He moved on to toilet paper rolls, Hiding behind doors and attacking—all regular kitten type escapades.
By four months of age, he had graduated to hanging around with a neighbor’s Siamese, Hunter. The Siamese took the raw clay that was my kitten and shaped him into a small, fierce devil cat. By six months Hunter, Clancy, and a cat named Buzzsaw were bosses in the neighborhood. My sweet kitten was turning into a Canadian Mafioso on the streets of Ottawa.
In late November, I had to leave Canada to return to the states. Clancy was going to hitch with me back to a new home in Boston. The only thing I had to carry him in was a reinforced wicker picnic basket that I heavily lined with duffle (heavy wool felt). The first leg of my trip was by rail to Montreal. Clancy yowled until he was allowed to out of the case. From my lap, he finessed his way onto the lap of the cat-loving woman across the aisle.
The cat-loving woman browbeat her unhappy husband into giving us a ride out of Montreal and got us started towards the border. It went downhill from there. The weather deteriorated, and we walked more miles than we rode. We must have looked pretty disreputable- a skinny Folkie with a pack on his back, guitar in one hand, and a wicker picnic basket. People slowed down, swerved to look, and kept on driving. The circus lasted until past noon.
Around then came a speeding car. It swerved, looked at us, and then rapidly backed up. “Where you headed?” “Boston” “We’re headed to Norfolk, hop in, and we’ll take you as far as we can.” ” You guys, Navy?” “Yup, you?” ” Up to a year ago.” and off we roared.
Coincidence is a funny thing. We’d all served on the same ship and in the same squadron but at different times. A fast bond of being shipmates fell into place as we reviewed chief petty officers, infamous people we knew, and what we knew of the Squadron Racket (duty-free smokes smuggled in top-secret sea chests). Clancy felt right at home with the band of rascals. Then we got to the border.
Canadian customs officers asked a few routine questions, told Clancy how handsome he was, and waved us through. The United States side was a different sort of experience. We unloaded the car. They dug through the seabags, loosened the strings on my guitar, and attempted to probe it. All of this accompanied by snarling epithets and rudeness. My shipmates repacked their stuff while the agents decided that they did not want to dig through the week of dirty laundry in my pack.
Then the attention of goon number one shifted to the wicker basket. “Whata we have here?” ” A cat.” ” sure, looks like a picnic basket stuffed with wine to me.” He bent over and began to pry up a corner of the basket. He then attempted to stuff his hand in – “Please don’t do that. You’ll regret it.” He snarled at me to imply that I was the one who was going to have the regrets. Have I mentioned that Clancy had invented a new game on this trip? I stick my hand into the basket, and he bites it to show just how unhappy he was. No? Well, Mister customs agent got a major surprise.
Now my shipmates, being wise seaman, had already packed my guitar, pack, and the seabags into the car. As goon number one began howling and screaming for us to “Get the F<<k Outta here!!!!” goon number two was looking for the first aid kit. I picked up the basket and ran for the car. I had little time to check on Clancy but noted that he was fastidiously licking the blood off his claws.
We left skid marks getting out of there and didn’t stop until the guys let me out in Saratoga Springs. They indicated a motel with reasonable rates and told me to mention them to Wayne, the bartender at the roadhouse across the street.
After settling in at the motel, I crossed over to the roadhouse. I ordered a beer and a fast meal. While eating, I mentioned our mutual friends and told him about our wild time at customs. Clancy got top billing, of course. Wayne asked if Clancy was a good mouser. I assured him that the only thing he liked better than ripping up customs agents was a good mouse hunt.
A few minutes later, Clancy was set loose in their storeroom to clean out a small but persistent rodent invasion. After an hour in the storeroom, Clancy came into the bar, jumped up on the counter, and began socializing. That cat always liked a party. Someone set down a small roast beef sub in front of him, and while passing on the bread, he ate all the beef and the hots.
We closed the bar that night and too early in the morning headed towards Boston. That evening our first stop in Boston was at the Harvard Gardens, where eight-ounce empties of beer surrounded my regular crew from the Folkie Palace. Our regular waitress, Evie, made a fuss over the cat and brought more beer and something for Clancy to eat.
Clancy joined the complement of the Folkie Palace. He fit right in with his lack of respect for authority, appreciation for our casual lifestyle, lack of regular hours, and general bon vivant take on life.
Clancy loved adventure. If it didn’t find him, he created it. As Napoleon said -“Glory is fleeting. But obscurity is forever.” Clancy loved Glory…and a good fight.