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Opinion >  Column

The Slice: Seemed like a good idea at the time

Here’s the story of the great county fair cat scramble.

“Your reference to barn cats reminded me of a barn cat experience in the mid-1950s at the Garfield County Fair in Pomeroy, Wash.,” wrote Erv Koller of Millwood. “Many fairs in that era had ‘scrambles’ for the youngsters. The most popular were the calf, chicken and pig scrambles where the winners were often allowed to take the animal home and raise it as a 4-H project, et cetera. This left out a lot of the city kids with no means of raising a farm animal. One family, that will remain unnamed, decided to change the format to include these youngsters.

“They humanely captured several of their barn cats and donated them to the fair one year. They were transported in a large gunny sack to the middle of the bucking arena. There they were unceremoniously dumped onto the ground for all the kiddies of a younger age group to catch and keep! The youngsters made a run for the spooked cats which were in no mood for petting or capture.

“The first kid to reach them became a launch pad for one buzz saw as it went up his arm, over his back and across the arena followed en masse by the other felines. These cats were done playing nice. They went through the spectator fence, between the legs of those watching, under the grandstands, and up over the steep hill behind the fairgrounds on their way home. Not one of them was captured. That was the first and last time that a cat scramble was attempted at the Garfield County Fair.”

A little-known codicil to the Code of the West addressing snowball fights: “Do not throw snowballs at great-grandmother and mess up her hair,” wrote Bernadette Haddleton.

Hmmm. Wouldn’t anyone aiming high at a great-grandmother be deserving of some frontier justice, meted out with extreme prejudice?

Great moments in Slice history: In January of 1998, The Slice decided to run the names of readers with January birthdays. This was my modest way of acknowledging birthdays that sometimes seemed like an afterthought, coming on the heels of the holidays.

But after three days of filling columns with nothing but names, it became clear that it might have been a well-intentioned idea but the result was about as readable as a page from the phone book. I had to suspend the offer.

Looking back, I should have used box-score size type and printed all the names.

Today’s Slice question: Other than me, who is the last person in the Spokane area to use cash?

Write The Slice at P. O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. The HAL 9000 computer’s birthday is next week.

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