The Great Gink

I just wanted to share with you, the story of our legendary stray cat Gink, who was my favorite cat of all the cats we had as a children.

One Saturday afternoon in 1971, when I was 10, my father, mother and I went grocery shopping in the old Grand Union Supermarket in Endicott. As we came out of the store, a storm had come about and it was raining very heavily.

I noticed a small black kitten zipping about in the parking lot, looking for a place to stay dry.

“Dad, there’s a poor kitten out there!” I said, and my heart immediately went out to this helpless, shelterless feline.

We looked around the parking lot for it as we rolled the cart out to our olive green Country Squire station wagon but to no avail. As Mom and Dad loaded up the groceries, I kept watch from the back seat, but no kitten anywhere.

Then as we pulled out of the lot, and turned up toward Main Street, we kept hearing a small “Meow! Meow!” Mom couldn’t hear it, but Dad and I did. So much so that when we stopped at the first red light, Dad got out of the car and looked under the hood, but saw nothing there. We kept hearing it all the way up Main Street, heading west toward home, about a half mile total distance. When we pulled into the driveway, and out from UNDER the car scoots that soggy little homeless kitten — straight under the back porch!

As far as we could tell, the little guy must have ridden on the axle all the way home! I named him “Gink” after the black cat from one of my favorite stories, “Dory’s Magic”

It always amazed me that of all the cars he could have taken shelter under he chose OURS!

Although Gink was a ‘black’ cat, you can see that when he was outside, his fluffy fur was more of reddish brown. He wasn’t always friendly at first, but he really mellowed with age in the love he received all around. When he was in the mood, would let you rub his tummy (he liked flopping on his back to sleep in on the living room rug). I loved the magnificent ruff of fur on his chest. and he used to sit tall on the banister at the top of the stairs, awaiting all who would scratch him under his chin, which he reveled in. As you scratched, he’d point his chin high and close his eyes in pure delight.

From that first day on, Gink lived a charmed life in our family home until his passing in 1986. One reason we think he lived so long was that at one time,while he was still young, Gink had followed Mom into the pantry as she went to get something out of the big freezer we used to have. Well, several HOURS later, someone said “Has anybody seen Gink?” And Mom remembered that the last time she had seen him was…. Uh Oh! She rushed to the freezer, and there several shelves down was Gink, cold, but not frozen, curled up on a shelf, probably wondering what the heck happened! (I like to think he was in suspended animation) The shelf was empty, except for a box of baking soda that he had knocked over, white soda all over his black fur! It must have been enough of an air pocket, for he recovered well, and never held it against us!

I’ll never forget Gink. As I left home for a six month trip in late ’86, I held Gink for a long time before I left. I felt it might be the last time I saw him, and sadly, I was right. A month later, Mom called me to let me know he was gone. He was buried in the back yard under the lilac bush. So appropriate, since he loved being outside, soaking up the sun.

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