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Partial to home: Bet Nancy Drew could find that armadillo


Birney Imes



A couple of years ago we tried to catch the armadillo. At night he would emerge from his lair to root around in our yard for grubs. Each morning the grass looked as though a foursome of golfers had spent the night practicing their chip shots. We set a trap baited with sardines as an Internet armadillo trapper advised.  


The first night we caught Miss Prissy, our cat. She seemed nonplussed, even condescending about the episode, patiently awaiting her release. The next night yielded a raccoon, which we relocated. Eventually he moved on, and we lost interest. 


But he's back and Byron Miller, who maintains the yards of half the neighborhood and serves as our town crier, told us he saw the armadillo in plain daylight the other day. 


"He's bigggg," Byron said in his booming voice. He pointed toward the gravel alley that goes by Allen and Katherine Kerby's house. "He came from over there."  


Next time the grandkids were over talk turned to armadillos, namely our nocturnal visitor. To give everyone involved an idea of our prey, we watched a YouTube video of a domesticated armadillo playing in a tub of water. 


One site offered a list of repulsive baits -- overripe fruit, spoiled meat, old sardines. Another, a trapper boasting success in such pursuits, advised forgetting about the bait; armadillos only eat food they've dug up. You want to exploit the animal's poor eyesight and dim wits, he said. 


To that end, he suggested using boards to create a funnel of sorts leading to the trap. Put the trap in an area the armadillo visits and wait. 


The following morning a text arrived from a certain 6-year-old at 6:30 wondering if we had had any luck. Nothing. 


Same for the following night. Later that day when I stopped by the house, I noticed something had tripped the trap ... there was a raccoon tail; no, it was a coonskin cap. We had caught a coonskin cap. 


OK, who is the prankster? Beth grinned but declared innocence. I persisted in my questions, but it seemed clear, the provider of the hat came from elsewhere. 


That night I called my young accomplice. "Hey, Benjamin, we've caught a coonskin cap," I said. 


"I know," he trilled. 


"How did you know?" I asked. 


"Because we put it in there," he said, the delight evident in his voice. Ah, the innocence of a 6-year-old. 


I've removed the cap and reset the trap. Benjamin and Helen are coming over to spend the night this weekend. We'll redouble our efforts. Who knows, maybe we'll catch a buckskin jacket or a rabbit's foot this time. 


For the second time in as many weeks the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries figured in the conversation at Wednesday's Table Talk at the Columbus library. Week before last Supervisor Leroy Brooks cited his love for the Nancy Drew books as an early childhood influence. 


First, I want to express admiration for the supervisor's courage. Not every guy is secure enough in his own masculinity to admit a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries.  


Sometimes Brooks would accompany his mother, who worked in the home of Ethel Whitaker. While there the young Brooks would graze among the bookshelves of Whitaker's daughter, Robin, which were stocked with Nancy Drew mysteries. 


Hearing Leroy recount this memory brought back my own memories of the Chimney's Book Store (now a coffee house owned by Carlos Rosales) and its seemingly vast supply of Hardy Boys mysteries. I read them all. 


I suppose they were our generation's version of video games. 


Poet Catherine Pierce at the same event the following week spoke of reading Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries at her grandmother's house, the same set of books her father read. 


Pierce allowed that even now she sometimes reads the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew before bed. "It's so comforting," she said. "You always know what's going to happen."


Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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