Jack Remembers: Double-edged science experiment: Cat paid the price and Jack learned a lesson

By Jack Hackley

My parents were married in December of 1928. They had no money and would go through the Depression and a drought. Both of my folks’ brothers and sisters lived within a few miles and visited frequently. They did not have financial resources to help each other as families do now, but I suppose by visiting they helped each other keep their spirits up.
My dad had a pair of hair clippers and on a Sunday if he wasn’t in the field, he would give all my boy cousins a haircut.
Because of the proximity of where we lived, I grew up knowing all my cousins quite well. Although we didn’t go to the same school, it didn’t take the cousins long to realize that Bob Hackley was the smartest of the cousins.
He would go on to work his way through college and become a chemist with a railroad in Springfield. Bob’s family lived down the road a little over a mile from us.
One day my dad went over to help his brother do something and I went in the workshop where Bob had what looked like the remains of an old wooden telephone that had a handle we used to crank to call the operator. It also had a couple of big magnets in it.
Bob said, “I need your help. I want you to turn that crank.” He had caught a barn cat and had a wire stuck on one side of the cat.
When I got that crank going as fast as I could, Bob stuck the other wire on the cat. I want you to know that cat’s eyes lit up, his hair stood on end, his tail went straight up, and so did the cat. At the same time he let out a screech that you could have heard five miles away, and out the door the cat went. Bob had electrocuted the cat.
When the cat went out the door, Bob’s older brother Junior (John L.) came in the same door and chewed us out unmercifully. As a matter of fact, 70 years later, I still remember what he said and have never been unkind to an animal since.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or

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