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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jingles is Very Fond of String Beans


My grandfather, Poppa Bisgood, had just buried his wife, Dede, in the family cemetery. He loved Dede, as did we all. However, she was rather bossy and set in her ways. During their long marriage, she had never allowed Poppa to have a dog or drink alcohol in their house. Freed from these restrictions, on the way home from the cemetery Poppa bought a dog and a case of beer.

Poppa got two blue ribbons. The dog was a registered toy fox terrier from a long line of champions. The beer was Pabst Blue Ribbon. The puppy couldn't stop kissing Pappa on the way home, his identification tags making jingly noises every time he jumped up to kiss Poppa's face. Poppa named him Jingles and they bonded instantly. The case of beer?–that worked too.

Poppa was lame and could not go out of the house without assistance, nor did he wish to. So he and Jingles settled into Poppa's favorite easy chair in the shabbily comfortable 1840's Sag Harbor captain's house which Poppa had bought for $1 from his father many years before. Jingles was very good company for Poppa because he did not want to go out either, other than to take care of his canine business, which he conducted under the forsythia in the yard.

The two of them merrily wore a path from Poppa's chair through the dining room to the kitchen, where they dined on cheese and liverwurst (which Poppa washed down with a beer or two) for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. In addition to meals, several times a day they would rendezvous in the kitchen for a snack of cheese and crackers. The words "Come on my little cheese hound, it's time for our snack," were music to Jingles' ears. With that, the two of them would hobble and trot off to the kitchen. Jingles didn't care that he had given up a life of show-ring glamour and fame. It's not that he didn't like strutting. He liked strutting very much, so long as it was into the kitchen. Living with a fromageur was much more fun than being a show dog. He thought he was the luckiest dog in the world to have ended up with Poppa!

After a time, though, Jingles no longer looked the handsome champ he was born and bred to be. In fact, he more closely resembled a beach ball with legs than a dog. No matter–he was still highly regarded among breed fanciers because he had championship blood coursing through his little canine veins. One day, a breeder came to call. She wanted to borrow Jingles as a stud for her Juliette, who was in heat. She told Poppa that the black spot on Jingles' back was perfectly placed for the breed, even if it did look like an overblown black balloon on Jingles'enormous-sized rump. Poppa, a true romantic, told Jingles he would probably enjoy being a sire and to go with the nice lady. Even though Jingles hated leaving Poppa and the house, he obeyed and followed the breeder.

Much to the breeder's dismay, Jingles did not fall in love with Juliette-or if he did, it was an entirely platonic relationship. Despite the fact that Juliette was in heat, Jingles growled every time she got near him. Jingles only had eyes for Poppa and soon was returned home, where a large plate of liverwurst and cheese awaited him. To mollify any ruffled feelings the breeder and/or Juliette might have harbored, Poppa remarked about the unsuccessful romance, "I guess Jingles is just a natural-born bachelor."

Life went happily on for Poppa and Jingles. However, the family became increasingly concerned about the unhealthy life style Poppa had fallen into without Dede. And nobody could believe the girth on Jingles! We all started to visit and look after them whenever we could. One weekend my cousin Jack drove all the way to Sag Harbor from college to clean the house, wash Poppa's laundry and cook some nutritious meals. At dinner that night in the formal dining room, Jack was delighted to be getting some wholesome food into Poppa for a change. Poppa seemed to be doing a good job of cleaning his plate, too. Soon, though, Jack noticed that Poppa was surreptitiously slipping all of his food under the table to Jingles–chicken, salad, potatoes, and even the string beans. Tired and stressed from all the driving, housekeeping and cooking, Jack lost his temper and yelled at Poppa that he had driven 300 miles to make the food that Poppa was slipping to that canine basketball under the table. Poppa looked Jack directly in the eye, smiled politely, paused, and, in that manner and cadence that only the English can pull off, replied,

"Why ... Jingles is very fond of string beans."

Paint on,


  1. Great story as usual. Here is a followup.

  2. Thanks and I loved watching the follow ups!

  3. Loved the story. It's so funny about Poppa leaving the cemetery to buy a dog and beer!!

  4. you are so good at crafting the stories...Glad so many people read your blog........I enjoy it....

  5. Great story Poppa bought the house from his mother Fanny after Harry left them stranded When Fanny married William Reimann four years later she sold the House to Poppa for a dollar Fanny moved into William Reimann's house on Main street

  6. Thanks Jack, that is what I meant! xoxoxo

  7. I heard that Jingles didn't actually like liverwurst--he just ate it to be a good sport.

  8. Jingles wanted genoa salami, but your grandfather was very set inj his ways.

  9. Very funny. I enjoyed that a lot!