25 October 2011

Joe and Petey

We lived in Rochester, New York, and I was in high school at the time. The family next door were from Ireland and had two sons, Joe and Jim, Joe being the oldest, three years younger than me. Joe introduced me to Petey. But first, a little background.

Joe was curious by nature. As an example, his mother came home from shopping one day with an archery set for Joe, who promptly took it out in the backyard where Jim was playing. Trying to find out what might happen, Joe took aim at the sky and let an arrow fly. He learned that what goes up must come down, and come down it did - right onto his brother’s head. Fortunately, the arrow had a blunt point so no physical damage was done to Jim, but Joe couldn’t sit down for a while. There are other examples, like the time he sneaked his father’s pistol out of the house, went into the woods and accidentally shot himself in the hand, requiring the fire department to bring him home. And there was that other time… Well, I did say a
little background.

Our neighbor across the street was raising a Cooper’s hawk and a Peregrine Falcon. The falcon’s name was Petey, but I don’t remember the name of the hawk (probably Cooper). The owner was going on vacation and asked Joe to feed and water his birds. Everything went well for a day or two until Joe decided to find out if he could let Petey out and call him back to the cage. Well, Petey didn’t come back to Joe, instead flying around a bit before alighting onto a chimney down the street. Joe was frantic that the bird was going to disappear. He called to me and explained the situation, so I took a piece of raw beef and the leather glove that Joe had and walked down the street to where Petey could see me. I waved the meat back and forth and whistled to call him down, and, lo and behold, he did. He landed on my gloved hand and went for the meat. I took hold of the straps on his legs (there’s a name for them which you probably all know) and made sure he couldn’t fly away, then walked up the street and put him back in his cage. Joe swore me to secrecy. As far as I can tell, the owner never did find out about Petey‘s freedom flight. And Joe went on to other days of infamy.

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