Monday, June 25, 2018

The Saga of “Chestie”

by Erin Doane, Curator

On the morning of July 25, 1940, a half-grown gray kitten strolled into the offices of the Community Chest, located in the Federation Building in Elmira. Undeterred by the summer heat and humidity, the kitten frisked away the hours. At the end of the day, janitor Thomas Rutzke gave him sleeping quarters in the building’s boiler room. Two days later, Miss Thelma Ewald of the secretarial staff added the newly-dubbed “Chestie” the kitten to the Community Chest rolls. A photographer from the Elmira Star-Gazette was there to capture the momentous event.

Miss Thelma Ewald and “Chestie,” Elmira Star-Gazette, July 27, 1940
Just days later, calamity struck the staff of the Community Chest. A headline on the front page of the second section of the Star-Gazette at the very bottom of the page read: “Anybody Seen ‘Chestie’? He’s Strayed.” By August 8, when the article ran, “Chestie” had been missing for almost a week. He was last seen by Thomas Rutzke when he put the kitten to bed in the boiler room after a long day of sleeping on files in the office and following the janitor around the building on his duties. James Harper of the Community Chest offices conducted a thorough search of the neighboring alley and byways but was unable to find any trace of “Chestie.”

Elmira Star-Gazette, August 21, 1940
On August 19, a half-grown gray kitten strolled into Elmira City Hall. William G. Morrison, manager of the auditing division of the City Welfare Department arrived at his office that morning and found the kitten asleep in Joseph F. Kienzle’s chair. Various staff members at City Hall, including dietician Mrs. Ruby B. Brewin, took to feeding the cat milk, dog food, and ice cream. They called him “Fifi” and “Jerome” but staff at the Community Chest were sure that he was actually their “Chestie.” The secretaries were particularly anxious for the return of their adopted pet. A Star-Gazette reporter went to City Hall to find out the truth and interview the cat but he disappeared into the neighborhood of the Meat Inspecting Department before the reporter arrived.

Elmira Star-Gazette, August 21, 1940
Unfortunately, there was no further articles about the stray kitten’s saga. Did “Cestie” return to the Community Chest? Did he live out his days as a beloved pet at City Hall? Did he move on to another building and collect another set of office parents? The world may never know.

1 comment:

  1. know how cats are they own you not you own them.....