Nothing New — Feathers and fur: Animal tales from the past

Through the years, newspapers in Grays Harbor have covered innumerable odd, strange and just plain silly stories involving members of the animal kingdom. Here is a handful of tales that were covered by the local press and told in the inimitable writing style of the early correspondents.

(Aberdeen World, April 1, 1927) TABBY LEAPS 30 FEET TO LIBERTY — One of the finest jumps in the history of Aberdeen was made this morning, according to firemen. The jump was made from the top of a 30-foot pole at Michigan and Heron streets. Despite the fact that no net had been spread, the high-diver was uninjured.

Firemen were summoned to the scene early this morning on a mission of succor. A pet tabby, treed, or better perhaps, poled by many antagonistic dogs, had climbed to the cross arm but lacked courage to make the descent. The ladder wagon and crew were elected for the rescue.

A 28-foot ladder was placed against the pole and an intrepid fire fighter commenced his work. Reaching the top of the pole, he reached for the cat, but tabby, not recognizing him as a friend but apparently figuring him in league with the dogs, decided on a more rapid descent. A tense spring, a sudden swish through the air and tabby struck the sidewalk. Apparently never losing a stride, she disappeared at a rate greatly above highway speed limit.

(Aberdeen World, Sept. 10, 1913) BEAR CUBS HAVE A MEAL ON SHEETS — Hoquiam — Because two cub bears invaded the home of Mrs. Lillie Prittinen at 421 Eleventh street yesterday, tore the mattress of a bed to pieces and, it is claimed, actually ate two sheets on the bed, a complaint has been lodged with the police against the owner of the bears, John Geoghegan, and he will be cited to appear in police court.

Geoghegan owns the two cubs and their mother. He has kept the bruins locked up in a woodshed in the rear of the Scandia Hotel on Eleventh Street. The cubs broke out, climbed onto the roof of a woodshed at the rear of the Prittinen abode and then through an open window into the bedroom. When the occupant of the premises entered the apartment she was much startled. The place looked as if a shrapnel shell had been dropped inside and exploded.

She asked damages sufficient to reimburse her for the loss sustained.

(Aberdeen World, Oct. 3, 1910) KITTEN CAUSES TROUBLE — A black and white kitten, which wandered upon the premises of Mrs. Daisy Bodden, 315 West Market street, from the home of Mrs. Tilly Sheets next door was the innocent cause of trouble between the two women and resulted in the arrest of Mrs. Bodden. Mrs. Bodden threw a stone at the cat and Mrs. Sheets, being an eye witness, objected. Then it is said Mrs. Bodden threw a stone at Mrs. Sheets and made a better target of the woman than she did of the cat, for the cat escaped without a scratch, but Mrs. Sheets was not so lucky. The arrest of Mrs. Bodden followed and the case is having a hearing before Justice Phillips this afternoon.

(Aberdeen Bulletin, Nov. 3, 1905) ROUNDED UP IN THE BANK — It took a score of men, a boy and two dogs to catch a poor little bewildered chicken this morning at Heron and G streets and it was only after she was cornered in the Hayes and Hayes bank that the job was accomplished.

It furnished some little fun for a while. The chicken escaped from the boy, who promptly gave chase up Heron street. Nearing the bank the dogs of Cliff Weatherwax and Fred Green gave the “view haloo” a la Chevy chase, and augmented by several loungers, the run was on in earnest. Around and around and back and forth the now thoroughly frightened chicken darted. Spying the doors of the Hayes &Hayes bank open she scurried in with the pursuers close behind. Those in the bank added themselves to the huntsmen. Under the chairs and over desks and railings fluttered the poor dodging chicken but the force of numbers proved too much and she was finally captured and carried off by the boy. (NOTE: The Hayes and Hayes bank was located where Jack In the Box is today.)

(Aberdeen World, May 3, 1926) RIVER RAT CAUSES MOTOR ACCIDENT — A rat was the cause of an auto wreck on the Wishkah Valley Road yesterday. It is usually a bee or a hornet which enters a car and causes the driver to lose his head and also his machine. But this time it was a rat of the river variety that got into the car of Mortimer Ackey, a rancher of the upper Wishkah Valley, and caused a stampede. The rat, which had been attracted by something to eat in the car, was content with its new abode until the car started and it came out of its hiding place and attempted to climb up the steering wheel in an effort to escape. In the excitement of seeing the rodent and to get it out of the car, Ackey, it is said, lost control and went over the river bank. Ackey escaped injury but the car was considerably damaged.

(Aberdeen Herald, May 17, 1900) A freak of nature was discovered Monday in an outhouse in rear of the G.A.R. ball. A motherly hen was found industriously trying to hatch young chickens out of four young kittens, over which she sat as faithfully as if they were eggs, and, when lifted off would fight to get back to her adopted pets.

(Aberdeen World, Jan. 9, 1912) HARE CAUSES NEAR RIOT — Comedy rare and racy in which three members of the local police force and an innocent Belgium hare were the chief participants caused a near riot early yesterday evening on Heron street.

Closely followed by a ragged little urchin, the rabbit which had evidently escaped from a pen in East Aberdeen came bounding down Heron street shortly after dusk last night. Evidently confused by the glare of the electric lights, the little fellow made several attempts to enter business houses along the street. Followed by a crowd of frenzied people, the rabbit made a last desperate effort to seek safety in the Mecca café when surrounded by Officers Morgan, Church and Hook. Detective Church played the hero role and captured the animal.

(Aberdeen Bulletin, April 17, 1905) Jacobs, the shoeman, is authority for the story that an Aberdeen woman while passing his store on G street as the awning was being let down, suddenly dodged from under as if she had been shot. She wore a large hat covered with ostrich feathers which suddenly became very heavy. After going a block it was found necessary to relieve the burden on her head and in taking off the hat a rat jumped out of the trimming. (NOTE: Joseph Jacobs operated the Becker Block Shoe Store at the NE corner of Wishkah and G streets.)

Roy Vataja is the son of Finnish immigrants and frankly would be pretty freaked if a rat fell on his feather-plumed hat.


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