Kitty Cat

Steinhoff family cat c 1965I don’t remember where he / she came from, and I must have been away at college when he / she fell between the cracks of memory. To make the account easier, I’m going to arbitrarily classify the feline a female. You can click on the photos to make them larger, but try to ignore the dust specks.

We weren’t really cat people

Steinhoff family cat c 1965

We weren’t really cat people. Dad, in particular, could see a certain utility in a dog, but cats were beneath his radar. Until Kitty Cat came along. To be honest, I’m not even sure that Kitty Cat was her name.

Anyway, shortly after Dad would sit down in his basement recliner to unwind from work and catch a little TV, the kitten would jump up on his lap and it was game on.

Suffered indignities kindly

Steinhoff family cat c 1965The cat figured a little indignity was a decent tradeoff for a warm lap.

She knew who was in charge

Steinhoff family cat c 1965Funny hat or not, Kitty Cat knew who was driving the bus.

True example of coffee can film

Steinhoff family cat c 1965This had to have been one of my famous “coffee can” films, based on the number of dust spots I had to touch up. I must have shot an assignment on the first part of the roll, then banged off these frames and pitched them into the garbage pail under my enlarging table.

I finally decided this shot wasn’t worth spending any more time on. If the white dust specks had been black, I’d have tried to pass them off as fleas.


Sharing with Dad

I’m blessed this Thanksgiving season that I have a great family, including Mother, who turned 91 in October and still has a zest for life.

I never come to Cape without making at least one swing through New Lorimier Cemetery where Dad is buried. One thing I’ve missed over the years is the opportunity to share with him some of the stories I’ve covered and the fascinating people I’ve met. I never went into much detail, but it was nice to know that there was someone out there who wanted to live vicariously through my war stories.

A few trips back, I decided to keep sharing what I’m doing in what might sound like an unusual way. After I shot the train squishing coins on the tracks in Wittenberg, I left a railroad spike and a smashed quarter on his tombstone. The spike is now driven into the dirt at the base of it, and I retrieved the quarter to give to Brother Mark.

The blue tile came from Cairo

This time I left behind a blue piece of tile that used to be the floor of a building in Cairo. If I don’t come up with something more interesting, on my next trip back home I’ll leave some stone slivers I found on the ground at the base of a wall around the Fourche a du Clos Valley Roadside Park near Bloomsdale.

It’s not very conventional, but it works for me. And, I have a pretty good idea that it works for him, too.

In case you were wondering

In case you were wondering what those three objects are in the circles on his stone, Dad was active in Boy Scouting and Order of the Arrow. The carving on the lower left represents the Silver Beaver, “the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it.”

The object on the right is the Order of the Arrow’s Vigil Honor, “the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting.” They meant a great deal to him.

You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Zippo Lighters

Dad was a smoker until he quit cold turkey one New Year’s Eve without telling any of us. We noticed that he was crankier than usual, but he didn’t tell us what he had done for a couple of weeks, “in case I couldn’t do it,” he said later.

One day he came home with a handful of these Zippos with his company logo on them. As a non-smoker and as an appreciator of something special, I never put lighter fluid in mine nor did I ever spin the flint. I don’t recall him carrying one of these special editions.

Zippo lighters worked

I remember well the Zippo lighter he DID carry. There was something simple and satisfying about this simple, but foolproof device. There was the “click” it made when you opened it, and the “clunk” it made when it was closed. Because of the nearly windproof chimney, it was almost impossible to blow the flame out; the proper way to put it out was to close the top, starving the flame of oxygen.

You filled it by putting lighter fluid on cotton batting inside the base. Dad always carried a couple of spare flints back there.

Zip!…It’s Lit!

One spin of the flint stiking was all it generally took to light. I’ll never forget the slight smell of ozone that came from the flint and the smell of the lighter fluid. Looking at the instruction sheet brought back the memory of those zebra-striped Zippo fluid cans. I’m going to have to look under the basement stairs to see if any of the old cans are still there. The fluid, I’m sure, has long since evaporated, but it would be neat to see a can again.

They weren’t kidding about the life-time warranty, either. Something happened to Dad’s lighter – maybe it was the cam on the left that kept the lid securely open or closed that broke – anyway, he sent it in and they replaced the guts of the lighter and returned it with the original case. (You might have to click on the pictures to get the instruction sheets big enough to read.)

Personalize your Zippo

I’m pretty sure Dad’s everyday Zippo was plain, but you COULD personalize it for as little as a buck. I don’t have any idea what the Steinhoff, Kirkwood & Joiner cases cost, or if they might have been a Zippo promotion to encourage him to buy more.

Dad tried some other lighters. I think Ronson made one that had a rounded case. It didn’t work like a Zippo, though, so it didn’t get carried long.

Guys got really attached to their Zippos. That’s hard to believe in this day of throwaway butane jobs (that don’t work as reliably as a Zippo).

Zippo Rule

At the same time he got the SK&J lighter, he got a Zippo Rule with the same logo on it. It looks like a lighter, but the case contains a tape measure.

Brother David’s Birthday

I promised to have more and better photos this year than I did last year on Brother David’s birthday, but I had forgotten how quickly the pages on the calendar turn. This is the best I could do. Maybe next year.

The first shot shows David and Diane with their rental trailer. I’m guessing this is when they moved to Tulsa.

This is why they have girls

This double exposure showing David and Diane with their trailer also exposes Son Matt. I’m not sure, but I think this experience may be why the couple had girl children and their daughter, Kim, has girls.

Lined up at the trailer

Here we all are lined up in front of the travel trailer my folks bought to keep over at Wil-Vera Village on Kentucky Lake. The quarters were a bit tight. Wife Lila (who took the picture) was happy when Dad traded it off for a full-blown mobile home not long after this photo was taken. David and Mark are both sporting full heads of hair. I’m in that awkward transitional comb-over stage before becoming good-looking like Dad.

Love the details

Let’s see, David’s shoe is untied. Mark is tired out from carrying his hammer around looking for something to hit. The tricycle has a load of animal crackers on the rear deck. Note the red reflector tape on the trike. Dad bought it by the mile in widths from one inch to four inches and in white and red. I still have some kicking around. As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

So, Happy Birthday, Brother. I hope it’s a good one.

More David Stories

If you go to last year’s birthday, I have a link to a bunch of stories about my middle brother. Not on that list is David as a clown. A play clown.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.