Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dog Tale 6: William the Presbyterian

I used to have a cartoon that showed two dogs talking. One, a large dog with a keg tied around his neck, said: "I'm a St. Bernard." The other, a dog of no particular breed, said: "I'm not sure. I think I'm a Presbyterian." That other dog could have been William.

From the beginning, our daily walks brought us, at least once a day, to the square in front the courthouse, midway between St. Mary's Catholic Church and the First Presbyterian Church. (Christ Church Episcopal, of course, is there, too, but it doesn't figure in this story.) It seemed that a decade or so ago the bells of the two churches were rung more often than they are now, and we would frequently be in courthouse square when either the bells of St. Mary's or the bells of the First Presbyterian Church were ringing. When it was the bells of St. Mary's, William would make a sound like low howling, which one witness called "singing" but seemed to me, because ear twitching was involved, an indication that the pitch of the bells was hurting his ears. By contrast, William seemed to enjoy the sound of the bells at the First Presbyterian Church.

William's apparent Protestant leanings were fortuitous. When I adopted him in 1999, I was on the board of the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church, and in the early years, he spent a fair amount of time with me at the church. This is one of my favorite pictures. I love the composition. It was a candid shot, taken in 2000 by the late Albert Fenn. The background is the east wall of the church.

What I'm wearing on my head, which makes the shape of my profile resemble William's, is a weather vane hat (shown at right)--a black baseball cap with a replica of the church's historic weather vane, cut from black foam core, stitched on the top. All the Friends board members wore such hats at the Weather Vane Festival in 2000, which celebrated the installation of a reproduction weather vane, made by a skilled artisan, at the top of the church's soaring steeple--a measure taken to allow the 225-year-old original, which was badly corroded, to be preserved indoors as a treasured artifact. We gave a weather vane hat to News10 meteorologist Steve Caporizzo, who did a weather workshop for kids at the festival, and he wore it on the air that same night.

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