Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Earl Cecil and the Magpie

 Our family moved from Nebraska to Canon City, Colorado the day before my fifth birthday.  Dad was the new pastor of the little church, not yet built, on the corner of Seventh and Floral.  The King family lived on the south edge of town, on the other side of the Arkansas River.  This family attended our church.  They had two teenage daughters, a son, Earl Cecil, about my age, and a younger daughter.  A friendship developed between us boys to the extent that for the most part we saw each other on Sundays as we attended different schools and our homes were not quite within walking distance of each other.

The Kings kept and raised a few hogs and at butchering time Dad would assist Mr. King with the chore of turning the pigs into meat.  This provided an additional opportunity for playtime with Earl Cecil.  To the best of my memory I never heard anyone call this child anything other than Earl Cecil.  It was almost as if it were one name, Earlcecil.  But back to the story.  When we were probably about eight or nine years of age, Earl Cecil and I, that is, the Kings moved to Las Animas.

Then Virginia and Marilyn, now young women, decided that marriage represented the life for them and as good fortune would have it each found the man of her dreams at about the same time and I suppose courtships ensued.  The girls decided a double wedding would be the ticket and they asked my parent to perform the ceremony.  The appointed day arrived and our family made the trip to Las Animas.  It would possibly be a bit understated if I were to say that Earl Cecil and I were less than excited about the wedding and all the attendant folderol, but we were delighted to have the opportunity to catch up and spend time with each other simply horsing around and doing stuff that nine year old boys do.
Image result for magpie

And Earl Cecil had a magpie!  His very own personal pet magpie.  He had been told, and he told me, that were a magpie to be captured about the time it fledged one could clip a tendon or some such thing under the bird's tongue and the bird could be taught to talk.  Which is exactly what the kid did, for on his farm there was no scarcity of magpies.

Could the birdie talk?  Indeed it could.  "Hello."  "Dirty bird."  And probably not much more.  I do not recall exactly but I think its vocabulary was limited.

But of course I envied my friend and always wanted my own magpie, a desire which so far has not been fulfilled.

It is said that the magpie is the brightest of birds and the most intelligent of all the animals.  I have read stories of magpies calling the family dog by name and waiting for the beast to come to it.  Anyway. . .

Stat feed tells me that this is post number 2500 on String Too Short to Tie.


Jim Grey said...

Either Earl or Cecil is enough of a name...but when you put them together, they're impossible to forget.

vanilla said...

Jim, you know how when Mom got really frustrated with you she called you by first and middle names? I figure Earl Cecil's mom was in a constant state of frustration with her offspring, so she always called him thus, and everyone hearing it so much adopted it, too. (One did not want to have to respond to a mother when she used all three of your names.)

Grace said...

Oh yes, the name thing - from one to two to three. And in our house it went further with 3 languages - English, to be ignored. Italian, one should be be a bit more alert, Yiddish - run for your life.

Magpies are part of the crow family and as such are quite the clever little creatures.

vanilla said...

Grace, oh, my. English was quite enough for me. Of course you did have the added clues as to how deeply you were into it.

Lin said...

Poor kid. Imagine going through life with that name! I wonder if he kept the full name his entire life?

vanilla said...

Lin, wish I knew. Not sure I ever saw him again after the wedding weekend.

Vee said...

Remember the family, a faded memory, though.

Magpies are really beautiful. We had them around our condo in Colorado.

vanilla said...

Lin, thanks to my sister's research I found that Earl Cecil went through his adult life as Cecil. He established and operated a tractor sales company. I called a bit late, though, for I find that he passed away a couple years ago but his business continues.

Vee, we don't have magpies around here, but their near-cousins, crows, are abundant.