I can’t believe I never posted this illustration I did for CFA’s Cat Talk magazine in 2015. I mean, I posted the other Persian illustration I did for Cat Talk! This drawing was done to accompany a reminiscence written by a known Himalayan breeder about the first cat show she attended. I’m a bit proud of this; I found original ads for Minqua Cattery in old Cats magazines to include in the illustration.
This is the article, written by Diane Castor, that my drawing accompanied:
My mother used to laugh and say, “Diane is my Aunt Mame reincarnated”. I used to beam as Aunt Mame was a famous cat lover and I’d nod my head with pleasure to be compared to this wonderful woman who gave me through her genes, my love for cats.
Cat breeders are not born, cat lovers are.
Suffice to say, I spent my young life in search of any cat that just might want to come and live with us. They followed me home, they turned up on our door step, they walked through the snow. Any excuse I could find, I tried. Only to meet the resistance of both my parents. “No cats.” The pestering kept up for years and finally is desperation, my father promised that when I got married and had a home of my own, he would buy any kind of cats I wanted. There, it was finally done and I shut up.
Life inched by and I finally met and married my husband, Bruce in 1960. By February 1961, I was pregnant and we bought our first house and moved from our adult apartment complex to our new home that Spring. The time had come to make the telephone call to my father.
To say that he was surprised was an understatement, but he agreed to the bargain and I found a red tabby Persian Kitten locally and promptly named him Punkin.
In the summer afternoons, I would sit on the sofa with Punkin on my belly and read. As the baby grew, so did Punkin and in late October, Bruce Jr. was born and Punkin was almost an adult. I adored him.
As any young mother knows, a bit of respite from mothering can be very beneficial to her health. In February 1962, Bruce and I decided to take a long weekend in Atlantic City and his mother would come and care for Bruce and Punkin.
Ah, freedom. Saturday morning, it looked like we were going to have to contend with rain. But we were young and willing to chance a walk on the Board Walk. As the rain fell heavier, we ducked into a small card shop and there on the window sill sat a big fat calico spay snuggled in her basket. Naturally, while petting this lovely cat, we engaged the owner in conversation. As we chatted, she told us there was a Cat Show in town in case we wanted to go. I nearly leap out of my high heeled pumps. I most certainly did want to go!
We were on the move and shortly were surrounded by cats and people. It was the most thrilling moment of my life. I was surrounded by cats in cages, on tables, on people’s laps and cats being carried over people’s arms to Judging rings. Cats of all colors and breeds. I didn’t know which way to look first. I was beside myself with joy. My cup runneth over! As we walked the aisles together, I stopped in front of a cage that held the most beautiful kitten I had ever seen! She was standing up with her paws out between the bars. She looked at me with emerald green eyes and I looked at her and my heart fell into her paws. She had to be mine. I opened the cage door and she came directly to me and into my hands. I fell in love as I held her to my heart and murmured into her ear how beautiful she was and now much I loved her. At that moment, we were alone together.
Into this moment of reverie, a hand touched my shoulder and a gentle voice said, “would you mind putting my kitten back into her cage?” My reply was, “but she loves me.”
“I can see that.” This wonderful, kind gentleman was Tom Markinke. We spent all afternoon with Tom talking about Persians. He introduced us to his wife Jane, who was clerking and by the end of Saturday, we knew we would be back the next day.
On Sunday we continued our fledgling friendship. I learned that this kitten I loved was a silver tabby Persian. Her name was Minqua’s Palmyra. I can still see her in my mind’s eye as I write. We did offer the huge sum of $150! I learned that no amount of money could by this lovely little girl as a silver tabby female was extremely rare. Palmyra was not to be mine after all.
We asked Tom to keep us informed as to where they were going to be showing so that we could come and see them again. We parted as solid new friends with a future cemented together.
Over fifty years have passed since this meeting took place. Tom and Jane Martinke have been dead for many years, but I think of them so often for their kindness to a young cat person. Now, looking back, my meeting them was the very first step in learning just how new people should be treated in the Fancy. A loving lesson I have never forgotten. I was finally learning to listen and to learn from those who knew more than I.
They continued to teach and to take us under their wing. We joined the Eastern Tabby-Tortie Club and we were able to meet other well known breeders who also took an interest in our love for the Persian.
We spent a number of years with the Martinkes before we felt comfortable buying a show kitten and in the Spring of 1967, we found just the kitten we wanted to use as our first show male. We finally had our new baby boy and his name was Jumbies Charlie Brown, a brown tabby Persian. Bred by Dr. Judith Stoyle, who was to become our closest friend until her death a few years ago. I miss her terribly.
In the fall of 1968, we registered our Cattery, Playwickey. We were ready to begin our long journey in the Fancy.