The cat is out of the bag

Actually the cats, plus the dog, and mouse are all out of the bags. Brown paper sacks, lunch size, are the starting point for these silly animals.

We can get the cats into the sacks, meeting them on the way to St. Ives.  It is a bit more tricky to get them out of the bags, so stand back!

Explanations of the idiom "letting the cat out of the bag" seem insufficient. Yes, the secret is out, but we aren't letting a worm out of a bag, or a sloth. We are letting a scared and seriously pissed off clawed maniac out of the bag.

And don't even get me started on sack-toting wives!

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits,
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many where there going to St. Ives?

These are not calico cats, nor gingham dogs. I am indebted to the parent who donated all the designer swatches for art class use, as they made perfect cat tummies and puppy ears.

Eugene Field's poem, "The Duel" tells the story of the gingham dog and the calico cat

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!

The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state

What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)
The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico...

Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats and Marjorie Flack's The Story of Ping were favorite stories on Captain Kangaroo's tv show. Children's literature fifty years ago was harsh, but also lacked the underwear and sassy attitudes of many picture books today. It was less grim than bread crumbs, hags, and frozen match girls. Spanking wayward ducks was still okay on the Yangtze River.

© 2013 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Ah, you've dislodged some wonderful childhood memories from a dusty shelf with this blog entry! And introduced me (or re-introduced me...yes, very dusty, that shelf, and very math challenged, the origami brain sitting on it)to the St. Ives poem-as-story-problem. I love these lunch sack animals and their wild recycled eyes.