Note: Millie, a beloved mid-sized former stray, belonged to my sister and family for years. The kids shared stories of Millie with me when I went to help out with the birth of twins in the household. Millie accompanied me down the winding driveway to retrieve the kids off the bus in the afternoons, and quietly settled in the garage in the evenings. My nephew and I began weaving tales based upon real life accounts of Millie’s wanderings. Although Millie is no longer with us physically, she will remain forever in our hearts!
Millie Tales….Tale #1
Millie LaFleur….from the sound of her name, you might think she is of a royal French ruling class. Perhaps an heiress of great fortune from some Canadian province or such. What would you think if you knew that Millie is actually short for Mildred Malone LaFleur? Hmmm, now that changes your perception somewhat, doesn’t it? Funny how names can have that effect. And rightly so in this case.
Mildred Malone was a spinster…that’s right, she never married, never spawned offspring, as far as anyone knew. She herself was an orphan, cast off along the side of a highway with her brothers and sisters in a rural area of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Adopted by a noble family of four, which later became six, Millie soon came to serve in the employ of a rather large estate on Fourth Street. Within a few years of work, she found herself confined to the garage quarters due to a nasty bout of gastroenteritis that visited itself upon her on a semi-regular basis. Lady Esther and Lord Adrian, the eldest children of the owners of the estate, reported yellow clouds of foul smelling gas following Miss Mildred around, especially in the out of doors where the winds could easily wisp it away. That report alone was not enough for Master Douglas and Madam Luisa to cast the poor creature out, but what transpired one October morning just about did the the trick.
It was a breezy Tuesday morning. Mildred Malone was spotted on the long drive chewing on what appeared to be a skunk jaw bone complete with teeth still intact. A visitor of the Manor, who happened to be the sister of Madam Louisa, spotted her and thinking she surely must be mad, chased her down the drive and into some nearby woods, where the old gal stopped within eyeshot and continued chewing until she had gulped it down in its entirety, molars and all. The gardener, upon hearing about it, just shrugged it off, saying he’d seen worse. Lord Adrian simply said that those teeth would surely hurt coming out the other end!
Perhaps it was the pain of eliminating the molars or maybe a bout of bad humor, but Miss Millie decided it was time to head south toward Texas where an old aunt of hers lived, or so she’d heard.
Millie Tale #2
Back in early February of 1836, Millie began working as Mildred Malone, a fancy dancer in a San Antonio, Texas saloon. There she met and fell in love with a young man from Tennessee named Davy Crockett. Crockett traveled to Texas, he told her, to join the Texas Revolution and be a part of the battle for Texas Independence at the Alamo. Davy loved Millie so much that he made her a fox fur jacket that she immediately began wearing every day as a sign of her devotion to this tall gentleman who himself wore a coonskin cap with a raccoon tail hanging down. When the Mexican General Santa Anna’s army overcame the men and women fighting for Texas’ independence, it came at great cost to the Texas fighters. Millie was crushed to hear that Davy was one of the casualties of that thirteen day battle. It was then that she packed her belongings and headed back to Kalamazoo, the only other home she had known, refusing to take off that coat no matter the weather…
Millie Tale #3
Millie’s good fortune led her from a homeless state along the roadside to the estate of Master Douglas and Madam Louisa LaFleur. She instantly settled in as a member of the family, being given the duties of overseer of the estate. Initially her quarters were situated in the main parlor of the house and were quite lavish compared to the small curtained cubby she was allotted at the saloon. The two bowls she brought with her from San Antonio shone beautifully against the alabaster tiles of her private room, a room fully lit by sky lights and windows at the manor. But the worries of her past wrought an unfavorable physical condition in which gastroenteritis took over, necessitating an immediate shift in quarters. Mildred was quietly and quickly moved to the garage area of the estate. This so affected Millie that, in a fit of disgust—partly for her own afflictions, but also for the matter of not being consulted, she decided to leave, to run away.
Her interlude, two houses down, didn’t last but two days, whereupon the owners of that estate begged and pleaded with her to accept her condition and be grateful for what she had. Unbeknownst to Mildred, the stench became too much for her new masters to bear. For they lived in a slight valley where air doesn’t move as freely as in other places. The air inversion almost killed one of their yard men who was found by a passerby lying face down in a culvert. The last thing the young man remembered seeing was Millie taking her morning stroll being followed by a yellowish cloud.
In any event, Millie soon returned to her former estate, though somewhat reluctantly. Still suffering from the melancholy of losing her beloved Davy at the Alamo, she vowed to pluck out a hair from her coat every time she thought of him. The nuisance of these hairs in her quarters caused a bit of contention, but Master Douglas felt that Miss Millie was in no condition to pick a fight.
Millie Tale #4
Every time Master Douglas and Madam Louisa went on a small journey with family, Miss Millie was left in the garage of some local fellow’s house. One of those fellows, a Mr. Bently, bathed her daily with men’s shampoo and conditioner on account of a stench that his wife complained about incessantly. Millie detested these daily sudsings and shook the water and soap off on Mr. Bently as often as she could in protest. One year, Millie Malone was left for ten days. Those were the worst days of her life! Especially when she found out she would be staying with that cur, Mr. Bently. She could hardly lie down in his garage and smell herself! The flowery odor caused great headaches, took her hunger away, and she began to wither in size. Her small frame began to look even smaller when smothered in the luxurious fur of Davy’s coat. Master Adrian and his sister Esther vowed that Millie should never stay with the Bentlys again! Master Douglas thought he saw a sly smile come across his neighbor’s face as he thanked him and stated that they probably wouldn’t be needing their services ever again. Madam Louisa shrieked upon seeing the skeletal state of poor Miss Mildred upon her return to the manor. “That will be quite enough of that treatment, Millie my dear!” she promised.
Millie Tale #5
Five years later, the time came for another family vacation. As soon as Millie heard the planning discussions begin, she crawled under the kitchen table, whimpered, plucked more hairs out, and refused to join the family. Madam Louisa assured her that they would find suitable and more comfortable quarters for her during their absence. Millie would stay with a loyal friend who would give her more opportunities for exercise, no baths, and where she could even attend a barn dance and meet some of the locals. It couldn’t have been more perfect for her. Millie began to reminisce of her days in San Antonio at the inn!
As the LaFleur family enjoyed their vacation in Northern Missouri, Miss Millie was enjoying a time of romping in the woods, dancing to the full moon with neighborhood folks, and even swamp jumping. For one small minute, she thought she might need a bath, but then shrugged it off and ran on into a neighbor’s blackberry patch. That same night, Miss Millie happened to be returning from a gathering about a mile down the road when she heard a fierce clucking of chickens and the rustling sound of animals in distress. She ran over to find a possum slipping out of a fence with two chickens—one wrapped in its long, pink tail, and another in its pointy little mouth. When the possum saw Millie, he took off as fast as his short little legs could scamper. Millie was blinded by the feathers coming off this way and that, creating a white road of feathers about a foot and a half wide and two inches deep! It was dusk and getting darker, so Millie ran into the nearby woods with a plan to intercept the possum about a quarter mile down the way. Just as she saw the possum approaching a ditch, she ran up and growled, showing her teeth, with glinty eyes looking ready to attack. She poked her nose toward the possum at which the possum dropped the one chicken held by his tail, which it promptly used to whip Millie across the nose. Millie let out a yelp, but further pushed the possum with her sore nose until the possum dropped the second chicken being held in its mouth. The two began spitting, growling, and fighting with each other, rolling in the dirt by the light of the full moon. Millie eventually managed to scare the possum off so that it skittered into the drainage ditch without either of its stolen chickens. The chickens lay lifeless in spite of Millie’s nudging. She began turning them over and over in an attempt to get them to get up so they could run back home. But it was all too much excitement for them. Plus the possum had held them much too tightly for too long. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the crack of a gun shot rang out. Millie fell down next to the chickens, feathers flying up. “Dag nabbed chicken thief. That’ll teach you!” An old man in dusty overalls and a cowboy hat walked up, grabbed his two chickens, and stomped back down the path, never once glancing back to check on dear Millie.
A day later, dear Miss Millie’s lifeless form was found in the deep woods of Boone, Michigan surrounded by a halo of chicken feathers. A small bullet hole had pierced the beautiful coat that she had received so many years before from her one true love, Davy Crockett. Her host family mourned her death for many days, but buried her as soon as possible on account of the one thing that kept Miss Millie so memorable to so many: her stench. It seemed that she was unaware of it and yet, when it was taken away from her, she was sadder than ever before. Everyone who knew and loved dear Millie agreed, there would never be a sweeter, more dedicated, and pungent adventurer than Miss Mildred Malone. She lived life to the fullest and never saw a dull day!
So when Miss Millie’s twin daughters showed up from San Antonio for their mother’s funeral, the LaFleurs and everyone else were shocked beyond belief!! There was more to Miss Millie than anyone had yet discovered…..