Friday, April 19, 2013


We lived on a street in one of the older residential neighborhoods in Caracas. My father was working out of town on a dam construction site and joined us on weekends. Our house had a name as did many of the houses there. Ours was "Old Parr.” We learned that two American bachelors had lived there first and had preferred that particular brand of Scotch. It had the advantge of being easy to say and cabs could find it with no trouble. Up the street from us was a girl's convent school and every day at recess we could see them in their uniforms and long braids giggling and talking. They must have had to recite the rosary during some part of their day because the parrot across the street from them would sit on his outdoor perch and imitate the sound of repeated Hail Marys, in Spanish of course.

The convent school was having an addition built and the big lot next to it was filled with workmen digging, drilling, hammering and chopping underbrush. One day a small bedraggled black and white dog appeared in our yard. She was fearful, dirty and hungry and had a deep half-healed cut along her back. In my eighteen year old wisdom I decided that we should take the poor little thing in. My mother objected but rather half-heartedly and I knew she was really a sucker for the idea. I think the idea of company around appealed to her. We bathed her as best we could, fed her and named her Sissy for no good reason that I can recall. After her bath and a meal she became a lot more presentable and certainly happier. The Venezuelan boyfriend of the moment, Manolo, viewed her with some misgiving and said that the cut was probably from the machete of one of the workmen. He pointed out some mange on her coat and brought a sure-fire cure in the way of sulpher and peanut oil to spread on. She licked this off, of course, and eventually we had a happy healthy black and white guardian of the house.

Sissy became fluent in both Spanish and English and greeted all guests with equal enthusiasm. In the year that we lived at Quinta Old Parr she provided us with companionship and love. When we had to return to the States so that I could enroll in college she remained with the house and became the pet of the American renters who followed us. They, in turn, loved and spoiled her. We learned that a year or so later that she had come to a sad end. She had been graciously speeding parting guests as was her custom and had darted into the street only to be hit by a passing car. We mourned her passing but reflected that she had had a good if short life, giving love and loyalty to the end.

(r: Manolo, Sarah and Sissy, 1945)

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