Flash Narrative: Scraps for Whiskers

Note: For more information regarding Flash Narratives, visit The Hattie Diaries. You can read the diary entry upon which today’s narrative is based here. On June 9, 1954, Hattie was 72 years old.

June 9, 1954: Scraps for Whiskers

The tenant house is vacant, and I am lost entirely. Dan left in a pickup at 12:45 on Sunday with their furniture, and Betty and little Calvin and Christie Ann followed in a car filled with plants and breakable things. The last of them I saw was the toy push mower with bells that Calvin got last Christmas, sticking out the back window. Their new home is south and a little west of Ainsworth, Nebraska, along a large lake where they will rent boats out for fishing. Dan’s brother also lived and worked here for awhile, but he moved away to manage a large ranch. Betty never said good-bye.

The sun has shone all day. At times in the afternoon I thought I heard a dog barking, but it was just a terrific south wind. Will went in our Mercury to Valentine, where he had noon dinner, got a spring for the pickup, looked at a side-delivery rake, and asked about getting someone else to help us. When I woke up this morning, my left side was numb and I fear paralysis, so I am trying not to play solitaire. I listened to the radio and read magazines most of the afternoon.

Will and I are alone tonight, and I do not know what to do with these supper scraps, these pork chop bones with good meat still on them and potato peelings and gravy scraped from the pan, now that Whisker’s old dented, metal dish is gone. This morning Dan came to get his cattle out of the pasture. I gave him a white kitten for Calvin and Christie Ann. He also took home most of his fruit jars piled in boxes near our basement door and Whiskers, his dog but my pal, also Will’s pal, for when Will went anywhere in the pickup, Whiskers always went along. I will have to get used to putting supper scraps with the chicken feed.

photo of Will Whitcher with Dogs, Calf, Coyote, Pigs
Will Whitcher with Dogs, Calf, Coyote, Pigs

10 thoughts on “Flash Narrative: Scraps for Whiskers

    • Thanks so much, Kelsey. Her last years were very sad in many ways. Hattie LOVED being around people and talking (which she also used as a way to remember what to write about in her diaries), and toward the end of her life, she couldn’t walk well and also was hoarse because of a goiter operation that damaged her vocal cords. She often wrote about how she and Will didn’t see people the way they used to.

      The other poignant part is that she seemed to love being around children, but had no grandchildren to play with, so she latched on to the children of the families who worked for them and who lived in their tenant house.

  1. What a sad and poignant slice of life and yet, Hattie’s voice doesn’t ask for sympathy. It remains proud. Nice job with that.

    My first dog (truly “my” dog) was named Whiskers–Whiskey for short. Loved that mutt. (sniff, sniff)

    • I’m so glad you don’t think Hattie is asking for sympathy, because you are right that she only rarely does so.

      Such fond memories you must have of Whiskey. Hugs to you… (and thank you)

  2. This is so real! You can hear the praire wind howling. This journal of your family really speaks to the incredable aloneness of homesteading life on the plains. I’ve read a number of poetry collections by women of this time, and it was for them, a carving of life out of the bare dust. You are doing a great job with this.

  3. Like Hattie, my Baba (grandmother) in her 70’s shared with me the sense of sorrow and loneliness when we walked back from the Avenue with the days groceries. The face of the neighborhood had changed as families moved to the suburbs and those of her own generation had passed on. A walk to the market, that had always been social was becoming increasingly isolate.

    I’m sure I will continue to notice these ties in our special women, although their locations are so different, the human experience is universal.

    • Aligaeta, thank you so much for sharing how this poignant experience of change and aging is shared by women in different times and places. It’s wonderful that you can spend time with your Baba.

  4. As you have Hattie’s diary, I have memories of Baba. In reading your reply and re-reading my comment I see the stroll from the Avenue appears to be sometime recent, when in fact, it was close to thirty years ago. My Baba (1906-1990).

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