I was seven years old. The year was 1963. I had come into my own, because I had been deemed responsible enough to take care of two young fighting roosters and one all white bunny rabbit. I took my responsibilities to these of God’s creatures very seriously. However, unfortunately, my parents did not share the same concern I had for the well being of these three. I will tell you what I mean.
The fighting roosters were a gift from my Grandfather. He raised, trained, and fought roosters, which were kept in chicken coops in his backyard. The one rule he had drilled into me at a young age was to stay clear of these chicken coops that housed his mean fighting roosters, and for some reason I listened and heeded his advice in this case.
On this one particular trip to Lubbock, Texas to visit my Grandparents my Grandfather offered two of his finest young roosters to me and surprisingly my Father agreed to let me take them home. So we allocated a cardboard box, poked holes in it, and drove back to Waco, Texas with my new very young roosters in tow.
Upon our arrival home, I immediately set up house for them in our garage, as it was the cold time of the year. I watered, cared, fed, and cleaned up after them everyday. During the first month I had them, they had grown considerably and were starting to get some color in their feathers. I would let them roam the backyard only under my supervision and lock them away in the garage the rest of the time. I did not have a chicken coop. Yep on my block I was the only kid who was a proud owner of two fighting roosters.
Then a neighbor offered to give me a beautiful full-grown white bunny rabbit. Having been so responsible for my roosters’ care, my Parents agreed to let me have this rabbit as well. It came with its own cage, which I placed out back under the peach tree. I took very good care of the rabbit. I would only let the rabbit out to hop around under my strict supervision, just like I did with my roosters. Everything was just peachy king!
One evening while watching the news on our black and white TV set, the weatherman called for snow during the night. This concerned me, so I asked my parents if I could put the bunny and his cage in the garage for the night. The answer was no! Instead, the car was going into the garage for the night. So, I commandeered an old blanket without my Mother knowing, and placed it in the cage to help keep my rabbit warm. I was still worried that the blanket may not be enough to keep my bunny safe from the cold. However, I was grateful knowing my roosters were in the garage. I reasoned with myself that the rabbit had a nice furry coat, and with the blanket he should be ok.
After a night of worry, and little sleep, I woke and looked out my bedroom window. A deep snow covered the backyard, and ice cycles dangled from the peach tree and power lines. The weatherman had been right! I find this amusing as I write this story, because I think now of how few times the weathermen are right these days. I mean if you think about it, what other job can you be wrong so often and still keep your job?
After throwing my coat and shoes on over my pajamas, I hurried outside to check on my rabbit. He was not moving. I was struggling to get the frozen gate latch on the cage open. I ran into the garage to retrieve a hammer to knock the ice off the latch. Finally, I was able to open the gate. Then I discovered not only was my bunny frozen stiff, so was the blanket. I immediately started sobbing blaming myself, that I had not been more insistent with my Parents. Then I rationalized, if I had just let him out of his cage, he may have been better able to keep warm on his own, instead of confined to freeze to death. He could have hopped around to stay warm.
Then sitting there in the snow, I looked over at the backyard garage door. It dawned on me that when I went to get the hammer, the door was open. I had entered the backyard through the patio door, so that meant the garage door had been opened all night. I stood up and ran back to the garage. Upon entering, I could not find my roosters anywhere.
I walked back out into the backyard snow looking for rooster tracks. There were none, but I did see some other kind of tracks. I followed them to our next-door neighbor’s yard and looked through the chain link fence. There were rooster feathers everywhere! The neighbor’s cat had gotten to my roosters. Jumping the fence I went to investigate further. The conclusion, the cat had eaten both of my roosters.
So, I headed back into the garage to put the hammer away, and went back into the house. As it turned out the garage door was left open. It could have been my sister, or one of my parents. All I know, is it was not me. The rest of the family was still asleep when I returned to my room and climbed back into bed. What a morning this had turned out to be! And they say kids aren’t responsible!
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