“Cats and Dogs” redux – 1957 TNC paper by L.P. Dodge

This paper was presented by me to the Tuesday Night Club(TNC) on Nov. 15, 2016. It’s a short bio of long time Newburyport resident Laurence Paine Dodge and a reread of his humorous 1957 TNC paper, “Cats and Dogs.” At the end are the minutes of that meeting by Josiah Welch who just resigned from the TNC after a record long membership of 60 years.

Laurence Paine Dodge, my great uncle and better known as LP, was a pillar of the Tuesday

L.P. Dodge
LP

Night Club for its first half century. He was a club founder in 1911 and served as its first and faithful secretary for 54 years. It is with great pleasure I will read one of his papers that was sent to me a few months ago to me by Laurence Paine Dodge II, LP’s great grandson.

I have never met LP the younger, but he is one of a half dozen or so Dodges to comes out of woodwork upon discovering – thanks to the Internet – my 2015 paper about the Dodge shoe dynasty. Eight or so relatives I had never met contacted me from all over the North America.

Born in 1885, LP was youngest of three brothers and perhaps eclipsed professionally by his siblings despite his Harvard pedigree.

Robert Gray Dodge, his oldest brother by 13 years, had one impressive resume. As a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a founding partner of the Palmer, Dodge, Bradford and Gardner law firm, president of the Boston Bar Assn. and a founder of the Mass. Bar Assn., a founder of Northeastern University and its board chairman for 20 years and board chairman of Wellesley College. He also served as a director at NE Life and Shawmut Bank. The Palmer in his firm,I believe, was Bradley Palmer, a scion of the North Shore and who created the United Fruit Company with massive land holdings in Central America. He was also key player in the formation Gillette and International Telephone and Telegraph.

The middle brother, Edwin, was 11 years older than LP and a nationally known architect who, among other things, designed Newburyport High School. He is also known for his unhappy marriage to Mabel Dodge, a wealthy heiress who flitted about the higher echelons of the art and literary worlds.

Both Robert and Edwin and others mentioned in this short biographical sketch figure into LP’s paper.

For his part, LP was reportedly an unlicensed stock broker when the stock market crashed in October, 1929. Word is he lost a lot of other people’s money and had to be bailed out. Another theory holds that he and his partner invested a fortune in an oil company on October 28, 1929. The next day, the market crashed, immortalizing October 29, 1929 as  Black Tuesday.

What we do know he is never regularly worked again for his remaining 36 years. His brother Robert defended him against rumored lawsuits, but this is all heresay and that’s all we know about this episode of LP’s life.

LP’s real crash came in January, 1934 when his beloved wife Anne Woodwell Thurlow Dodge died of leukemia just shy of her 48th birthday. In his pocket diaries which I reviewed last year, he on numerous occasions mentioned that he dreamt about her. It was a sad notation among rather mundane observations about the weather, and where he dined and went.

His salvation was his well-developed sense of humor and associated antics. All he needed was an audience. When I was about 12 or 13, he came to suppah as we New Englanders like to say and kept hand dumping food on friend Jean Wilson’s plate which sent me into gales of laughter. I remember the twinkle in his eyes and boyish grin. My parent implored him to stop. He didn’t of course.

LP must have had a thing about throwing food. TNC member emeritus Josiah Welch, who was elected a TNC member in 1956, recalls that he first hosted at a restaurant at 4 High Rd. in Newbury because he lived in an apartment at the time. Joe remembers LP tossing lamp chops into the fire place. Joe adored LP and often played cribbage with him.

I might have been 4 or 5 when I broke wind during the Unitarian Church Candlelight service. LP was sitting behind my family and was very amused.  No one enjoyed a good fart more than LP.

At the same time, he was fiercely bright, articulate, irascible and a liberal beacon among mostly conservatives in the TNC. If he didn’t like what someone said, he would often say “He can kiss my ass at high noon in Pray’s window (Pray’s was a department in Newburyport).

His TNC minutes, nearly a 1,000 of them, are concise, humorous, erudite and often pointed. His passing was noted at meeting 952 on Nov. 3, 1965: “Due notice was taken in the minutes of the passing of our beloved founder-secretary Laurence Paine Dodge and there was talk of nominating his successor. Obviously, no one could really fill Laurence’s place in the club, but it was noted that Joe Welch should be entrusted with the task of sending out notices and that Ed Dunning should keep minutes of the meetings.”

LP had the wonderful knack of making the mundane interesting and entertaining. Before I get to his paper, Cats and Dogs, I want to read a short sample of his meeting minutes that I randomly chose. I say randomly because all his minutes were, more or less, this good.

From the meeting 573 on April 25th, 1944.

“The speaker was Morris Wood who made his bow to the Club with a paper call “The Evils of Drink.” With a lack of realism worthy of the Newburyport Civic League a quarter of a century ago, Morris trotted out all the old clichés and gave a fearsome picture of what booze does to industry and to one’s own physical well-being. The treatment was so old fashioned as to suggest the suspicion that in reality the speaker was spoofing us, a feeling well founded for Morris subsequently admitted that all his material had been gleaned from the pages of the Newburyport News during the year 1912. It remained for A.P. Brown to state the clinching argument by pointing out that of the 15 members of the TNC who have died during the Club’s history, five were abstainers, seven exceedingly moderate drinkers while only three could by any standard be called good bottle men.”

With that, I give you Cats and Dogs.

“CATS and DOGS”

By L. P. Dodge

August 23, 1885 – November 1965

presented to the Tuesday Night Club at Tuesday Night Club Meeting #800 on March 19, 1957

I was “brought up” as the saying goes by my aunt Mrs. William S. Gray known as Aunt Nacy. I lived with her until I was married (1909) except for the time I was at Harvard. She was a self-effacing, unselfish woman and a great influence on me until her death. When I was a small boy I used to say, “I have two mothers, a well mama and a sick mama.”

The first pet I remember was a huge Maltese cat. This animal used to jump on to Aunt Nacy’s lap, put its paws on her generous bosom and gaze fixedly into her eyes. This happened so often that she was convinced that the animal was in fact one of her ancestors and hit upon her great grandfather named Timothy Wingate Newman, and that was the name by which the cat was known as long as it lived. During my father’s life, I was not allowed to have a dog as he was afraid of them, a quality which my brother R.G. (Robert Gray Dodge) has more or less inherited, though he would deny it vehemently.

Soon after my father’s death (1902), I bought a small Boston terrier bitch from one Frank Stark, who was a starter for the trolley lines in Market Square. (It is difficult to imagine today that there ever was any need for a starter.) We named the dog Molly, and she was a sweet little thing devoted to my aunt. One night I was reading in bed with Molly by my side. I was eating Peek Frean biscuits out of a tin box which was on the floor beside the bed. Suddenly Molly jumped off the bed and landed one of her hind legs on the sharp edge of the box. Her foot was cut to the bone, all the tendons severed, and she bled frightfully. In terror I telephoned Frank Snow to ask what I could do. “There is a new Veterinary just come to town named Blakely and he is living on Horton Street.” I got his number from information, called him and in no time he appeared. He did a fine job, stopped the bleeding and sewed up the wound, but as long as she lived Molly walked on the heel of her foot. Many years later, after I had married, a maid went to mail a letter taking Molly with her. In some extraordinary manner the Parker River trolley, which used to seesaw up and down High Street, struck and killed her, which affected Aunt Nacy seriously and, I think, contributed to her death, which occurred not long afterward.

The Thurlow family had moved from Colorado Springs into the Barron house next door, and it wasn’t long before I became interested in one of the daughters. The Thurlow girls rode horse back, and they rode astride which shocked many old-fashioned Newburyporters. I decided I had to have a horse and got one from E.F.& D.N. Little, who dealt in horses at their farm in Little’s Lane. He was black, and I don’t remember his name, but for several summers Anne Thurlow and I used to ride together on weekends.

Only two incidents in my equestrian career remain in my memory. One was suddenly seeing a piece of folding money on Ferry Road. I dismounted, picked it up, and found it to be a two-dollar bill. I kept it for years, but somehow it vanished. The other incident was more embarrassing. We were riding along Turkey Hill Road and approached a house, long since destroyed by fire. In front of the house were about a dozen people, men, women and children. As I reached exactly in front of them, my horse came to a sudden stop, arched his back in a most peculiar and terrifying way, and urinated for about two minutes. This much amused the onlookers, but I was covered with shame. Anne, in the meantime, had cantered on ahead.

My brother Edwin came back from Italy for my wedding, bringing with him a white French bull dog named Sauvage and a small Scottish terrier called Whiskey. When he returned to Florence, he left the dogs with me. We had hired the house at 85 High Street, now the offices of Drs. Rogers and Councilman, from a lady named Miss Florence Osgood. Next door lived a disagreeable old maid named Mary Wood who took offence at the dogs as well as us. When our year was up, she persuaded Miss Osgood to refuse to let us stay on claiming that she was frightfully annoyed by the dogs’ barking and also that we drank liquor and had noisy parties. That was a most unmerited aspersion, but we had to move taking Sauvage and Whiskey with us. We used to think that Sauvage had something the matter with his brain for every now and then he would break into a strange jerky sort of dance, jumping up and down. He was nevertheless a lovable animal quite different from Whiskey, who was dour as a proverbial Scotchman. He died one evening under the dining room table as we were eating dinner while Sauvage had to be put away.

My next dog was a Dachshund named Otis. By that time, we had moved back to my father’s house, and next door lived the James Higginses. They had a big bull terrier, and he and Otis were great pals. One day both vanished, and for several days no one knew where they were. Somehow Jim Higgins was informed that Jimmy Adams, the cider maker, had shot both dogs because he accused them of harrying his sheep. I never could believe that little Otis could possibly be capable of such a thing, and in spite of Higginses’ anger nothing could be done about it.

One afternoon as I was walking down Canal Street in Boston to the North Station, I met a man who had in his jacket a wonderful little Boston terrier, this time a male. I stopped and asked him if it was for sale; he said it was, and the price was $25. I only had fifteen in my pocket, but I borrowed ten from a friend who happened along, bought him, and rode to Newburyport in the baggage car with him in my arms. We called him Harry.

I already had another Scotty which had been given me by my friend Pete Little, otherwise known as Clarence C., who raised Scotty dogs. The one he gave me was a sport, of no value market wise, and although his name was Newcastle Roderick the third, we called him Roddy. He was a wise little boy, and after we moved to Boston, we used to go out the front door of 208 Beacon Street and, without ever attempting to go into the street, would immediately go through Clarendon Street extension on to the Esplanade where he would stay sometimes for an hour or so. Then he would come back sometimes to the front door which was all right, but occasionally to the back door which meant going down cellar and out through the back yard to let him in. The only time he was ever attacked by another dog was once by a Doberman pincher, and I have hated that breed ever since.

Harry, on the other hand, was timid and had to be taken out on a leash. Roddy lived for twelve years and had to be finally put away. Harry, however, went to New York with us. He had one unpleasant habit, however, and that was a predilection of breaking wind. One cold day I was going down upper Merrimac Street with him in the car. I saw a lady friend waiting for a bus and stopped to take her in. It was a cold raw day, and the car windows had to be shut. All the way down town Harry let fart after fart which was most unsettling to me and to my passenger.

This habit led to his death. My daughter Miriam and I drove to Newburyport with him, and he did the same thing. When we came to drive back, Miriam refused to have Harry go with us, so we left him with the Thurlows. He was struck by an automobile and killed. No one told me about it, and two weeks later, when I drove over for a TNC meeting, I went into the house calling for him and was overwhelmed with grief to hear of his death.

I forgot to tell about my parrot which John Blood brought me from the Caribbean. He was a noisy, disagreeable bird, and I never liked him. One day my wife was cleaning his cage with the window on Beacon Street open. The parrot suddenly took off, and I rejoiced. Several days later the janitor of the apartment house on the corner of Dartmouth and Beacon Streets came to the house and told us that our bird had been on the roof of his building for three days and was annoying the people living in the top story by his raucous cries. Our chore man went over and captured him but was fed up by that time and, after trying to sell him to a pet shop on Bromfield Street, finally gave it to them.

About this time also we had a cat named Chico, whether after Chico Marx or not I don’t recall. He was a huge unaltered tiger. Chico also disappeared one day, but at least a week later, when two of our maids were walking back from church, they came upon him tattered and torn on Boylston Street and brought him home. What happened to him after that I don’t know.

After Beacon Street we moved to New York so that my wife could be given treatment for a disease which ultimately proved fatal. Harry went with us, and I used to take him to Newburyport when I drove over for the TNC meetings. One day I was unlucky enough to attempt to outrace a Connecticut State Trooper whom, needless to say, I didn’t recognize at the time. I had a new Ford station wagon, and I wasn’t going to let a Chevy beat me. As we approached the town of Wilford, I had to slow down, and the trouble began. I was taken to the local police station where I was held in lieu of $50 bail. I had just $13 in my pocket. After telephoning both my brothers and finding neither in his office, I called my brother-in-law John Thurlow who wired me the money. In the meantime, I was put into a sort of cage with a boy and girl who were being held, they told me, because they had been caught in flagrante delicto. At three o’clock the officer in charge was replaced by an older man who came up to me and asked me if I was Mr. Dodge from Newburyport. When I agreed, he unlocked the pen, took me to his desk, and said, “Tell me about Bossy Gillis.” He was a pleasant guy and let me go out to the car to let Harry out for a walk. Finally, after two hours, the money arrived, and I was released. I had to go back two weeks later, pled guilty, and was fined $15. I’ve never tried to race anyone since.

After her mother’s death my daughter Miriam, who had graduated from Bryn Mawr, came to live with me on West Eleventh Street. At a party she went to, she met one Herbert Morgan, and after a whirlwind courtship, they were married in Harrison N.Y. Something you could do in those days.

Herbert had an Irish terrier bitch named Titi, which he gave to me and told me how he got her. He was returning about 2:00 a.m. from a party in Riverdale in northern Manhattan, and as he came down upper Broadway, he saw lying in the gutter a dog. He got out, put her in his car, and drove back to the apartment where he was living with his mother. He took the dog in to the bathroom to give her a bath, meanwhile addressing her in endearing words. “Don’t be afraid girlie this won’t hurt you.” “Be a nice girl etc.” His mother, awakened by the noise, thought he must have a woman in the bathroom and rushed in only to find everything was all right.

I kept Titi for many years, for she was a lovely animal. On Sundays, I took her down to Washington Square to let her run. One day a policeman came up to me and said, “You know it is against the law to let an unleashed dog run here, don’t you?” Thereupon he gave me a ticket, and the following morning I had to go to the magistrate’s court on lower Second Avenue. There were about twenty-five other culprits there, too, and after getting a lecture from the judge, we were all released. The next Sunday I went to the square again and looking around saw no officer, so I unleashed Titi again. Promptly a plain clothes cop, this time, came up and gave me another summons. This time in the same court I was fined $8.00. I didn’t try it again.

I had met Helen Traubel through my sister-in-law Alma Thurlow; they had been girls together in St. Louis. Helen was at that time doing a quarter hour sustaining program on Station WJZ twice a week. Two of my friends Bill and Emily Bass, who had visited in Newburyport, wanted to drive over with me for Harriet Shepard’s wedding, and Helen Traubel came along too. On our trip back to New York, we were held up at a traffic light on the Cross County Throughway. A car driven by a woman came around the corner and skidded into us. The station wagon had to be towed to a garage, and we all went to New York in a taxi. A few days later I went to a cocktail party nearby, and the Basses were there too. By that time, I was living in a fourth floor walk up apartment on West Ninth Street. After the party the Basses suggested that we go to dinner in a nearby restaurant. I agreed, but when we got to where I lived, I said I had to go up and get Titi to let her out. It was a simple thing with a bitch, no walking from hydrant to post, but out in the street, and it was all over. I went upstairs and, when I got there, forgot all about the Baases and went to bed. A day or two later an insurance adjuster for the woman who ran into us called on me. He asked about the people with me and whether I knew them well and if I thought they might make trouble. I was evasive and doubtful and rather intimated that they felt pretty sore. That evening Emily Bass telephoned me and said, “I was never going to speak to you again after the trick you pulled on us the other night but a man has just been here and paid us a hundred dollars apiece to sign releases so we forgive you. Let’s go out for dinner to the same place, and we will buy you yours.”

That spring I came back home for good bringing Titi with me. She went blind finally and died on Dr. Blakely’s office floor. We buried her on the Hill in our animal grave yard where my children had interred various birds etc. I remember two grave stones they had put up. “Here lies a female love bird.” “Here lies a sparrow sex unknown.”

My only other dog was darling Jeff, who was given me by my niece Alice Dodge Wolfson. The Wolfsons lived down in the village, Alice was going to have a baby, and the chore of leading a big white pointer around was too much for her. I said I would take him if they would get him to Newburyport, which they did. He was a wonderful friend, slept on the bed in my room, and could take care of himself in High Street traffic. I let him out every morning, and after looking both ways, if the coast was clear, he would run off. Sometimes he would be gone for an hour or two depending on the weather, but he always came back. Three summers ago he developed a heart condition. For three weeks I fed him digitalis, but it was no use, and sadly we took him to Dr. Klein, who put him away.

A few year before I went up to Curzon’s Mill to have dinner with Mrs. Oakman who had a horrible Dalmatian. I foolishly took Jeff along but shut him upstairs in the bathroom. Someone went up there and let him out, whereupon he came downstairs and was immediately attacked by the Dalmatian. In trying to separate them, I was badly bitten on my left hand. Streaming blood I was put in a car by Herbert Morgan and rushed down High Street. Dr. Pierce was the first doctor we came to, and Herbert rushed into his house and out on the back porch where the Pierces were having a party. “Is there a doctor here?” Herbert cried. Of course, the Pierces had no idea who he was. He had a lot of my blood on his linen jacket, but the doctor very kindly came out and fixed me up with several clamps. Pierce never tires of relating this incident. Herbert had to fly back to New York that evening and said that his fellow passenger shrank from him in terror at seeing a blood-spattered individual in their midst.

The only animal I have had since Jeff is my present cat, the one I tripped over last June, dislocating my shoulder and permanently interfering with the movement of my left arm. I wish he would die, but I haven’t the heart to have him killed.

Finally, although this incident has nothing to do with cats or dogs, I include it as being quite amusing. Helen Traubel made one more visit to Newburyport and stayed with me for the christening of my first grandchild, Abigail. She had to go back to New York that night, so I drove her to the Haverhill railroad station to take the State of Maine Express. We reached Haverhill early and sat in my car until it was time for the train. As we got out of the car, to my amazement she suddenly kissed me goodbye. The next morning, I met Phil Pearson on the street who said “What in hell was going on last night at the Haverhill station?” He never told me how he knew about it.

Tuesday Night Club Minutes

DCCC MEETING    MARCH 19, 1957

(Written by Josiah H. Welch)

The Tuesday Night Club assembled for its 800th meeting at the Governor Dummer residence of Edgar D. Dunning, Esq. Absent were Messrs. Hayward, Benton, Kinsman, Knight, Withers, Mercer, Connolly, and M. L. Dodge.

An abundance of velvety smooth cocktails prefaced a bountiful repast highlighted by a chicken-in-wine concoction that was especially appreciated.

Following dinner the faithful few gathered to hear our Secretary, L. P. Dodge, read his paper entitled “Cats and Dogs”. The paper was excellent and worthy of a far larger audience; the essayist, however, was somewhat consoled in that he felt the cream of the Club was present.

There was much speculation as to the subject of Laurence’s paper. None proved correct, however, for Laurence presented vivid thumbnail sketches of “Molly”, “Whisky”, “Souvage”, “Newcastle Roderick, III”, “Darling Jeff”, and others — all household pets of his, both past and present. A charmingly descriptive vignette which sharply portrayed our Secretary’s deep affection for animals, despite the almost constant battle they wage against each other.

The discussion flowed easily, with each member vowing his love of animals with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The discussion, in fact, seemed to be endless, abetted perhaps by our host, who brought forth spirits, ice, and glasses, just as the curfew began to toll.

It was voted to record the preface of Laurence’s paper which is a brief reminiscence of the Tuesday Night Club on its 800th meeting.

 

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