Let me tell you how my brother Eddie got his first dog. It’s one of the stories I tell my grandchildren.
One Saturday while we were living on Polk Street in 1925 or so, my mother called Ed, who was about ten, and said, “Eddie, get your little wagon and go to the bakery shop. And Jo, you’d better go with him.”
Ed had a little red wagon with a handle on it. So he and I went to the store at the Ward’s bakery factory down near Washtenaw Avenue. What we were buying was five dozen hard rolls at a penny apiece. So we got 60 rolls for 60 cents, and that would do us for the weekend. We came out with two paper bags filled with these rolls. Maybe I was 11 and he was 8.
Anyways, what appears is a little brown dog. We decided that he looked very hungry, so we gave him a piece of a roll. And then we gave him another piece. Then we walked another block–and he was right behind us, so we gave him some more. When we got home we took the rolls in and put them on the table, and my mother said, “Thank you. That was a great job.” Then she looked out in the backyard and she said, “Where’d that dog come from?”
We said, “He followed us from the bakery.”
She said, “Ed, that’s a very nice dog, and he belongs to somebody. Now you take him right back to where you found him and leave him there.”
So Ed went back with the dog, but the dog wouldn’t leave Ed. The dog came back with him. Ed said, “He keeps chasing me. I can’t…”
So it got late that night, and it was kind of cold out. So ma said, “Well, bring the dog in. He must be starved.” She put a little rug at the door, and she said, “He can sleep there, and I’ll give him something to eat.”
In the morning she put him out and opened the gate and said, “Now go where you belong.”
Well, he ran around the yard all day while we were at school, and when we came home he was still there.
That night, ma’s feeling sorry for the dog again, so she calls him in and she feeds him. So after doing this three or four nights, well, you know, the dog’s never going to go.
So she got very desperate. After we went to school the next day she took the dog and she got on the Harrison streetcar and stood on the platform in back. The conductor said it was OK as long as the dog didn’t bite anyone.
So ma went to visit a friend who lived near the bakery. She left the dog on the street and told him to go find himself another spot, “‘Cause I’m through.”
So she and her friend had a nice afternoon, and when she left and got downstairs there was no sign of the dog at all. So she left and rode the streetcar down to Sacramento and walked home. She walked into the kitchen and put the kettle on. She looked out the window, and what do you think she saw in the backyard? The little brown dog.
Anyway, the landlady came downstairs, and my mother explained what had happened.
“Well, don’t the children like the dog?”
“The children love the dog.”
“Then why do you want to get rid of it?”
“Well, because I didn’t think you wanted a dog in the building.”
“It’s perfectly all right with me,” the landlady said.
And that’s how Ed got his first dog, Brownie.
We had Brownie for quite a long time, and then on the day that Margaret Fitzgerald, age seven, was buried, the dog disappeared.
Rosemarie was a pallbearer, and ma wanted to go to the funeral mass. So she let Brownie out the back door, and she said, “I won’t be here when you come back, but you can wait for me.” She told us, “He kind of smiled at me, and off he went.”
And we never saw him again. That’s how she told it–“He kind of smiled at me.”
We said, “You know, ma, dogs don’t smile.”
She said, “This one did. He knew where he was going.”
Margaret Fitzgerald–they lived in back of us. She had heart trouble. The pallbearers were all her little friends, dressed in their First Communion dresses.