Bernard A. Drew | Our Berkshires: Doris saved the day, uh, the cat | Chroniclers


It’s not so much in the news these days, but local police, firefighters and others over the years have often been called in to retrieve cats from high tree branches and other situations. doubtful.

Some examples.

In May 1902, WH Ripley, of Brooklyn Street in North Adams, spotted a cat hanging from a branch atop a 70-foot pine tree, afraid to descend. It was six days ago. A neighbor suggested sending a policeman to shoot him down, but the dismayed Ripley eventually climbed the tree himself and saved the starving kitten.

In March 1912 Pittsfield Police Officer John Hines dutifully led a wanderer to the police station. “He bought some milk for the cat and after the animal warmed up he gave it a soft and pleasant place to sleep on Officer Baston’s desk,” the Berkshire Evening Eagle reported. “The latter came in and was amazed to find a cat on his desk and since he thought it wasn’t a place for a cat, he took it to the tramp room where all the other wrecks go. The cat didn’t seem to care because he fell asleep happy like a lark.

It took a little creativity to pull a moggy off a tree branch on North Street in North Adams in March 1929. Firefighters William Murphy and WE Dalmaso used a ladder and rope to reach the abandoned animal, the dropping 40 feet into an improvised net held by two other firefighters.

Great Barrington resident Ernest Smith’s family cat wasn’t just curious about climbing a tree. When he climbed a ladder to retrieve her, in 1935, Smith discovered that she had given birth to a kitten.

In December 1941, the Dalton Volunteer Fire Department responded to its first call with an all-new hook-and-ladder truck – to save a cat perched uncomfortably high in a tree.

In May 1952, a cat had to be shot from the top of an electric pole at the corner of Fairgrounds Avenue and Walden Street in North Adams.

In October 1958, an Adams Highways Department employee answered a phone call from a Jordan Street resident and pulled out a cat trapped in 4 inches of water in a dumping basin.

It was a calm New Year in 1961 with rescuers from North Adams responding to a small roaring fire, a false alarm, and a cat stranded in a tree on Windom Terrace.

Not all rescue efforts are successful. In June 1958, members of the Alert Hose Company in Adams attempted to catch a cat in the channel of the Hoosac River near Spring Street. But every time someone approached, the feline retreated into a pipe.

In January 1962, it took two fire crews to free a cat from a tree on Franklin Street in North Adams. An emergency response truck did not have a ladder long enough, so the aerial ladder truck had to be brought in. [Leo] Lefaver came home without promising that he would not climb any more, ”said The Transcript.

A happy ending to an episode in May 1964, when North Adams firefighters, after smothering a rooftop fire and a few other minor fires, got wind of an Angora cat in a tree on Massachusetts Avenue. When the rescuer reached out, The Transcript said: “The cat wrapped affectionately around his outstretched palm, purred contentedly, then perched precariously on his shoulder as he was slowly introduced. in the street.”

The animators sometimes helped to retrieve the cats. Phyllis Gilmore, a stage actress who performed regularly with the Empire Players at the Empire Theater in North Adams, in October 1912, became distraught when one of the guesthouse’s regulars – a feline – could not be found . She sounded the alarm to the management of New American House.

“Joseph Barnard turned out to be the luckiest of all researchers,” said The Eagle, “because after hunting around the area for two or three hours, a kitten’s loud ‘meow’ brought him on. the roof over the livery of the decks. Looking into a brick chimney hole, Barnard saw two fiery eyes staring at him. A rope was used and with great difficulty Barnard was able to descend into the chimney halfway. -path and draw the cat.

Film actress Doris Day was visiting North Adams with her husband, agent (and North Adams native) Matthew Melcher, and their son, Terry – staying with his sister and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Melcher of Marion Avenue. Day’s latest film, “Pajama Game”, had just been released at Radio City Music Hall. Many people recognized her when she ventured downtown to do a bit of shopping and visited the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

“Almost midnight last night,” reported the North Adams Transcript on September 17, 1957, “she [Day] expressed a desire for some fresh air and exercise, and went for a walk along West Main Street. During the walk, she heard the meow of a cat in a tree and joined the Melchers in coaxing the cat. She quickly picked it up and brought it to the Mecher house where the cat was treated with a large bowl of milk. The cat was still there this morning.

This was Day’s second stay at North Adams; she was in town in April 1953, basking in the release of “Calamity Jane”.

Either way, despite the old saying, curiosity hasn’t always killed the cat.

Bernard A. Drew is a regular contributor to Eagle.


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