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Shorties or In the Same Cage (-ed.)

Probably early 1946

Every once in a while, after wading through several tons of wire copy in an effort to find something suitable for this daily chatter strip . . . a flock of little items turn up . . . earmarked as “out-of-this- world-things-that-happen-to-people-every-day.” Most of them funny . . . all of them interesting. They are the sort of stories that bounce against the watch springs of the mind. Like this, for instance:

Out in Medford, Oregon, Army Lieutenant Hugh Collins comes back from the wars with a pet parrot he picked up on Biak Island. Now, parrots being the alert birds that they are, “Snafu” (That’s the parrot’s name), picked up a G.I. vocabulary that somewhat shocked the good neighbors who lived near Lt. Collins. They protested to such an extent that “Snafu” was not only chastised by the local constabulary but was arrested and placed in a cell. The boys in the Medford Fire Department heard about the case, and petitioned the police for his custody. Snafu was released from solitary confinement and was placed on parole. Now it appears that the firemen have accomplished a minor miracle. Snafu no longer resorts to swearing at Medford’s passing citizens. He is now singing hymns! And according to the firemen, religiously attends Sunday morning services.

I’m not asking you to believe it. But that’s what it said in the wire copy.

* * * * *

And here in the same cage is another pet story from Brockton, Massachusetts that sort of fits the picture. Joseph Freeman who owns a grocery store in Brockton looks up as usual when the sun goes down, says goodbye to his watchdog and goes home for a quiet evening. Well, this one particular evening . . . or rather during the small hours, six thieves smashed a plate-glass window and helped themselves to some 50 cartons of cigarettes, 500 cigars, and 200 pennies. All this without so such as a “woof” from Rover, who was in a deep sleep behind the flour barrel. After the burglars departed, no doubt through the same broken window, making enough noise to wake a middle-aged mummy sleeping off an aspirin jag. The police arrived with sirens going and everything. Rover evidently can’t resist a siren . . . even in his sleep . . . So he stretched his sinews, pushing down hard on his huge paws, perceived the broken glass, took a speculative sniff and came to the conclusion that all was not in its proper place. He growled in his best watchdog fashion and galloped to the front of the store. Rover then refused, with teeth bared and everything thrown in, to let the police investigate. The robbers had carte blanche entree, but the minions of the law, nix!

However, Rover shouldn’t feel too frustrated. Out in Kensington, Illinois robbers broke into a Mr. Chadwick’s home and carted out considerable loot, including Chadwick’s watchdog. If I were in the market for a watchdog, this might discourage me, except that these yarns are the exception. That’s why they make the news.

. . . . And besides, I’ve got Murdoch. He’s always growling!

* * * * *

Since time immemorial, people all over the world have been aroused in the dark hours before daybreak, by the hearty crowing of the neighborhood rooster. Most everybody, even those who have never been further out in the country than the local showing of “Our Vines Have Tender Grapes,” know what a rooster looks like and how it sounds. As a matter of fact, Murdoch gets nostalgic and mooney-eyed every time he sees the Pathe News rooster strut his stuff . . . Says it takes him back to the farm where there was always gobs of butter, plenty of steak and so on . . . But that was decades ago.

To get back to the story . . . It seems that the city council in Waukegan, Illinois is allergic to roosters. Without a single dissenting vote, the council gravely passed an ordinance forbidding Waukegan roosters from crowing. Or, to quote section two, paragraph fourteen, forbidding roosters which crow from being in Waukegan. Furthermore, they slipped in a penalty. There is a fine of from one dollar to a hundred dollars per crow . . . . That is, per violation.

From what little I know of the manners and customs of the barnyard colony, when one of these roosters winds up and lets go, he doesn’t stop with just one crow. Even if he feels a little on the droopy side, he can let go with a series of erks that would add up to at least $750, quoting the scale in the Waukegan ordinance. It’s a fine state of affairs!

What would happen to the future generations of fowl, if the roosters went on strike, claiming the “right of free screech”?