Johnny's Corner
People Places Politics Principles Parenting Projects Paraphernalia Poetry


Johnny Jones, 7 January 2000

I love stories. I love listening to them, and I love telling them.

One of our family's favorite stories is about my niece, Allison Reid, and the cardinal.

Here is Allison's remembrance:

Most everyone remembers a childhood moment to shine: scoring the winning run in a little league game or getting the lead in a school play. I remember my special time.

I was eleven years old, a skinny fifth grader with long blond hair and contact lenses. My brothers and I had just gotten out of school for the summer, and we were eager for our summertime: swimming in our pool all day, letting our minds vegetate, and sleeping later than usual. Unfortunately, that last indulgence became impossible because of the pecking.

The first time it happened, we had no idea what the sound was. All we knew was that something was tapping loudly against our windows at four o'clock in the morning. We thought, "Oh, well. It won't happen again."

But early the next morning the cacophonous noise returned. After several days, we discovered the little perpetrator to be a cardinal.

We didn't know what to do, so we asked the veterinarian. "Just put black tarp over some of the windows," he said.

It did no good. The tapping went on. In fact, the cardinal began pecking on our windows during the day as well -- while continuing the 4 a.m. ritual, of course.

Our sleep and sanity had been tampered with long enough; this situation called for drastic measures. My father devised Plan B. "I'll give a $100 reward to anyone who can get rid of that bird," he declared.

The word got around. Nearly every day, boys my age and older came over, sitting outside in lawn chairs for hours on end in the hot Alabama sun, armed with B. B.  guns, attempting to shoot the cardinal. However, the boys were always outsmarted by that miserable bird.

While shopping at the mall with my mother one day, I discovered a stunning pair of "glass slippers." They were classy, high heeled, clear plastic shoes with a large, diamond-like gem in front and an elegance that would have put even Cinderella's to shame (I figured plastic had to be more comfortable than actual glass anyway). I fell in love with those exquisite slippers from the moment I saw them. "Mom, can I have them? Please!" I begged. Those shoes were like a dream come true to my eleven-year-old eyes.

When my Mom looked at the $100 price tag, she replied, "You'll have to pay for them yourself."

The very next morning, the horrendous cardinal woke me up around six o'clock. I sighed and went downstairs in my bare feet and nightgown, not even bothering to put in my contact lenses. My mother was awake, and the cardinal was happily pecking away. I told my mother, "I'm fed up with that bird annoying us every morning. I'm going to do something about it." I cocked the B. B.. gun and cracked the door open, so that I could silently step outside and try to shoot the bird.

Finally, the perfect moment arrived. The cardinal heard me coming and began to fly away, so I aimed in the general direction he was flying and pulled the trigger.

In that instant, a miraculous thing occurred: the bird that had caused us so much trouble and aggravation, dropped lifelessly to the ground. In utter amazement, I yelled for my mother to come outside.

"He's dead!" she exclaimed, "he's really dead!"

I was beyond being merely excited; I was absolutely ecstatic! Later that day, I proudly described to the boys who had tried so patiently to shoot the bird how I killed that cardinal with one shot. They were perturbed that a girl had bested their efforts and earned the reward. I just smiled.

I used the reward money to pay for my shoes. Those shoes became known as the "cardinal slippers." And, though the slippers are both outgrown and fallen apart, I will always look upon them as symbols of my special childhood moment of glory.