The Reading Room
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
Life, its been...
My office at work has a jade plant, a bamboo-type
Bumper sticker on the car in front of me read, `Life,
plant, a creeping ivy-like broad-leaf plant, a type
it's been a weird trip'. Started me thinking back
of lilly and a Christmas cactus. This amazing bio-
over the past sixty nine years.
diversity is owed to a new species we have in our
Many years ago I met a man. Our conversation was
home! A few months ago, I wrote about the loss of
only a three line exchange. Nevertheless, I've never
our highly adored family cat, Sombra. For some
forgotten him. But, let me begin at the beginning.
time, I felt that it would dishonor her memory to
It was January in Denver, Colorado 1989. Weather
get another cat. I recently relented, though, and
was unseasonably warm that winter. My daughter
my wife and I went to the animal shelter to adopt
was home from college and a Mother-Daughter
excursion was planned. We would take the bus to
It became immediately apparent that a com-
downtown Denver, eat at the tea room and shop
mon issue in shelters is that people adopt kittens
because they're cute and cuddly... and a family
We had an enjoyable day. All we planned to do
can watch the cat grow up for years. This leaves
was accomplished including my time reminisc-
older cats in a bit of a fix (pardon the pun). The
ing over lunch. Sixteenth Street in the 1950's was a
older cats tend to go unnoticed and unadopted.
bustling place. There were no shopping malls then.
Now, if your reason for adopting a kitten is that
My teen-age friends and I would put on our hats
you want to mold your cat after your personality,
and gloves (oh yes) and catch the bus to down-
please consider adopting an older cat. There is NO
town. At that time the elevator in the Daniels &
possible way of accomplishing this on ANY cat.
Fisher Towers had attendants dressed in braided
With few exceptions, cats are largely untrainable...
uniforms with shiny gold buttons asking "what
Books by local authors to check out:
not because they are not intelligent, but because
Go back in time and witness the history of Delta
they are so intelligent, they wish to dispense with
There were three movie theaters with lighted
and the Uncompaghre Valley, through wonder-
the buffoonery in which lower species (including
marquees. It was the Center theater where we saw
ful old photographs from times past. Images of
the famous star Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a hot
America, The Uncompaghre Valley. By Theajo "Tj"
That brings us back around to my situation. At the
tin roof". Woolworths 5 & 10 was the place to go.
Davis & Royal C. "Whitey" Huff Sr. Available at
animal shelter, there were many wonderful cats,
There was a long soda fountain there where we
Amazon.com $17.15, or call Whitey at 970.209.2114.
but one, in particular, endeared herself to both my
girls would sit, drink phosphates talk about fash-
"I had in the past loved learning about the histo-
wife and me. She looked black in the cage (apart-
ions, family and boys.
ries of the places where I lived. I always looked
ment?) but upon further examination, she was
Suddenly, my daughter and I realized the day had
forward to meeting the natives of the area who
really a tabby. Petting her backwards (against the
slipped away the mercury was falling along with
could share their stories with me. As Whitey Huff
grain?) revealed grey stripes beneath the black
the darkness. Walking swiftly to our bus stop on
Sr., my co-author of this book, visited me every
exterior. We picked her up and she buried her
lower Curtis Street we arrived before the bus to
couple of weeks, telling the history of Delta and the
head in our arms and would settle in and become
join other waiting passengers. I was irritated with
Uncompaghre Valley, he brought wonderful old
comfortable. She was also smart... so smart, in fact,
myself for not watching the time closer. Lower
photographs. I looked forward to Whitey's visits.
that we witnessed her reaching over and pulling
Curtis Street was marginally safe in the daytime
As time passed, I suggested we write a book using
the lever to open her neighbor's cage in the shel-
after dark not a safe area at all. The hum of voices
all the wonderful old photographs Whitey and his
ter. Ah, yes, this would be our cat.
flowing around us abruptly ceased and the atmo-
friends and associates owned from times past. With
After initial exploration of our home concluded,
sphere was charged with apprehension. Looking
some encouragement, the 84-year-old Whitey was
the 8-month-old cat, who we would name Mag-
around I saw him striding up the street towards us.
up to the project." - Theajo "Tj" Davis - Acknowl-
dalena (shortened to "Maggie" most of the time),
I could see in the street lights that the man was
edgments - Images of America, The Uncompaghre
showed a propensity to play hard and sleep
tall, well over six feet. The closer he came I saw he
hard (preferably on someone's lap). To assert her
was wearing a well used pea green army jacket and
dominion, she also began tearing up the leaves
scuffed knee high dark laced boots. Immediately,
of my plants and digging up the soil in the pots.
I edged over in front of my daughter all the while
It was cute for about 14 seconds, then IT WAS
casting my eyes down. The old "if I look down he
Have you written something special you wish to
ON! Unfortunately, I had to change my combat
won't see me".
share or do you love to write?
strategy because she would perform her misdeeds
In a matter of seconds his boots came into view
We want to read your words!
while nobody was at home. The last straw came
and stopped toe to toe with mine. I felt everyone
One of our goals at the Sunshine Express is to
when I found my Christmas cactus, which was in
catch their breath including me. Looking up I
promote local artists in every field and literature
full bloom for the first time in two years, had been
noticed he had a battle worn stocking cap on his
is a favorite.
pulled, in its hanger, to the floor and was strung
head. As he looked down at me with his deep set
Send us your letters, stories, poems, columns,
out all over the floor.
dark eyes he said, as he was tugging at a knit scarf
expertise/advice/how-to articles, promotional
Only two house plants remain in my house, now...
around his neck, "Here, lady you look cold. Take
pieces, you name it, and we will read it.
a creeping charlie and my 15-year-old shamrock,
my scarf, it will help warm you."
We will endeavor to publish as many and as
the seed of which was among those brought back
In that instant the bus pulled up and stopped. I
wide a variety of writings as space allows, so
by friends who traveled to Ireland. The rest of my
managed to speak, "Here is our bus but, thank
make sure you send us your best efforts. Uplift-
houseplants are in my office...and the Christmas
you." At that, we all hurriedly boarded the bus.
ing and inspirational pieces are prized treasures.
cactus is undergoing occupational rehab. I can tell
The last I saw of him he was continuing up the
Email with "Words" in the subject line to:
you that if Maggie assaults my shamrock plant,
street to wheresoever.
email@example.com or snail mail to:
we will enjoy tabby-k-bobs soon!
Every year since that time, when the mercury falls
The Sunshine Express, PO Box 267, Norwood,
(No animals have been harmed, yet, in the compo-
and snow drifts down, I think of that man who was
CO 81423. Questions? Call 970.327.4196
sition of this column.)
going to share a part of his warmth with me and I
((Kelly Turner is station manager at KRTZ-FM
pray, "God wherever he is, please keep him warm
Perhaps the bumper sticker should read, `Life, its
been a surprising trip'. --Karen Schafer