Pet Paradise

We were pet-impaired when I was a kid because my mom had an intense dislike of animals, and my sister had serious allergies. We finally got to have a canary. Although my dad wanted to name it Guiseppe Birdie, my mom leaned toward Conrad Birdie. And so, Conrad I, Conrad II, .... canaries lived at our house. We purchased each canary at Kresge's at the primitive version of a mall near our home.

Each canary did sing beautifully when the spirit moved it. They liked to sing when my mom vacuumed. The canary also sang during the CBS news bulletins after Robert Kennedy was killed by Sirhan Sirhan. I was home sick from school that day with strep throat. My mom was waxing the kitchen/dining floor, so all the dining chairs were lined up in front of the t.v. She must have been hosting her bridge club that night. It is a black and white memory, but very vivid. I can smell the floor wax.

My brother had an aquarium. We used to go to Pet Paradise on 48th St. north of Vine, to buy fish that would live shorter lives than your average matinee performance consumptive opera sopranos. Did you ever have an aquarium? I remember some sort of weird fluffy stuff called "Angel Hair" that had to be put in the bottom or the aquarium. What was that stuff? Asbestos? Fiberglass? Pet Paradise specialized in green parakeets, and baby turtles in those plastic bowls with the fake palm tree. Pet Paradise is a black-light day-glo memory, even though it predates the hippie era.

We saved the bones from our Sunday broiled steaks to take to the neighbor's springer spaniel, "Doc Doggy". This was my folks' attempt to get me over my fear of dogs. Doc Doggy was a nice dog, but had Houdini tendencies. Another neighbor's cat was less favored. My folks referred to it as "Clod-Ball", but I thought that it was "Claude-Ball", like Monet.

My youngest son had years of dog fears that I totally sympathized with. He encountered a huge dog that wandered into our garage in Edmond, OK, when itty-bitty Steven was climbing out of our Ford Aerostar. It took lots of crayon drawings about "Garage Doggie" to get him over that scare. It took far more drawings when his first "Fishie" leapt out of the fish bowl due to an aquatic jihad.

Bye, Bye, Birdie.

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