eventually fell off and we had a one-legged crow.)

I'll bet that we probably weren't the only family in Waldron that had a pet crow!