Come here to find stories about the cats that have been part of my life.


The Gladstone Gang

Linda Echo-Hawk
Summer 2005

In January 1975 I entered what I call my Gladstone Phase. This was an important part of my life, not only because of the good friends I made (Richard and Dianne), but because this is where I got Emily, and where Jesse and Rose were born. These cats were an important part of my life for the next 20 years.
I moved to Gladstone, Missouri in January 1975 to live with Billy in the old farmhouse on Northeast 72nd Street. It was on the edge of a large maple forest (“the largest hard maple stand west of the Mississippi,” Dianne once told me), and I had an idyllic life there. Today a Wal-Mart stands where the house used to be, but at least some of the Maple Woods has been protected. At any rate, that place exists only in my memories now, but those memories are sweet.

Stoney & Stella at the Old Farmhouse

Billy had a deep love for animals of all kinds, and having worked as an assistant at a veterinary clinic, he was very knowledgeable. I learned a lot from him. He had an Old English sheepdog, Stoney, and three cats, Nancy, Jerry, and Muffit. His wife, JoAnn, was in the process of filing for divorce, and she wanted Jerry and Muffit, so they went with her shortly after I moved in. We were down to one cat, and Nancy was Billy’s cat. He used to warn me that Nancy only liked him and wouldn’t tolerate anyone else, so I think it surprised him when Nancy liked me. She was a really neat cat, a hunting expert, who would bring little gifts of dead animals to our house. One time after a fight with Billy, I was in the bathtub crying. Nancy pushed open the bathroom door and ran in, jumped on the edge of the tub, and gave me head-butts. She was sweet.
That spring, Billy brought home a kitten for me: Emily, a tiny tortoiseshell kitten. She grew up on the farm and became pregnant. In early 1976, her first litter was born. There were four kittens, two were tabbies (one had a broken tail, and my friend Jan took that kitty), one was yellow (Simon went to Isobel), and one was a giant black kitten, who was much larger than the others. This was Jesse, and I knew immediately that I had to keep him.


Emily and her first litter of kittens


While Emily was pregnant, Nancy underwent an interesting change and began to behave strangely. She was spayed, and I don’t believe she had ever had kittens. She began to raid the dirty clothes hamper, and would carry around dirty socks in her mouth, emitting loud bawling meows. She wanted her own kittens, I think.
After Jesse was a few weeks old, Nancy began to take him aside from the other kittens and spend time with him. I think she had picked Jesse to be “hers.” She helped raise Jesse and taught him to hunt. He was always her favorite.
I believe it was later that summer when Nancy died, although it could have been the following year. One day Nancy didn’t return home. We waited and several days passed. We began to accept that she had probably gotten killed somewhere, and Billy was devastated. Nancy had been his special cat, and he loved her dearly. Not long after, I was talking with our next-door neighbors, and asked if they had seen her. They replied, “You mean that old gray cat?” They said they had found her drowned in their cistern, which they had left the lid off of. I was horrified to think of Nancy’s plight in the cistern, and could not shake the image of her swimming until her strength gave out. I still cry to think of it. Billy’s mom said I probably shouldn’t tell him, since it was such an awful story, but I asked him if he would want to know the truth, no matter how awful, and of course he did. This was a terrible time for him, and we were grateful to have Emily and Jesse for comfort. We also had Stoney and Stella. The story of Stella is for another time.
The following year, Emily had another litter and Rose was in that litter. She was beautiful and everyone wanted her, including me and my brother, Dick. I promised her to Dick, but then I changed my mind and decided to keep her. He was upset with me, but later moved away to go to graduate school, so maybe it was right for Rose to stay with me. I don’t think he ever forgave me for that though.

Jesse with Rose

Rose also grew up on the farm and Jesse and Emily taught her to hunt. I remember one time when they brought a mouse into the bedroom. Billy screamed and jumped up on the bed.
In April 1978, we moved to Boulder, Colorado. Before leaving, we found homes for Stoney and Stella, our two Old English sheepdogs, but we took our cats with us to Colorado. A short time after we arrived in Boulder, Rose had a litter of kittens. We gave them all away, but I didn’t have her spayed because I wanted her to have another litter. I thought that I would want to keep one of her kittens for myself.

Rose and her first litter of kittens


I started working at Beech Aircraft on September 5, 1978, the day after Labor Day. I was an Engineering Clerk in the Engineering Test Department. Also at that time, I moved into the Habitat Apartments in Gunbarrel. It was one of the few apartment complexes that would allow pets.
We had a second floor apartment, and Mama appeared one afternoon on our balcony. I had seen a notice for a lost cat on the bulletin board on the way to the laundry area earlier that day, so I brought her inside and locked her in the bathroom. Then I called the number on the notice, but got no answer for hours. When I finally got an answer, it turned out that Mama was not the missing cat. I put her back outside, but of course, she became a regular visitor on our balcony after that.
After some time, I mentioned to Billy that I thought Mama might have worms, because her stomach seemed swollen. He examined her and told me that she was pregnant. We began feeding her on the balcony and fixed up a box for her. When the kittens were born that fall in the box on our balcony, we brought her and the kittens inside and she officially became our cat. Mama was black, and the kittens all had Siamese markings with little white toes.
When we drove to Kansas City for Christmas, we took one of those kittens for Mom – I picked out the kitten that looked the most like a purebred Siamese. It was a stupid thing to do, because Mom didn’t want Ahab, but she did let us leave him there, and he became a valued member of their household until his death. Dad used to complain about how Ahab would rub against his feet, but I know he liked the affection.


Simon, 1980 (left) and Ahab, 1990 (right)


With a total of four cats now, we were happy to relocate to the cute little house I rented at 1133 Pratt Street in Longmont on March 1, 1979. I brought all four cats over to the new house, and just opened the car door and let them leap out – not a smart move! Rose took off for the cemetery at the end of the street and disappeared. I went down there near dark and called and called for her. I finally found her hiding behind a pile of old lumber and brought her home.
She almost immediately went into heat again and got pregnant. She had this litter of kittens in a box of old clothes in the linen closet. There were three kittens, and one of them was Jaxon. That was a special day in my life!

Liz & Isobel with Rose's second litter (Jaxon on left)


In July 1979, we moved to our house at 410 Judson Street and tried to find homes for the kittens. We didn’t have a telephone so I put an ad in the paper, telling people just to stop by our house. One of the kittens had already been claimed by a friend. A young couple rode their bicycles to our house and claimed a second one, but no one wanted Jaxon. Even I didn’t want a fifth cat, but he was so adorable that I gave in and decided to keep him. I remember Dianne visiting and carrying him around like a little baby. He was irresistible and we called him “little fella.”
About 1980 we adopted a one-year-old Irish Setter named Bo. Jaxon was the only one of our cats who seemed to like Bo. Bo would follow Jaxon around, and if he got too close, Jaxon would turn around and swat at him. Even Bo couldn’t resist Jaxon.
After we got Bo, Emily moved over to our neighbor’s house. Marge was an elderly woman whose husband had recently died and so had her 17-year-old cat, and she was fond of Emily but embarrassed about Emily’s decision to move in with her. I felt like Emily had made her choice and that it was a good one where she would get a lot more attention.

In 1984, Billy and I broke up and in June I took Jesse, Rose, Jaxon and Mama and moved to a little house in Longmont on 15th Avenue. It had a one-half acre yard and for me it was reminiscent of the old farmhouse. It was a good place for the kitties to be safe and for us to begin a new phase of our lives.