For the Birds Radio Program: Autobiography of a Blue Jay Hater
The moment we aired an advertisement from the fictitious Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, (up the shore a ways) on our last program, Blue Jay haters started coming out of the woodwork in droves, asking for equal time. In the interest of fair play, today I’ll read you the autobiography of one True Blue Jay Hater and how she came to hate Blue Jays so much. This is a factual story, mostly, as told by one Miss Havisham, who doesn’t give her first name. She writes:
I grew up in the woods of northern Wisconsin. I never thought much about those cussed jay birds in my younger days. Sure, they were noisy, pesky critters, and once I saw one fly off with a helpless baby robin. I didn’t mind so much because I figured what’s one robin more or less stealing our cherries.
I do remember thinking that Blue Jay intelligence was vastly overrated. I had an old piece of slate that I used for practicing my numbers. One morning I left it out on the porch with the problem 2+2 while I took a hike to the outhouse. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I came back and there sat an old jay holding my chalk in its beak. It’d written the answer just as neat as pie—2+2=3. Nope—jays are not as smart as they’re cracked up to be.
Well, we had one jay on our property that was right taken by glittery things. If I dropped a bright button or a shiny piece of foil, he’d swoop down as fast as you could say Jack Robinson and off he’d fly with it. One time he carried off my daddy’s pocket watch. We found it up in his nest the next spring. The watch didn’t work so good after that, but truth to tell, it never had kept good time. We could keep track of that old jay because his mama’d built her nest in a spruce branch overlooking the sunporch. My daddy watched this one pip out of the egg. As soon as it was dry, he tied a red string around its leg. Thereafter, we always called that jay Pip.
Well, anyway, being no ornithologist, I pretty much ignored Pip and other birds throughout my youth. It wasn’t until I was seventeen and being courted by Mr. Tommy Malone that I started despising and hating Blue Jays, and that old Pip most of all.
Tommy and me—we was set to be married in the spring of ought six. He’d made a pile of gold on some railroad business, and now he was ready to settle down. He spent a whole year building us a house we could be right proud of. And it was a beauty—Tommy came from the south originally and patterned it on some big plantation houses.
Well, the day came that our house was finished and all our furnishings arranged just so. Our wedding was set for a fortnight later, and Tommy went down to Georgia to fetch his family for the doings. He gave me the one and only house key for safekeeping whilst he was gone.
My but it was a shiny gold key—a fittin’ key for such a grand house. I was admiring it rocking out on the porch on the eve of my wedding, filled with great expectations, when the yell of that blasted Pip startled me so that I dropped the key to the grass below. And danged if that little dickens didn’t get to it quicker than I could—he flew off with that key in his beak and I never saw hide nor hair of him again.
Well, sir, an hour later Tommy rode in with his family, but naturally he wasn’t about to marry me without that key. We searched high and low—checked out every Blue Jay nest for five counties, but that key was gone for good. Before he rode out of my life forever, Tommy gave me title to the land and the house, but what good is the finest mansion without a front door key?
With my bare hands, I built me a log cabin here in the shadow of that big empty house that is rightfully mine. And here I’ve sat in my wedding dress, rocking away the years with thoughts of that jay named Pip sticking in my craw, staring through those there dining room windows for nigh on eighty-five years now, studying my fine china dishes and my wedding cake still setting on that fancy mahogany table, just a stone’s throw from where I sit, but locked away forever.
Blue Jays? I’ll hate every one of ‘em till the day I die.