Ernest the Cat, the white feline who for many years famously ruled the roost at the corner of 42nd and Blaine, died near the end of May of natural causes. His age was undetermined, as he had arrived in the neighborhood as a stray; but he had been in charge of that particular corner for as long as many of us can remember.
Ernest was known for his imperturbable manner and inherent good sense. He never allowed himself to appear discombobulated by the sudden arrival within his domain of big dogs or other potential threats, though occasionally he might have been seen to back away very slowly or arch his back if things were about to get out of hand. He knew when to pick his fights, standing his ground in the apparent knowledge that he had pretty big claws. But he wasn’t imprudent. He was known to use the crosswalk, for example, when getting across Madison Street.
Ernest, who was the subject of an admiring profile in the Madison Park Times last year, was gracious to those who frequented the shops and businesses over which he ruled. These included the Madison Park Café, in whose courtyard he often sunbathed on a pleasant afternoon, and Best Buds, where he was often seen admiring the flowers or pretending to be a garden ornament. Ernest developed a reputation as an enthusiastic greeter of delivery trucks to these and other neighborhood establishments, particularly appreciating the driver who was smart enough to arrive with cat nip on board.
Ernest’s primary place of abode was at Joan Kruse Rogers Design (1803b 42nd Avenue E.), where he generally began and ended his busy days. He took daily walks about the neighborhood with Rogers, greeting his many friends and admirers along the way. But if Rogers wasn’t available and Ernest was in the mood for a jaunt, he didn’t mind roaming the surrounding blocks on his own. Occasionally, when feline friends were not able to come out and visit him as he meandered by, he would find a way to come in and visit them—even if it meant entering their house through the dryer vent.
Ernest could often be spotted surveying his domain from the raised ivy bed in front of his residence, which proved to be an excellent central location from which to get noticed and appreciated by the many passers-by, especially on warm summer days. While some may have found Ernest to be a bit aloof at times, those who knew him best remember him as a cat who was simply comfortable with himself. He was his own cat. And the place will just not seem the same without him.
[Photos courtesy of Joan Rogers]