Thursday, July 8, 2010
Letter To The Editor
Tom the cat:
I am writing as a concerned citizen and former resident of West Elder Street in Holly Springs.
I lived on that street for nearly three years before moving a few weeks ago after getting married and buying a home a few streets away. In that time, I witnessed and was victim to an alarming amount of criminal activity.
In the period of a month in the summer of 2008, my sister and I had our tires slashed a total of eight times. Our dogs were constantly tortured in our own fenced yard by pedestrians carrying box cutters and sticks. Every time we mowed the yard, we had to pick up gin bottles out of the grass and the flower beds first. Profanity and gang insignia were written in the snow on my car this past winter, and my car was also used in some kind of juvenile game involving jumping on its roof and was subsequently dented. My now husband had $500 worth of fishing equipment taken out of the carport the first time he ever visited me in Holly Springs. The Holly Springs Police responded when we called but were often able to do very little due to a limited staff and lack of neighborhood involvement.
Since I moved, I have had the first restful nights since residing in Holly Springs, but my worry is far from over. My sister, brother-in-law, and almost 1-year-old nephew still live there. I wonder if he’ll grow up to have his bicycle stolen like the little boy across the street. I wonder if he’ll even be able to play in his own yard. A neighborhood once full of beautiful, historic homes and close neighbors is now full of drugs, violence, and general chaos.
I write this now because I feel that I have experienced the final straw. Last week, my twin sister, Dr. Elizabeth Smith, a local veterinarian, called me in tears so intense I could barely understand her. As she stood in her driveway taking her son out of the car seat, a white truck with loud dual exhaust pipes came flying down the road, gas pedal to the floor, and hit the family cat, right in front of them at the edge of their own driveway.
Tom was his name. My sister watched again later on their security cameras as he flew over the truck and took a final, shuddering breath three steps away from her feet. I can’t imagine the driver’s sheer recklessness to get to that speed, as they are the first house on Elder as you turn from Craft Street.
In my lifetime, I have had many pets, but even I must say that Tom was special. Tom was once the feline blood donor and resident mouser at Willow Bend Animal Clinic in Holly Springs. He lived there for a few years before his super intelligence started getting him in trouble.
Oh, he ripped open a few bags of $50 dog food. He would jump out and terrify canine patients in the front of the clinic. He would get in the receptionist’s seat and refuse to move. One morning, the staff came in to find that the clinic office had been rolled with toilet paper…by Tom, who had gotten bored and opened a 24 roll package and gone to town with it. But the final straw in Tom’s clinic residency was when he tripped Dr. Childers…for the last time. That afternoon, Tom came to live with my sister and was an irreplaceable resident since.
As I write this, I can’t help but wonder how many lives in this community Tom touched without those involved even knowing. As a pet owner myself, I know how important those furry creatures can be to those who own them.
When cats would come to the clinic and need blood transfusion for various reasons (much like people), Tom would be called upon to supply the source. He was a large, powerful black-and-white cat with “good veins” as my sister would say.
He would happily give blood and get a well-earned can of sardines and a nap for his trouble, even after he had moved from the clinic to his permanent home. He saved lives; maybe they were only cat lives, but to the people who owned them, they were very special lives.
In the cat world, Tom was a darn good Samaritan. In the family world, he was an even better one. When my sister was experiencing difficulties in late pregnancy, Tom was the first to go to her side and would never leave.
Subsequently, Tom had a powerful love for my nephew, which I always thought was strange. But even when Gus was a newborn, Tom was never far away from him. That baby could pull his hair and twist his ears and poor Tom would never make a sound. It is unfortunate that Gus will never remember his cat, but I always will. And I think that he should be a lesson for our neighborhood and our community.
Things cannot continue to go on without intervention in that area. This time, it was a cat. But next time? What if it is someone’s child? As a citizen of this community, I am unwilling to step back and do nothing, say nothing, pretend that we can’t do anything about this.
Our community will never improve if we sit back and accept the status quo. I feel that if we had more of a police presence in that area, some of this nonsense could be deterred. We can restore our beautiful little town to a strong and growing community. But we will never find a solution to the problems if more of our community members don’t speak up.
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