Dog Days

There's some thing you just never expect to come up. A woman just walked into my office and asked me, "Do the names Cheena and Miss Jewel mean anything to you?"

See, way back in the way back, when my mom and dad lived hippie-farmer style out in the pine woods of Lloyd, we had a pair of pit bulls. A small one named Miss Jewel and a bigger one named Cheena. Photos from that time show little naked me or my even littler naked sister (okay, there may have been a cloth diaper or a tshirt involved - the under five set just don't need to wear much during a hot, Florida summer), hanging out on a blanket on the grass in the shadow of a pair of muscled, smiling dogs.

Those two thought we were their pups and would have died to protect us from the dangers of country life: snakes, critters, any car that pulled into the driveway and needed chasing, snacks that should be tested for poison. Family legend has it that when mama was 9 months pregnant with my kid sis, not-quite-two-year-old me decided to walk up to the mailbox and check it myself. They found me, bareassed, happily strolling down the dirt road far past the mailbox, Cheena and Miss Jewel flanking me and keeping me safe. (Mama damn near had a heart attack, and I'm still amazed she ever let any of us out of her sight again after that, by the way. And I'm sure she'll chime in here if I've scrambled the facts any.)

Back around to the woman who asked me about them - turns out, she's the ex of a friend of my family. And sure enough, when my folks got divorced and mom moved into town, she and her hubby gave those pups a home at their spread. Cheena either wandered off or got swiped, and I hope to god nobody used that good dog for fighting. Miss Jewel lived to a ripe old age, as she deserved.

I loved those dogs. I'm mighty glad to live in a town where, out of the blue, 25 years after the fact, someone can pop up and tell you what happened to old friends you never thought you'd hear about again.


Ms. Moon said...

You got the facts correct, my dear. There you were, naked as a jaybird, walking in the snakey ditch along Highway 59 where the logging trucks zoomed night and day, Cheena and Miss Jewel along for the adventure. I was not only nine months pregnant, my water had already broken.
This was my first and only experience with hysteria, which I had when I found you. I remember thinking, "Someone should slap me."
And by the way, none of the four of you HAVE ever been out of my sight since that day.
I am always watching.

Food and Brew Love said...

I love that about Tallahassee. I love the way it feels like a substantial enough town, but people here are still so connected. (usually a degree or two instead of six). Some people probably hate Tallahassee for the same reason.

The other day, I had the pleasure of catching one of the first inhabitants of our old house driving by, stopping, in front of the house. He came in with his wife and grand-daughter and replayed his entire childhood in the house ('43-'56)in a flood of disconnected clips. He hadn't been here since he left in '56. The next day, he came by with his daughter and a photo-album. His daughter (my age, and was never here before) took pictures of him in the house, and of my family here. Priceless.

I'm in love with this town because I love context, connection, history. It's inescapable here, even for me (even though I didn't grow up here). I'm not exactly a local (my husband is), but I've been adopted.

Thanks for the story and the imagery.