Newspapers and Talking Birds

My Real Memoir

Dad was ambitious to a fault. Acquiring a newspaper dealership in a brand-spanking-new suburb was great (honestly, I don’t recall any more than the usual amount of spanking). But it would be some time before enough customers lived there to put gas in our two cars and tuna in our three cats. Newspaper dealers were expected to not only hire paper boys and collect subscriptions, but continuously build up their territory.

So, along with sending “Welcome” letters and knocking on doors (I write about that here), Dad sought other ways of expanding his business in brand-spanking (or at least stern-talking-to) new La Mirada.

Result? He took on the local “rack route.” This consisted of placing newspaper racks at outlets like drug stores and coffee shops. Every day, Dad would stock the racks with papers, put new headline cards in them (“Space Race Heats Up!”), and empty their cash slots of shiny new dimes and nickels!

For a while, I snagged rare me-and-Dad time by riding along on this rack route. We’d talk, sing “My Friend the Witch Doctor” along with the radio, and shout “Tequila!” each time the sax solo stopped. And then I’d help Dad restock the racks, and get a cold Dr. Pepper (my drug of choice) as a reward.

But my absolute favorite stop was “Gus’s liquor store.” Dad would greet the owner while I talked to Pretty Boy the mynah bird, who blithely greeted customers as they entered. But the titular event would come when anyone asked Pretty Boy, “Where’s Gus?” and initiate the greatest recurring comedy bit in cross-species history!

Pretty Boy would screech, “Here, Gus!” in his best mock-human voice. And a moment later, Gus the hound dog, dubious protector of all things hooch, would come loping in, and look groggily up at the owner. The owner would say, “Don’t look at me, Gus, I didn’t call you.” And then Gus, who to his dying day never dreamed that birds could talk, would–after a sympathetic head pat or two–lope lazily back into the storage room. At which point, Pretty Boy would guffaw “Ah-hah-hah-hah-hah!” till the cows (and other gullible species) came home.

No one will ever convince me that bird didn’t know exactly what he was doing. And so did I when I spent time with Dad, Pretty Boy…

And Gus.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Newspapers and Talking Birds

  1. wynneleon says:

    I love this story!! Well-told and so much fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mitchteemley says:

    Thank you, Wynne, I love telling it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mya says:

    Awwww, that’s a great memoir! I believe Gus and the bird both knew what they were doing!! Hmmmm, the beginning of a children’s book maybe! You have all the characters already, Dad/Son/Dog and a talking Bird 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. PeachyTO says:

    A touching and funny memory, thanks for sharing. And Gus is a great name for a hound dog, I must say!

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. Nancy Ruegg says:

    That bird-and-dog performance should have been on the Ed Sullivan Show! I’ve heard that mynah birds are the best talkers, but to remember a whole routine involving two lines, two other “actors,” and timing–well, that has to be a rare feat! Of course, the dog must have been pretty smart too, since he obviously owned the liquor store.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a wonderful story, Thank you for telling it, Mitch! Enjoy a wonderful rest of the week! xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  8. leendadll says:

    I spent my teens to 20s over the hill in Fullerton. I’m bummed I never heard of Gus’!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kerbey says:

    Ooh eeh ooh ah ah

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jon says:

    Terrific telling!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the Gus story! (Poor, beleagered Gus.)

    Liked by 1 person

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