This story is about Bob, a crow, a family pet we had for many years. I was about 3 years old when one morning my mother said to me, "Kenneth, would you like to see the crow?" At that age, I had no idea what a crow was, but I do remember following my older brother down to the basement to a closed box. When Jimmie opened the box, a big, black bird jumped out.
My great uncle had taken three young crows out of a nest and had given one to my older brother. When we got him, he was still a baby. That same day, Jimmie built a small cage with some scrap wood and ordinary chicken wire. He named him Bob. We fed the young crow raw hamburger and old slices of bread. As he got older, we fed him fresh corn, peanuts and fruit scraps.
This bird turned out to be very unusual in many ways. He did not like getting up early in the morning like most birds. As a result, we would usually take him outside about noon and put him in his cage. At night, we would bring him inside and put him in the basement in a bushel basket lined with newspaper. This is what he had for a bed.
When Bob was growing up, he was very noisy. Many of the neighborhood kids would go by and hear him squawking. The kids would start yelling "Aw, shut up." Bob quickly noticed this, and in about two to three months, he was saying "Aw shut up" back to everyone else. When we would go to feed him, we would often say, "Here, Bob." This was something else he learned to say in a short time.
My father had a moonlight business repairing radios and television sets. His workbench was also in the basement. Quite often, when things would not go right, dad would say several choice words that children were not permitted to say. Well, the crow noticed these words, too.
Bob was about 2 years old when he flew away one morning. We all figured that he was long gone. However, several of the neighborhood kids would tell us they had seen him at school, and the man that delivered our bread told us he had seen him on rooftops in another part of Dunbar. One morning after being gone for about 10 days, he was in the backyard wanting back in his cage. While he was gone, we think he may have tried to join the wild crows up on the hill behind the house, but they ran him off. The neighbors all joked with us and said, "the language he uses is the reason they did not want him around."
Several people often asked us if we had to split his tongue to get him to talk. Well, the answer to that question was an emphatic no.
I remember when I was about 12 years old there was a very pretty girl who lived in an upstairs apartment next door. One day when I was telling her a long-drawn-out story, Bob rudely interrupted saying, "Aw shut up." Everyone present got a good laugh out of this. Another time, the crow was fussing at several smaller birds in a nearby tree. When the little birds flew off, Bob looked up at the tree and said, "Aw, hell."
One day when I was at school, a wildlife biologist came to see him. The biologist told my parents if that bird had been in the wild and had lived for two or three years, chances are he would have been a leader.
The crow enjoyed having an audience and would often put on a show for anyone who wandered in. The people who knew him would tell the newcomers "watch out what you say because that bird will cuss you out."
In February 1962, Bob passed away. I had the unpleasant task of burying him in the back yard. While I was digging the hole, the following thoughts went through my mind. When we got him, I was just 3 years old. I am now burying him, and I am a senior in high school.
For the two or three days, everyone was down in the dumps because of the loss of the pet crow.