aka "Shanty"

1962 - 1973

Shanty was a female Siamese born in San Diego, CA in the late months of 1962. My parents met Shanty when she was about 8 weeks old and living at the San Diego Animal Shelter. It was love at first sight and she immediately joined them in their apartment in San Diego. Shanty's full name translates in Mandarin Chinese to soft little cat. She enjoyed the role of first child, riding in their convertible, outings at the beach, and Sunday picnics at La Jolla cove. My mother always said Shanty was a well-behaved cat, and on trips always stayed where you put her.

Shanty in San Francisco - 1966 When my father resigned from naval service in September 1963 to enter Stanford University, Shanty accompanied them in the drive from San Diego to Palo Alto, where lived with them in a series of apartments in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and San Francisco. When Shanty went into heat while my father was studying for finals and my mother had to hide with her in the closet so she wouldn't disturb him. The doctor gave Shanty tranquilizers, but it only made her howl more, and bump into walls. She was finally neutered in late 1963 at the San Mateo County animal shelter. She continued the role of first child while my mother worked for Computer Sciences Corporation and my father was a graduate student at Stanford.

My mother had certain "rituals" with Shanty. One of them was the ham in the elephant. My parents had this bronze elephant, I am not sure what it was, I think a planter. It was about the size of a small dog, and was hollow with a huge hole on the top. My mother would put ham in the elephant, and Shanty would try and get it out. Shanty was what my mother called a "hamwort," or a lover of ham.

In the early spring of 1968 when the Larsons relocated to Northern Italy, she flew in my mother's lap from San Francisco to Rome and on to Venice. In fall of 1968, she accompanied my mother and father to Cyprus, flying from Milan to Athens and on to Nicosia. I was born just before winter in Cyprus, but early on I knew Shanty was the first born. She was never mean to me, but use to watch me in my crib, unless my mother shoed her away. I think some of my earliest memories are of this cat, her dark face and blue eyes silently watching me.

In early Spring 1969, she flew solo in a large instrumentation van carried aboard an Air Force transport plane from one British military base in Cyprus to another in England. Why not in my mother's lap again? Well, England is famous for their quarantine. They make you store your pet in a facility for six months! And not only do you have to keep your pet there, but you have to pay for it the whole time. I guess they are just paranoid about getting rabies or something, but now with the Chunnel, who knows. The way my parents were rushing around, keeping anything in storage for six months was a liability. So Shanty was... transported... in a van that carried some computer equipment. It was climate controlled, and got plenty of air. Back in those days, computer equipment was really fussy about how it was handled. She subsequently lived with the us in a country manor in rural England approximately 100 km north of London. In the summer of 1969, when the Larsons moved to Paris for two months prior to their return to the United States, she flew with us from London to Paris. She stayed with me in the Paris apartment of a friend while my parents visited East Africa for three weeks, and then flew for a month long vacation in Corsica.

Shanty, tired from playing with her favorite toy, 
falls asleep.In September 1969, Shanty and I returned to Palo Alto with my parents, flying in my mother's lap again non-stop from Paris to Los Angeles, and joined them in their first of several homes in the Stanford area. I have had many cats as an adult, and the thought of any cat sitting in my lap for 18+ hours seems unrealistic, but my mother said she would sit through anything. Every few hours, she would take Shanty to the plane's lavoratory, put out a small box, some sand, and a bowl of water and food. Shanty would use these facilities in short order, and then go back to the lap. My mother used to say she would look out the window like she had found the highest perch of any cat. Back in those days, you could travel with your pet as carry-on, but you can't now.

In the 1971-73 period, Shanty had a series of medical problems involving a diseased kidney, culminating in her death in the spring of 1973, at the age of 11.

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