Thee Oak Roader

“Phaaaaa, Phaaaaa” she shouted out to her neighbor who lived across the road. Erma had lived on Oak Road in Cleveland Heights for many years. She was true, and she was timeless. She asked her neighbor if he could make a small casket for her. She knew that he could do it for her, as it was for her pussy cat that had passed on.

Her neighbor was a tall, quiet man, originally from Mississippi. Erma called him Pa, but his name was Bish, short for Bishop, and, of course, that he was not. She looked up and into his face and asked him again. “Sure,” he said, and off he went to make the coffin.

It did not take him very long to finish it. Erma was very pleased and asked “Pa” to put the cat in the box, saying she would be with them momentarily. When he placed the poor creature into the box, the cat’s eyes were wide open and staring. The fur on its little body was standing up; it was stiff and prickly, just like a hedgehog.

Erma came down from upstairs all dressed up like a dog’s dinner. Her greasy hair had been combed, and she wore a beautiful black bold T-shirt with shiny beaded lettering on it: The Cat That Got Away. Her slacks were the same as always with their shiny spots that she had worn in over many months. Her sneakers matched her Love that Red lipstick.

So, a few words were said over the buried cat. Erma turned to examine the outfit on “Pa’s” wife. It was black like Erma’s, an unspoken kindness any good Oak Roader would do. They sat on her porch and sipped a glass of sherry. Erma made a toast. She was happy now that her dear lovely pussy cat had gone up to Cat heaven, to begin his meows in the Cat heaven choir. And then, they all sat and waited for the next episode of the Oak Roaders.

Anita King lived on Oak Road in Cleveland Heights with her husband Bishop for over 30 years. Although she now lives in an apartment, she revels in her many memories of the Oak Road community, affectionately known as the Oak Roaders.

Editor's Note: Readers are welcome and encouraged to submit neighborhood memories, or current events, of growing up and living in the Heights.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 12:19 PM, 04.28.2008