Pioneer Potluck: The kitties at Rick’s Ranch

  • By Ann 'Grannie Annie' Berg
  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 1:19pm
  • LifeFood

A one-bedroom log cabin

North Nikiski


I had rescued a teeny, tiny little gray-black kitty from the alley behind the old Rig Bar in Kenai. He was so tiny that I fed him with a doll baby bottle. He had a little tiny, kinky, cork-screw tail. He thrived and when someone in Susan’s family said they loved kitties, I gave him to them to love and play with. Porter named him Romeo. Then the promptly packed up and moved to Fairbanks. I still recall the day very well. The black Ford pickup with a camper shell, hooked up to the big fishing boat. The last details before heading out, was putting Joe and Michael in the front seat while Porter and Susan climbed in the camper shell with Lady, the white doggie, and Romeo the kitty. I stood there waving good-bye and wondering when I would get to see them again. Fairbanks was an 8-hour drive from here!

After settling in Fairbanks, Susan called me one day and few months later. She said Romeo was Juliet and the she had had kitties. Would we like one or two?

Bob often talked about the kitties he had when he was growing up, so for his birthday in April, Susan brought him two kitties. He named them Frick and Frack and he carried them around in his shirt pockets. They had kinky cork-screw tails. The grew, they played, they ate, they played and slept with our Penny-dog. One day they multiplied and they each had 10 small tiny fluffy kitties under the front step of the cabin. Some of them had kinky cork-screw tails.

To keep the squirming, climbing, crawling 20 kitties in control, the two mommas laid down and formed a circle, nose to nose and toes to toes, and all the kitties were in the middle. I do have pictures of this that I hope I can find. Kitties were not to particular which Momma fed them and I do not think the Mommas knew or cared either. The statement “one happy family” always came to mind when we watched them.

As kitties do, they grow, they get cuter, they crawl into your heart and you say to yourself, you cannot keep and feed all these kitties — you have to give some away! But which ones? We settled on two that we could not possible give away. They had kicky curly-cork-screw tails. I typed a sign and hung it in the post office. “Cute 7-week-old healthy kitties to give away to GOOD HOMES.” I got calls from some of my friends and some people I did not know. I told everyone that they needed a good loving home and if they could not take care of them in the future I would come and get them. We gave all of them away in a matter of days. Everyone we knew wanted a “Bob and Ann Kitty.” This was in 1986.

Our kitty population diminished and we just had two momma kitties and two baby kitties. They slept with Penny-dog — all four of them. We cannot remember what Bob named those two, as it has been almost 30 years! We did learn that Orphan Melvin was the Daddy of the kitties. He was black. He came to stay and took up residence on top of the cat pole that Bob built just inside the doorway of the cabin. We found out later that he was a neighbor’s cat that abandoned his home for ours.

Through the years we have had more kitties that we gave away to good homes. And at times, repeat requests for the next generation of kitties, as some kitties met the fate of eagles and some just wanted another kitty. The future generations of Romeo-Juliet, Frick and Frack and Orphan Melvin kitties, the kinky curly cork screw tails got fewer. Now our kitties do not have any of that trait.

Some of the names Bob gave our of the kitties, as Frick and Frack had two more litters, before we could afford to have them fixed, were, Pee Wee, Emerelda — she had green eyes, Goggalina — Gog for short, as she loved Bob and followed him around like a dog. And a very nice yellow (grandson Arleigh called him “lellow-cat”) named Fritz. He was a very nice yellow striped cat that at times did not know he was a cat. If Bob sat down he was in Bob’s lap and then on his shoulder to settle and sleep until Bob moved.

Most all the kitties that were born later, were born in our new house that Bob built. Bob carried most of them around in his shirt pockets. Penny let them crawl all over her. Ann did the feeding and the hard task of giving them away. I took them to their new homes, I took them to the post office to meet the new caretaker. I took them to town to get shots and get fixed. Very seldom did I go out of the drive way without a kitty or two in the cat carrier. I came home many times with tears in my eyes.

One little white kitty we named Snuffy, Goggalina was his momma, was born with a cleft palette. He had all the markings of a Siamese. Cute little pink, pug nose and a slightly curly tail. I fed him from the very first day of his life with a small eye dropper. When his tummy was full he was look at you and sneeze. Some of the milk would come out his nose. We would wipe his nose and he would curl up and go to sleep. We carried him everywhere. Bob kept him in his shirt pocket. I came home from work and feed him every four hours from a larger eye dropper, then a baby bottle. Because he could not suck, we would put the bottle in the corner of his mouth and he would chew and swallow. Some of the milk went up his nose — always. He would sneeze and look up for Bob or me to wipe his nose. We had so much fun with him. I took him to the vet. The vet said his is growing and healthy, just keep doing what you are doing. Snuffy got so he could manage soft canned, cat food. Where there was a will, he found a way to eat. When we came home at night, Snuffy was right at our feet, waiting for us to feed him. When we sat down, Snuffy was right in our face. Snuffy slept with us. Snuffy was a good companion.

He was about a year old, when we wanted to go to see our grandson, Michael graduate from high school at North Pole. It was in the spring and warm and our 4 or 6 or so cats were outdoor cats during the day, so was Snuffy by then. We made arrangements for a neighbor to feed them. We were going to be gone three days. We had a grand time in Fairbanks! When we got home, all the kitties greeted us but Emerelda and Snuffy. We waited for days and called and looked everywhere. It was lonesome without Snuffy! We finally did not have to dodge Emmers (short for Emerelda) when we walked by her as she perched on the back of Bob’s Velcro Chair. She would reach out with her paw and smack ya. When Grey was a year old, she would reach down and smack him twice and retreat with a claw full of fluffy white Grey-hair. Grey would scold and shake his finger at her — “no more Emmers, NO MORE!” We missed them both!

Our kitty population, now is 5 grown kitties. Oliver was 17 when he went to kitty heaven. He was a nice striped gray kitty that never bothered anyone. Bootzee is now 21 years old and a little like a cranky old lady if she does not get her morning milk or yogurt. She has to sit in my lap or Bob’s every night. Mr. Big (age 7) has adopted me and follows me around everywhere. He waits for me at the sewing-computer room door to let him in and sleeps on “his” chair all day in here. Mr. Little (Mr. Bigs’ brother, age 7) is Bob’s cat and has Emerelda’s personality. He will let you pet him twice, but the third time he will smack ya. Our two mostly black and with white markings, kitties, Sam and Beau are big fluffy, floppy-cats. They flop down in front of you so you have to pet them. They are 6 years old. Bob and Lily nick-named them “Sammy-Alabammie and Beau-Beau.” All are potty trrained to go to the door, meow and I let them out doors. Nice.

Penny-dog lived to be14. Sadie — we have no idea how old she was — went and joined Penny in doggie heaven about three years ago. I bet you that kitty and doggie heaven are not to far apart!

This story about kitties will always be a part of Bob and my life. We cannot imagine not having cats and dogs around us. Life would be so boring!


The Grannie Annie series is written by longtime Nikiski resident Ann Berg. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Downtime

Now here we are, two-thirds of the way through the longest month of the year

Robert “Bob” Huttle, posing here next to Cliff House, spent the night in this cabin in April 1934 and mused about a possible murder there. (Photo courtesy of the Huttle Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 2

How much of the doctor’s actions Bob Huttle knew when he stayed in Cliff House 10 years later is difficult to know.

Achieving the crispy, flaky layers of golden goodness of a croissant require precision and skill. (Photo by Tresa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Reaching the pinnacle of patisserie

Croissants take precision and skill, but the results can be delightful

This 1940s-era image is one of few early photographs of Cliff House, which once stood near the head of Tustumena Lake. (Photo courtesy of the Secora Collection)
Twists and turns in the history of Cliff House — Part 1

Here, then, is the story of Cliff House, as least as I know it now.

Minister’s Message: What’s in a name?

The Scriptures advise, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Visitors put on personal protective equipment before an artist talk by Dr. Sami Ali' at the Jan. 7, 2022, First Friday opening of her exhibit, "The Mind of a Healthcare Worker During the COVID-19 Pandemic," at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
ER doctor’s paintings follow passage of pandemic

Dr. Sami Ali made 2019 resolution to paint every day — and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Almond flour adds a nuttiness to this carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: A ‘perfect day’ cake

Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting make for a truly delicious day off

Minister’s Message: A prayer pulled from the ashes

“In that beleaguered and beautiful land, the prayer endures.”

A copy of “The Year of Magical Thinking” by author Joan Didion is displayed on an e-reader. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Didion’s “Year of Magical Thinking” is a timely study on grief

‘The last week of 2021 felt like a good time to pick up one of her books.’

Megan Pacer / Homer News
Artist Asia Freeman, third from left, speaks to visitors on Nov. 1, 2019, at a First Friday art exhibit opening at Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer.
Freeman wins Governor’s Arts Humanities Award

Bunnell Street Arts Center artistic director is one of nine honored.

Zirrus VanDevere’s pieces are displayed at the Kenai Art Center on Jan. 4, 2022. (Courtesy Alex Rydlinski)
A journey of healing

VanDevere mixes shape, color and dimension in emotional show