Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Inaugural Iteration of Heritage Fest Was Not Derailed by the Untimely Death of Morris the Cat

But it was arguably a close call. The local paper certainly took note.

On Thursday, July 13 1978, the Ypsilanti Press reported that Morris, the beloved star of cat food commercials, had passed away in Chicago at the age of 17. The paper ran a photo showing a leonine Morris perched on "some of the hundreds of fan letters he received each week," said the caption.

A couple of days later, the paper gave a heads-up on its upcoming Sunday stories. "The death of Morris the Cat has left a void in the cat world," noted the blurb. "In his Sunday column on the Editorial Page, Managing Editor Joe Matasich tells how one local feline took the news."

On Sunday, the Press published that promised editorial. It is Dusty Diary's privilege to reprint it here in its entirety.

"When a member of the family, or a friend dies, we humans have a way of expressing our sorrow," Matasich philosophised.

"But what do you tell your household girl cat when the Clark Gable of the feline world--Morris of 9 Lives fame--kicks the bucket at the ripe old are of 17? (That's equal to 90 human years).

"Do you shake her paw? Give her more vittles? Less vittles? Write a message in the sand in her litter box?

"We checked folks out at other cat houses and it seems the problem was probably universal.

"Our snobby Motu went under the bed and sulked for hours when we broke the news that the star of TV commercials had checked out of this world.

"We offered to send a note or flowers to his owner Bob Martwick of Chicago.

"Even a pledge to offer up a Mass wouldn't budge her.

"But in true Morris style--aloof, finicky, stubborn, and independent--Motu hung in there under the bed and didn't come out until 4 a.m. when she directly walked up the patio screen.

"We took this as an indication that old cagey Morris made it Upstairs.

"Anyone who went from a mangey car rescued from an animal shelter after an alley brawl to 10 years of TV stardom just has to go on to higher things.

"Contrary to the Detroit News headline that: "Morris the cat--sorry, he didn't have 9 lives."

"Morris does live on.

"Out on the Merrill. In the heart of Motu."

"P.S. How do you explain to neighbors when your kitty slinks around with a black paw band for three days?"

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