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More Stories - The Way We Were
Sunshine - a Great Cat!
My father, newly ordained as a Baptist minister, took a church in the town of Wyoming, New York when I was six. It's still a quaint throwback to earlier times, with gas street lights. A farming community, Wyoming features the Appleumpkin Festival every fall. When we lived there, the town was built around a huge "common", and most homes had a back yard large enough for a barn, if one wished, a garden, and even livestock. By the map, it still looks like the common still exists.
Someone gave me a yellow kitten soon after we arrived, a Morris look-alike although not as large. I named him Sunshine. My parents had him neutered, and he never wandered like most toms, although he loved to mouse in our garden out back, and onto the edges of the common.
This was one of the most patient cats I've known. Sunshine stayed with me in my room during many of my childhood illnesses; he took shelter with me under a blanket on a cot on the porch when a sudden hailstorm hit during naptime. Marvelously, he let me dress him in doll clothes or outgrown baby layettes, and wheel him in a baby buggy. I even took him to friends houses in full dress when they wanted to play dolls, since I didn't go for dolls and didn't have any except for one short instance (see David: A Christmas Gift from the Heart).
He kept us company at mealtimes and while preparing food for canning or freezing, laying out of the way under the high-legged gas stove. When he wanted to go out, he jumped up on the breakfast table in the kitchen, which was beside the back door, and turned the knob to open it. This was a source of concern to my parents in wintertime!
We had a huge canning pressure cooker in frequent use before the freezer locker came to town. It had a weight on the top to release pressure in case one wasn't watching the gauge and let it get too hot. Probably the worst day of Sunshine's life was the day that sucker blew. Dad had just put down new linoleum in the kitchen, and it was shiny and slick. When the pressure cooker let loose with the most horrible hiss Sunshine had ever heard, he took off - or tried to. He ran in place for a while on the new flooring, scrabbling to get purchase. Finally he managed to take off, ran upstairs and hid in the attic for some time until he calmed down so we could coax him out.
When we moved to Nebraska almost five years later, I knew I would miss my friends and the beautiful hills surrounding the town, but most of all I missed Sunshine.