You won’t be surprised to know that when I was growing up in Queensborough many years ago, everybody knew everybody else. That is especially not surprising because Queensborough is so small. (Today it is smaller still, and by and large everybody still knows everybody else – though I think maybe a little less so than in the old days, something I attribute to the fact that our two general stores are no longer with us. It’s harder to get to know people who live in the area but work and buy their groceries and stuff in some larger centre. Whereas when everyone congregated at the general stores back in the days of in my childhood – for groceries, gas and most especially gossip – you really got to know everybody.)
Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before, not only did we all know each other, we also tended to know each other’s pets – their names, their habits, their personalities. “Oh, there’s (Allan Ramsay‘s big old dog) Jim – well, he’ll be heading back to the store (Bobbie’s store; Bobbie and Allan were eventually married, and that great story is here) for a nap.” (Napping was one of Jim’s favourite things, right over the heat register in the store. I can still hear Bobbie’s voice telling him forcefully, when she thought he should be napping rather than chatting with her customers, “Go lay down!”) Anyway, like that. And such pet knowledge really is the stuff of a small-town (actually small-hamlet) childhood, isn’t it?
Even today, though, in this rather less sociable world we live in (thanks to TV and the internet), Raymond and I aren’t doing too badly when it comes to picking up the names of the local dogs and cats. I haven’t yet learned the name of this friendly dog who came by for a visit and a nap in the shade of our mailbox one day…
… but I do know Princess, and Abby, and Rainman, and Oliver, and Fozzie, and Lin-Lin, and Roady, and Chester, and Leroy, and Mother, and Smokey. And sooner or later I’ll figure out the name of that skinny orange cat I keep seeing, the one who hangs out with his lookalike, Roady.
I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of living in a place where the local dogs and cats are, like the local people, your friends and neighbours.