Monday, February 22, 2010

From the Past-Prance of Mankin Ave. Beckley, WV

This is the story of Prance of Mankin Ave, Beckly, West Virginia, in the era around 1963-1968 approximately, give or take a little bit.  Prance was born to a sheltie or sheltie-collie mother in Pineville, WV, probably around 1963.  Bobby Smith, about 7th grade in those days, had the mother dog, and claimed that the father was a Boxer.  That fits since she has Boxer colors, and looked vaguely like a short coat Collie or Border Collie.  Prance was adopted by the Cornett family in Pinville as a pup.  Since she obviously did not have an AKC pedigree, to raise her status, we named her "Sir Prance a Lot"  like "Lance a Lot"  get it!! However,  she was not a sir, but a madam, and that name went by the wayside before long.

Within a year or two of her assimilation into the Cornett household of 6 kids and 2 parents, everyone uprooted and moved (back to) Beckley, West Virginia.  Prance came along to the old homestead on Mankin Ave, the second time there actually.  It was not much more than a 50s type subdivision for middle-class people called the Bowling Addition. 

But, back to Prance.  She lived in a dog house behind the house, and to keep her around, she was chained to the house---yes, chained!!---mostly only overnight, to keep her from roaming the neighborhood.  This fancy dog house had two compartments,  an elegant entry way, and a larger bedroom with a large door that was latched, and it was always kept comfortable inside with straw that was changed about every couple of months.  There was also a small attic in the top of this little dog house, you could lift the top and prop it open in the summer time to keep it ventilated.  Quite a sophisticated dog house for anytime, much less for 1964 or so.  One morning I woke up to the radio announcement that the temperature had dropped to 24 below zero.  I panicked, scrambled into my clothes and rushed out the back door to the dog house thinking that Prance would have frozen to death.  No, she came romping out of her little botique dog house tail wagging and frisking around.  We nevertheless, brought her into the main house for the next few days.
Neighborhood Kids with Prance, 1964.  Also, the pug that lived with Harry Evans and family. This is a classic photo of small town living in the mid 1960s, the early edge of the baby boom generation.  Despite living in the somewhat isolated coal fields of Southern West Virginia, we were not all that far removed from mainstream American culture.
Dennis Miller, 1965.  Dennis was the one in the nieghborhood who really loved Prance.  She was up at his house constantly, much to the consternation of his primary keepers, the Cornetts.  Well, not really consternation, but it was true that she was hard to keep around the house for a variety of reasons,  including going to the Millers for table scraps and treats and lots of attention,  being one of them.

Obviously, Prance was willing to go where ever she could get something to eat.  She was certainly not underfed. She ate Pard canned dog food.  But, an ice cream cone has a special appeal.

This is on the front porch at Jeff and Dennis Miller's house, a very
creative rendition from 1965, a picture of their cousin from Pittsburgh
taking a picture of Prance.  Prance was a real attention getter! 

And Dennis again, with Prance, in front of their garage, also 1965. 

Jeff Miller, brother of Dennis, has retained quite a collection of photos from the Mankin Ave days, including all of the pics of Prance because she was at their house a lot. In fact, I understand that despite the prohibition on dogs in the house imposed by their mom, Prance managed to make it up to their 2nd- 3rd floor bedrooms on occasion.

Prance also accompanied me on my paper route, especially for the early Saturday and Sunday morning deliveries. I was the only person out that early in the morning and I was glad to have her along with me.

But, again, she was off on her own, exploring from house to house, disappearing into backyards, and inevitably she would find what she was looking for, a cat, which she would proceed to chase, it would run up a tree and she would sit there and bark at it at 5:30 in the morning. I did actually hear from a few paper customers complaining about that little annoyance.

One other predatory encounter with Prance was in the dog pen in the backyard of Sam Caseino's house. There was a rather large rat living under the doghouse. Sam and I turned the house over, let Prance go and she dug relentlessly until finally it scrambled out, she grabbed it by the nape of the neck, shook it, put it down, it bit her on the toe, she yelped, picked it up, and finished it off with more furious shaking.


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