by Bob Kaster
When I was in kindergarten through the third grade, we lived in a poor and somewhat rough neighborhood in the heart of Los Angeles. My dad was going to medical school to become a doctor, and did not have much money to spend for rent. Although I had friends at school and in the neighborhood, I didn’t have a lot of freedom. I didn’t have a bike, and couldn’t have animals.
All that changed when I had my ninth birthday. My dad graduated from medical school, and we moved to King City where he went to work as a doctor. King City was a small town, smaller than Yreka, and it was a great place at the time.
Before we moved we went to a bicycle shop in Los Angeles, and my parents bought me a new bicycle. We had it shipped on the train to arrive in King City on my birthday.
On the day that it arrived my dad took me to the railway station to pick it up. We took it out of the box and assembled it at the railway station. Then I rode it home, about ten blocks, with my dad driving behind me because I was still a little wobbly. Freedom! I could ride my bike wherever I wanted to in town, including to the municipal swimming pool, which I did almost every day in the summertime.
My parents said I could have a dog. At this time there had been a couple of movies starring Lassie, a beautiful, smart, and brave Collie. They also made a TV series about Lassie. I wanted a Collie. My parents bought me a female Collie puppy. She was smaller than Lassie, and her nose a little more pointy, but her fur was beautifully colored. She was also very smart and good natured.
I tried to decide on a name, and selected, for some reason that I can’t now remember, Jane. I have an aunt named Jane, my mom’s younger sister. Aunt Jane now lives in Texas, and just recently celebrated her ninetieth birthday. But back then she was a young woman who had just graduated from college. She lived in an apartment close to us and worked in a medical office.
Aunt Jane didn’t like that I named my dog Jane. She wasn’t mean about it, but I could tell she was displeased, so I and everyone else called her “Janey.”
Having a dog in King City at the time was great. There were no leash laws so she could roam around our front lawn and sleep on the porch. She never left the yard even though there was no fence. We had two white ducks, who also roamed our front lawn. Janey got along fine with the ducks, as well as Peggy, our neighbor’s dog, and all the cats in the neighborhood.
It was a wonderful time for Janey, and for her master.