By Norris Chambers

            The automobiles of the thirties used a six volt battery. Many country folks used a radio that was powered by a six volt battery. Those batteries looked very much like the twelve volt ones in use today. When a battery was used to power a radio it was connected by two strong spring metal clips, one on each terminal. Using these clips made it easy to disconnect the battery and get it charged. Battery clips were serrated on the connecting edges and the strong spring caused them to bite into the relatively soft lead from which the battery posts were molded. The battery posts were round and about a half inch in diameter. The two power wires from the radio were connected to the end of the clips.

            Our radio was on a small table in the corner of the room on the right hand side of the fireplace. The battery was not there since it was in the process of being recharged. The two long wires with the attached clips were pushed under the table where they were to remain out of sight until needed.

            It was a very cold day. My mother was positioned in her favorite chair in front of the fireplace knitting or tatting and attempting to keep warm. Clifton was sitting in a cane-bottomed chair on the left side reading a newspaper. I was lounging on the hard plank floor by the radio table, leaning against the west wall of the old log house. I wasn’t doing anything except watching the fire burn. I was slightly upset because the weather was so cold that there was little we could do outside. My mother expressed concern now and then about my father staying out in the weather too long.

            One highly contented character seemed to be the big cat, Bimbo. He was curled up by the side of the fire and appeared to be asleep. No doubt he was warm and happy and was not concerned at all about the cold weather outside. Bimbo had grown up from a little ball of fuzz and was now a full grown cat. His color was gray with small black spots and we referred to his color as “garden variety”.  The term “garden variety” meant that there was nothing unusual about his color. It was about the same hue as most of the cats in the area.

            I guess I wasn’t thinking much when I got a sudden notion that I should take one of the battery clips and attach it to the end of the cat’s tail. I slowly picked up the clip and moved it, along with the wire that attached it to the radio on the table, opened it silently and slipped it quietly over the tip of Bimbo’s long tail.

            The excitement that ensued was completely unexpected. The first thing to catch my attention was a scream so loud and piercing that I could never have believed it came from a cat.

Before my startled ears could regain their equilibrium old Bimbo took off like a scared rabbit and the little radio came crashing to the hearth, suddenly dislodged from its proper place on the table. When the radio whammed against my mother’s legs the clip dislodged from Bimbo’s tail and took a nice clump of hair with it. The maneuvering cat jumped into Clifton’s lap and knocked the paper he was reading to the floor. By digging several sharp claws into Clifton’s legs he managed to leap almost to the hall door. After an attempt to break through the closed door he circled the room a couple of times, again complaining in cat language and bustling across the fireplace hearth.

            “What in the world happened?”  My mother asked, looking around the room and surveying the damage.

            “Maybe the cat got too close to the fire.” Clifton suggested. I knew what happened, but I didn’t say anything at the moment.

            My mother got out of the chair and patiently began gathering up the odds and ends she had held in her lap in the pursuit of her knitting or tatting. I gently retrieved the radio and gave it a quick inspection to determine the damage. It apparently hadn’t received any external damage. There was a wad of cat hair in the jaws of one of the battery clips. I quickly removed it and stuck it in my shirt pocket for later disposal. Clifton was talking to the disturbed cat, trying to assure it that everything was all right.

            What caused the cat to go wild and the radio to fall to the floor remained a mystery. I had to explain it to Clifton later, but I don’t think my mother ever knew why the cat went loco. I knew and the cat knew. Was this cat episode a fun thing? After everything cooled down I decided that it was. In fact, I still have to laugh when I think about that wild cat dragging the radio across the floor with its tail and a simple battery clip. I don’t advise modern fun-makers to try this. There are easier ways to have fun. If you do decide to try it, pick a small cat and a large radio. It might be fun, after all!