After the trauma of receiving orders to Vietnam on Halloween, we went on with our daily lives. Jenny worked for a title company, and I continued with my duties on the rifle range.
Occasionally we would have a week with no shooters at the range, and we would do maintenance duties. I used these opportunities to refurbish and construct new targets. They were 6′ X 6′ wood frames with cloth stretched over them, and a paper target was glued to the cloth. We stored them in target sheds. The sheds were good places for varmints (squirrels, mice and snakes) to hide, and we were always on the lookout when working around or in them.
One day I was in a shed and heard a barely audible hum and froze. It was an animal sound, and I didn’t want to disturb it. Finally I narrowed it down to a small wooden crate (old ammo box) and peeked into it. There was a Siamese cat with big blue eyes staring at me, and the noise was his steady purr. I started to pick him up but realized he was skin and bones and was too weak to escape. Apparently the cat had been in a fight and found this place to hide and recover from his wounds. No one on the range wanted to deal with him, and some were suggesting we put him out of his misery. I decided to take him home. How he got there and how he had survived would remain a mystery.
Jenny was surprised and happy with the cat. He was a good patient and recovered quickly. He was playful and liked to sit on the T.V., facing the wall, with his tail hanging down in front of the screen. I don’t remember why, but we named him Augustus. “Gus” became Jenny’s companion while I was in Vietnam and would keep her busy by running away from time to time. She always managed to retrieve him, or he would somehow find his way back home.
We kept Gus as a member of our family until he died of old age just before Thanksgiving in 1982. We have good memories of him.
Next edition: Sniper School