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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"one thanksgiving day out west"

thanks vintageimages.com
That's the title of a 1908 poem by Emma Dunning Banks, meant to be performed as a reading, about an old man's memories of a dramatic trip home for the holidays.  In this poem, "Grandpa" (actually Uncle Dan, not yet fifty) reminisces on the cabin thirty miles from any town where his adoptive family settles.  Comes the fall, and the little girl of the house gets lonely:
Well, the fall came on right early, and it seemed to me that Nan
Pined a little; when I asked her if ’twas so she said: ‘Now, Dan,
Don’t tell mamma, ’cause she’d worry, but I wish I had a pet—
P’rhaps you’ll think I’m always wishing for something I cannot get—
But, indeed, I think if only I’d a dog or little cat,
When I can’t get girls to play with, I would be content with that.”
How to find a house pet in the woods?  Dan, all of 14 or so, makes up an errand into town, and acquires a mother dog with pups, kittens thrown in for free.  
Finally I found and bought them, shepherd dog with puppies six,
And the man threw in some kittens, full of cunning little tricks.
When my queer load was all ready it was very near to night,
But I hoped I and my cargo would reach home before daylight.
I have to warn you, this IS a poem from 1908, when we still run into some casual cruelties in children's literature.  There are wolves howling and snarling on the trip home, and a bitter storm.  Not all of the animals get there.  (I'm sorry.  Blame the times.)  Dan reaches his cabin just as the horses sink dead from overexertion, and yet...
“I’d one kitten and a puppy in my arms, as through the door
In I staggered, and fell fainting, senseless, on the old oak floor.
Master said his little Nannie had been praying all the day:
‘Bring Dan back to eat Thanksgiving, and, Lord, keep the wolves away.’
One Thanksgiving, eight years later, Nancy, here, became my wife.
That wee kitten and that puppy, rolling round in playful strife,
Are descendants of the ones I brought from town for pets for Nan,
When the wolves so nearly made an end of uncle ‘grandpa’ Dan.”
I guess that's a happy ending?  (sighs)

Please travel safely, Museum friends, and a truly happy Thanksgiving to all the beings in your families!

 -- Banks, E. Dunning. (1908). One Thanksgiving Day out west. New York: E.S. Werner.

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