Stories of Akron

Cat Chute and Bowling

If I had YouTube when I was 12, I could have been a millionaire.

My parent’s house in Akron, Ohio was full of fucking cats. I take that back, only the one, big, fat, white, mama cat was doing all the fucking.

At one point we had 5 kids, 3 dogs and 15 cats (two litters of kittens about 3 months apart — some full-grown children of the mama, and the welfare queen herself).

We also had a two laundry chutes — one from the first floor, the other from the second that dropped into the basement laundry room. You could stuff a basket of laundry or a bunch of sheets into those chutes — stick your head in and watch it plummet to the basement.

Or you could round up a few of those cats,  shove them into the chutes and watch them slide and scratch all the way down.

We used the first floor chute as the starter set. It was only about a 7-foot-drop to the soft pile of clothes below. It was rectangular and wide, so the sides of the chute didn’t get the fur all covered in static.

The cats who liked the starter shoot, graduated to the 25-foot-drop in the small circular tube from the second floor. A big strong cat could push off the sides and “wedge” it’s back in that tube like a free-climber going up the cracks at El Capitan. But the sides were too slick.  Eventually, resignation would fill their little yellow eyes as gravity pulled them to the bottom of the dirty clothes pile.

Falling cats would have made some awesome videos. But in the 70’s, we never owned a camera. With these fucking smart phones, I could have put my little brother at the bottom for the second angle to shoot up and see the landing.

We could have done a fast sequence shot. Line up 6-10 of those little bastards and let ’em take a ride on the laundry slide. Imagine the hits that 10-second video would get.

When we got bored with the chute, we had two flat options. The wood floors in the living room had a layer of clear varnish. If you grabbed a cat by the legs and slid them on their side, you could “bowl” them down a lane of about 10 feet.

But there were a bunch of small carpets and throw rugs, furniture and crap that screwed up half your good throws.

The kitchen floor was much better. A solid piece of vinyl that was as slick as snot.

We set up targets about 20 feet down the long narrow passage. I got pretty good at spin, so the cat would do three-360-degree turns, go around the table leg and hit the stereo speaker.

If you got too close to the cabinets, the cats would reach out and claw it, stop their momentum and recover from the slide. That’s an embarrassing gutter throw, when the “ball” gets up, shakes off the static electricity and saunters away with tail held high just to show you its asshole.

None of the cats really liked bowling, but a couple loved the laundry chute. The only cat I really liked “Killer” (because he killed every bird, rodent or mouse in the yard) would come up to the second floor and rub against the laundry chute door waiting for me to open it and drop him in.

A couple of them hated the laundry chute, and those were the best. You would hear the scratching at the top as they tried to scramble out, and a little howl would get quieter and quieter as they faded down the chute. AAAAaaaaaahhhh…

That shit would have been YouTube gold…

For those of you concerned about cat welfare or that we were abusing those animals, none of them ever got hurt from sliding to the soft pile of laundry or bowling across the floor.

Too bad I can’t say the same about my brothers and sisters or neighborhood friends who broke bones, got concussions or dislocated hips (Eric). We spent a lot of time jumping off the garage or landing on the sidewalk or “walking into” a shoe that just happened to be thrown across the room…

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