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|Ma Pete, Pete, and a cousin (probably 1950's). Courtesy of Olive Kennedy.|
This reminds me of a funny story I found about my biological grandmother Alta Slater's father Harry Slater, her uncle Pete Slater, and Pete's wife Evelyn ("Ma Pete") and the family pet magpie, Jake. The moral of the story is, don't repeat language you don't want your pet to repeat.
The story takes place in Niwot, Boulder, Colorado.
***Interview between Don Spangler and Anne Dyni in 1998. On page 15 of the document there is discussion about local newspapers between A.D. and D.S. First they talk a bit about a local newspaper man, Lee Newell, then it comes to this:
A.D.: You mentioned churches. What churches were in town?
D.S: In my time, the Evangelical Church was the only one right here on Franklin Street. Later there was one built down south of town I have no recollection of. Now it's gone. Of course, I don't remember the one on Second Avenue because Harry Slater lived there when I was a kid, with two sons.
A.D.: Didn't Harry Slater have a little newspaper himself?
D.S.: Yeah. I don't know if it was Harry or Pete.
A.D.: Oh, maybe it was Pete.
D.S.: There's an article in part of Doyle's when he quit the paper. It was Pete that had that paper.
A.D.: Did you know Pete?
D.S.: Oh yeah.
A.D.: Can you describe him?
D.S.: Both Harry and Pete were bricklayers. And they had a hod carrier, Tony DiSanto, lived up on the hill. That's all he did. All winter Tony saved all his summer money and he just laid around in the winter. They were bricklayers.
A.D.: What did Harry and Pete do in the winter?
D.S.: They saved their money. They didn't do anything. You can't lay brick in the wintertime.
A.D.: Can you describe Ma Pete to me?
D.S.: Not really. She was a loud-mouth. She talked a lot. She swore a lot. The magpie that Herb (her son) had was Ma Pete's voice (laughter). And he could swear just like Ma Pete. I remember one story that she told me about Jake the magpie, because that's really the only thing we had in common. Herb and I didn't hang out together because he was older than me. She had gone down in the basement. Jake was kept in the basement. And of course the windows were open and he whistled at the dogs that went by and drove 'em nuts. He called "Kitty, kitty, kitty" and every cat in town would come over and look at him and give an "I got fooled again" type of look and walk away. But that was Ma Pete's voice. And she was down in the basement doin' something and, I don't know. He got to pestering her and she kind of pushed him off and gave him a scolding. She went back upstairs and when she got upstairs she heard breaking glass. So she goes back down in the basement and here's old Jake...he gets up behind an old fruit jar that's empty and pushes it off on the floor. Then he turns to her and says, "Go to hell. Go to hell". (laughter)
A.D.: Well what about the time he got loose?
D.S.: Yeah, that's when he got down here. There was an old guy by the name of Frank Reeves who, after he passed away (he was a little eccentric) and they found his basement was just lined with canned goods. Because of the war he was afraid of starving to death, of being bombed. And his basement was lined with canned goods. He was goin' to last a while. But he had a cherry orchard out in the back yard and the birds constantly raided his cherry orchard. So he was out there with his shotgun. And he'd make waves, maybe he didn't kill one of 'em but at least he scared the birds away. And Herb came whistling past my place on his bicycle. "Where you goin', Herb". And he says, "Jake got away." So I got on my bicycle and followed Herb and when we get down to Frank Reeves place, he's standing in his back yard with his shotgun in his hand, and he's white. He's pale. Herb said, "You didn't shoot my magpie, did you?" He says, "Is that your magpie?" He says, yeah." He says, "No, I didn't shoot him. He told me to go to hell." (laughter). It scared him about half to death. Anyway, Herb retrieved his magpie. But that Jake was really funny..
***I originally found this excerpt from a longer interview at
but the Boulder County website has subsequently changed and I can no longer find the file.
© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.