I grew up in an apartment on the top floor of a South Bronx tenement building. The “front” window overlooked 148th street, and the “back” window overlooked an alleyway that was teeming with stray cats. Our much-loved house cat – a black and white beauty that eventually lived to the ripe old age of seventeen – was born in the alley, but enjoyed a safe, healthy, and well-fed life in our house.
As kids, my older brother Tommy and I would often sit out on the fire escape looking down and feeling sorry for the hungry cats that wandered the brick and mortar canyons between buildings. We didn’t want to sit idly and let them starve but weren’t exactly sure how to help them.
After tossing around a few ideas, we decided to form The Pussycat Club of America, an organization dedicated to filling the bellies of hungry alley cats. Tommy claimed the position of President and appointed me his VP. I asked if my best friend could join. But typical of a natural-born politician, Tommy said no because he didn’t want anybody to join the club who could later vote him out of office.
We dumped canned cat food onto a square of Saran Wrap, tied a string to each corner like an inverted parachute, and lowered the food four stories until it came to rest on the ground. We called “here, kitty, kitty, kitty” from our window, and a couple of cats came and gobbled the food we’d provided. A few more cats came for the next batch, and by the time we’d delivered a few loads, we had attracted quite a crowd.
All was going well until we overloaded the Saran Wrap. It tore somewhere around the second floor, and rained mushy food over the faces of twenty or more meowing cats who were looking up, waiting for more. A massive cat-brawl broke out. Windows flew open and tenants stuck their heads out to see what was going on in the alley. The melee of screeches and yowls lasted a good five minutes before tangles of fur disbursed and cats ran or limped away to lick their cat-food flavored wounds.
Discouraged, we tore up the club identification cards we had made and disbanded The Pussycat Club of America.
I often look back on the memory of those two scrawny kids with a bit of pride in my heart. We were visionaries who, armed with nothing but a couple of cans of cat food, Saran Wrap, string, and compassion, tried to make a difference in this world.
I was just thinking… Maybe, in light of our experience as executives in a national organization, Tommy and I should run for President and Vice President of the United States.
Anybody care to nominate us?
Hello? Anybody out there?