Vol. 14


His Name Was Alfie

1967; Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas, USA"His Name Was Alfie" illustration by Nautica Fowle: Alfie the pet skunk reaches a paw into Mom's shoe as she is ironing, and scratches the bottom of her foot. Ouch!

It was 1967, and I was fifteen years old. My name is Janice Jane Pandolfi, and I was living in Memphis, Tennessee. I went to visit my grandmother in Arkansas for the summer. My great-uncle heard about some baby skunks whose mother had been killed by a dog. My sister Rebecca kept one of the baby skunks and named him after the song “What’s It All About, Alfie?”

Alfie bit Rebecca too much, so she gave him to me. Alfie was all black with a white spot on his nose, and when his tail stood straight up you could see a white line going down his tail. Alfie ate cat food, grub worms, and meat scraps, and he loved pecans. He lived in a pen in the yard. Sometimes he would come in and wander around the house.

Alfie did not like my brother, David. Alfie would stomp and do a little handstand and chase and bite David, and even though Alfie had gotten his scent gland removed, he would still act like he was going to spray him. Alfie also didn’t like my dad, because one cold night my dad was going to bring Alfie in so he wouldn’t freeze. When he picked Alfie up, Dad slipped and Alfie sailed through the air into a puddle of cold water. Alfie never forgave him.

Alfie liked to be grabbed by the legs and flung down the hallway — he’d slide on his back like a hockey puck, and run back so he could go again. One time when Alfie wanted to play but my mom was ironing, he hid under the couch and wrapped his hands around her ankle and slipped one hand into her shoe and scratched the bottom of her foot really hard. When she jumped up, he ran away.

Alfie was like a cat and a dog in one, because he was soft and cuddly like a cat and he used a litterbox, but he also liked to go for rides and stick his head out the car window. Once I took Alfie to school, and he got his picture taken. He ended up in the yearbook! One day he got out of his cage and ran away. Later a car pulled up in our driveway, and the people said, “We think we have your skunk.”

I said, “I sure hope that’s my skunk!” It was! Alfie was in the back seat playing with their kids. He looked at me with his soft blinky face, innocent as a daisy on a spring day.

Alfie was really playful. You might not think so, but a skunk is a very good pet to have. Alfie lived for thirteen years. I will never forget him.

Elizabeth Merrill, granddaughter of Janice; Missouri, USA

Illustrator: Nautica Fowle; Missouri, USA



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