It was in June 1971 that my pet kitten, Kitty, became very sick. For over a year she had lived in the Bronx slum apartment with me or my Summer 1970 sublet tenants and been allowed to go outside and up and down on the fire escape near my kitchen window, when the weather was warm. But when I noticed that she was suddenly getting very thin and fragile-looking, I looked in the yellow pages phone book and found the address for a Bideawee animal clinic on Manhattan’s East Side.
After putting Kitty in a cat-carrying box I had, taking the subway down to the animal clinic and having to wait in the waiting room to see the vet for nearly an hour and a half, I finally was able to have Kitty examined by the vet in his office. After examining Kitty, the vet indicated that Kitty had caught some kind of cat disease and that there was only a slight chance that Kitty would be able to live if she received more medical care. And that this medical care for her would be very expensive to obtain.
Since I had no savings and expected income other than possibly being declared permanently eligible to start receiving regularly a monthly home relief welfare check in July 1971, both the vet and I agreed that the most merciful thing to do was to bring Kitty to the ASPCA and put her out of her misery.
I felt very sad after hearing the vet’s diagnosis. And I felt especially sad when I returned to my Bronx apartment with Kitty and then walked south from my neighborhood for many blocks until I reached the Bronx ASCPA-affiliated facility, said goodbye to Kitty, handed Kitty to the security guard-receptionist, and then walked back uptown to my apartment.
The experience of being too economically impoverished to even have the option of even attempting to save Kitty’s life by bringing her to a vet--who would only work to try saving her if given money up-front—provided me with yet another reason for wanting to transform radically a U.S. capitalist system in which impoverished working-class people were enslaved and trapped at the bottom of a classist U.S. society just because they were born into U.S. working-class families who were neither rich nor the recipients of inherited class economic, political and cultural privileges.
While waiting such a long time at the Bideawee clinic to see the vet, I had passed nearly three-quarters of the time conversing in an animated with an African-American woman in her twenties who, with her older sister, had also come to see the vet in order to have her cat (who was older than Kitty) examined. Unlike Kitty, her pet cat was not ill in any serious way. But while talking with each other, both the African-American woman and I seemed to feel some initial love vibrations beginning to flow between us. And we seemed to be on the same wavelength, somewhat, philosophically—although she was more into health foods and new age stuff than was I.
So before I left the Bideawee animal clinic, she was not reluctant to give me her phone number and invite me to phone her later in the week at the Harlem apartment which she apparently shared with her older sister. But although she was still very friendly over the telephone when I called her at the end of the week, between the time I said goodbye to her at the Bideawee clinic waiting room and the time I telephoned her, she (or perhaps her sister) had developed second thoughts about her possibly getting involved emotionally or romantically with me. And after our friendly telephone conversation of about 15 minutes, my feeling was that it made no sense to ask her for some kind of a date to go down to the Village or hang out in Central Park—especially since I was beginning to suspect that the welfare department caseworker/investigator who had visited me in early June 1971 was going to deny me home relief benefits (because he apparently resented the fact that hip white youths who collected home relief seemed to feel more free and less personally frustrated than he felt working in his 9-to-5 welfare department caseworker/investigator straight job) and I then would be facing possible starvation or eviction within a month or two.