Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Ordeal at the Bastille

When we last heard from our heroes, they were investigating a sound of distress in the Courtyard Square in Hanford, CA.

After passing the steps on the northern entrance to the Old Courthouse and greeting a person on a cell call, we heard the high-pitched squeal of an animal in distress. We headed toward the source—a wire enclosure behind the building next door. The “cage” seemed to be a storage area of some type (left, photographed later in the day). In it were four plastic stack chairs—and a tiny kitten with one paw caught between two of the chairs, helplessly hanging by that paw, unable to free itself.

We later learned that the building was the former Kings County Jail (1898-1964) and, most recently, a restaurant named the Bastille.

The cage door was padlocked; the cage was too tall to climb over. There was enough space between the building’s exterior wall and the cage’s frame only for a small animal to pass through.

Kate grabbed a bamboo pole and tried to pry the chairs apart; however, she could not get the right angle from the space by the door’s hinge and the chairs.

I went back to ask the person on the court house steps to call for assistance. She contacted a maintenance man who had a key to the cage, and we were able to free the kitten.

When he put the kitten on the ground, the little guy could not put any weight on its right front paw. He took two steps, but appeared almost to “walk” on its shoulder. I quickly picked him up.

“I’ll take it to the SPCA,” the rescuer stated, noting that he had several cats himself.

“No, we’ll take it to a vet,” we quickly countered, without even consulting each other. “Is there a veterinary hospital near here?” We knew then that we would have another traveler with us.

Fortunately, very fortunately, we were introduced to Dr. Lee Faucett and the Hanford Veterinary Hospital. We learned that this adventurous kitten weighed one pound, was about four weeks old and had an eye infection, respiratory problems, and fleas. Dr. Faucett asked us to return in a couple of hours after they had given the little guy a bath and assessed the seriousness of the problems.

We left Dr. Fausett’s office—our new kitten as yet un-named and its future health status unknown. But we had the feeling that this little guy was a fighter and was going to be all right.

Now, if truth be known, one of our reasons for wandering around downtown Hanford was to kill time until lunch. For lunch was to be at the Superior Dairy. Our objective was not food per se; web reviews all confirmed that one goes to the Superior Dairy, a classic 1920s ice cream parlor, for ice cream and not to partake from their very limited list of sandwiches. So we practiced: “Well, yes, I did have some ice cream, but I had a really healthy sandwich first.”

Do you know the story of White Castle hamburger outlets? That the white d├ęcor was meant to convey a sanitary image that would be acceptable to women customers? Well, I got the same impression when entering Superior Dairy. Unrelenting white. Clean white. Stark white. With a hint of the palest of pinks.

Did I say that the sandwich list was limited? Among the choices were tuna salad, egg salad, ham and cheese – your basic lunch box sandwiches. We each decided to start with an egg salad sandwich, but I pulled out all the stops and paid the extra fifty cents to have mine on a toasted roll with lettuce and tomato.

Chuck’s came on sourdough bread. Pretty bland egg salad. Could have used salt and pepper, but none was to be seen anywhere on the premises. Sandwiches eaten. Time for dessert.

We discussed the banana split, but decided on the four scoop sampler with strawberry freeze ice cream, peach ice cream, lemon sherbet, and vanilla ice cream. Now when I see the word scoop, I think your ice cream cone size scoop. What arrived at our table was a tower of ice cream at least a man’s hand tall and topped with whipped cream and served with a small cup of chopped walnuts and a larger cup of wonderful hot fudge. I took one look at Chuck and said “We’ll never be able to eat all of this!!!”

It was the bright intense colors that first drew our attention. Never have I seen a lemon sherbet so yellow or a strawberry ice cream so red. We began to eat. The flavors were as intense as the colors. Essence of fresh picked strawberries. Essence of fresh picked peaches. Essence of fresh squeezed lemons.

While the flavors were magnificent, the ice cream lacked the richness that I’d expect from a premium ice cream. It wasn’t as creamy as a premium ice cream. It didn’t have the “mouth feel” of a premium ice cream.

By the way, we did finish it all.

And . . . , when we left, Mr. Kitten had his name.

Since he had been through quite an ordeal at the Bastille, we decided to name him . . . O.R. Deal.

Dr. Faucett’s up-date was encouraging. He gave us medication for the eye and respiratory infections. While the kitten’s paw’s status remained unclear, he recommended that we return in a week to see if there was any permanent nerve or muscle damage.

Well, it's been about 10 days since our paths crossed. A follow-up visit to a vet in Perris, CA, that my cousin Sandra recommended (but we're getting ahead of our travels) revealed continued improvement in the use of the injured paw. Addie has taken on the role of mother/mentor, which has surprised us, given her disposition.

O.R. now weights 1.6 pounds, is racing around the RV, is a voracious eater, and seems to be putting more and more weight on its foot.

We believe he'll be around for quite a while.


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mcraywood said...

Kudos to both of you Kate and Chuck! You are HEROES to have shown compassion to lucky little "O.R.Deal." With the limited living space of an RV you two still chose to share your home and lives with an injured, helpless creature rather than take - what most would have done - the easy way of depositing him at a shelter. Your reading public bows to you and applauds you!
Please keep us informed as to his progress. Happy trails and bless you both! Mary in Wycombe