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The Personal Histories


Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride




Brownie is the first pet I remember: a little brown Pomeranian with a few white spots. He arrived in our lives by way of my Dad's suite pocket.When he came home from work that day, he pulled him out and handed him to my little brother Rodney. He became a spoiled, fluffy, curl-tailed, and at times, a fiery feisty pooch. He grew up with all of us and lived for seventeen years. Spoiled rotten, he knew how to talk back to us in his own ways, he let us know things like, raw meat wouldn't do; it had to be cooked, and he wanted his carrots cooked too.


When he grew to be an "old man," he would go with Dad down to our store. Once there, he would jump up into the display window, curl up and watch every person that walked by. Each time Mr. Chandler passed, Brownie would jump down out of the window and tear out of the door after him. He would run yipping and yapping all the while nipping at the man's heals, pestering him as best he could. When the man walked by the home, somehow, Brownie always knew it and started growling and barking long before Chandler came into view. If he managed somehow to get out, after him he'd go. Mr. Chandler, once took a stick to Brownie, and we knew Brownie deserved it.We never blamed the man for it, but Brownie treated him as his worst enemy for the rest of his days.


At about nine years of age, I went to visit the Bruce McKellers who lived out at Cactus Flats, south of Safford where there are many artesian springs and pools. It's now known as the community of Artesia. These good people had little money, but were wonderful friends.


I especially remember the team of horses being hooked up to their flat-bed wagon and loaded with one big barrel and many milk cans to go get their household water from an artesian well about a half-mile away. The mother, Millicent, spread out a big denim carpet over a mat of loose hay on the back part of the wagon to make it a more comfortable trip for us. It was such fun for their three children and me. Pulled along by the horse in the cool of the early evening; we played, chatted and sang on the way over and all the way back.


On the day before my parents came to take me home, we went to the neighboring house of the Ed Richardson family. (He later became one of my school teachers.) I had such fun at the Richardson place. Around a pond, close to the front of their house, we would see, it seemed to me, nearly every kind of animal and bird imaginable. Anyway, to finally get to the real story, they had a mother cat with a large litter of kittens.            They were at that point in their young lives of the beginning of their real playful stage. They were the cutest things. They said I could choose one for my very own. The father had said he would have to drown them because they had too many cats around already. I chose the little kitten I wanted. She had short hair and was splotched calico in color.  She was the ugliest little thing, yet the cutest; with mixed emotions I felt sorry for her. When she grew up, she was still ugly, but we all loved her.


I knew if I waited to ask my parent's permission to have the kitten they would say no. So, I picked it up and held it to me, petting and playing with it as we returned to the McKeller's home. When Mama and Dad arrived and discovered my intentions, they nearly had a fit, but they relented, and I took "Pattypaw" home.  She had to be the dearest thing that ever lived. Later, during a time of reflection, Mama would say, "I hope in the next life we can have Brownie and Pattypaw with us." Through the years we kept her, she mothered many batches of kittens. At one time I had seventeen cats; some were inside cats and some were the outside cats. (A photo of "Pattypaw" the Calico cat can be seen here, outside the door of the McBride home next to the canal in Thatcher.)


After we married, Mac was just a toddler, Darvil decided Mac needed to have a dog. He brought home a nice puppy; too big and rambunctious though, time after time hed bump our little one knocking him down. We gave him away fearing he might injure Mac.


Virgil, my elder brother and his wife, Toots, were moving their family to California. They had a medium sized black and white dog named Darby. Sally Jo was still less than a year old, Jon approaching three, and Mac nearly four at the time. When Darvil found that Virgil couldn't take Darby with them, he told them that we wanted him. As our kids grew older, they so loved that gentle dog. He would come up to Sally Jo, sniff and lick her in the face, and she would love him, and he followed the two boys around as they peddled the big tricycle and the little red fire-truck. Wherever they went running, he stayed right along side. I think Darby thought himself just one of the boys.


Darvil finished building our house in Solomonville. He needed to haul in a few loads of sand for the low driveway that flooded when it rained. The first load was left piled there where it was dumped while he went for another. The sand pile was new, and of course, unknown to Darby. As usual, he greeted the return of the car by running along close in front of it, all the time looking back at us as we drove on in. Paying attention only to us, he hit the pile of sand and all four legs went out from under him. Before he could recover, the car rolled over him mushing him into the soft stuff. I had yelled at Darvil to watch out, but he just kept on going thinking the dog would move. Well Darby yelped a couple of times, and I thought hed been killed, but he came out of the ordeal with the usual smile on his face. I was so mad at Darvil I could have beaten him. About two years later, we moved our family to California and had to give good, old Darby to a friend.


After our kids were married and gone, I would have loved some pets and would have had more, but it always tore at my heart so, to see them injured, killed, die or have to be given away.


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