My brother Brad had a pet Easter rabbit. He used to let it out of it's cage to graze on our suburban lawn. It occurred to me that raising rabbits to supply pets for our neighborhood could be a great business. My amused parents reminded me that we lived in a suburban neighborhood. Aroused by such schemes as pictured, an odyssey was about to commence.
I proposed my idea to Mrs. Naomi Lennox to let me use some of her wooded property for the rabbitry. Mrs. Lennox had grown up on the farm that was now our suburban development. Fancy chickens were her passion. She agreed and was most encouraging. Regis Patter's father raised New Zealand Reds. Mr. Patter saw me as an opportunity to divest himself of his rabbits and cages. He lived over the ridge in Beadling, a former mining community. Things were coming together.
Soon I was investigating rabbit breeders outside our suburban community. One breeder, Robert Sanner was located across from the former Peters Twp. High School which was also transforming from a rural to suburban area. On one occasion, my brother accompanied me. Parking in the back of the house, we were greeted by Mrs. Sanner emerging from the basement in a blood soaked apron and holding a large knife. She was butchering rabbits in the basement. The blood-spattered lone ceiling bulb in the basement dimly illuminated the carnage of rabbit carcasses hanging from the clothesline and rabbit heads clogging the floor drain. She told us to wait upstairs in the living room as Mr. Sanner was away on an errand.
We entered through the rear porch which had stacks of eggs to be candled. The dishes in the kitchen sink handn't been washed for at least several weeks. Phone numbers were written on the wall beside the telephone. We proceeded into the living room and marveled at the rabbit trophies on top of the non-functioning television set. We sensed a presence. As we turned around, Mr. Sanner's father was sitting in the far corner. He told us to sit down. My brother had never seen anyone shake from Parkinson's disease. Five lit matches would blow out before the old man's shaking hands could light his pipe. As we stared, I unconsciously reached down to pet the small dog at my feet. I looked down to see a small pug with a wart on top of a wart on the dog's eye.
Mr. Sanner eventually arrived. He took us to see his rabbits. He specialized in Checkered Giants which he raised for show and meat. His cages were not well maintained. In his garage, he showed us several cavies (guinea pigs). Mr. Sanner remarked that the pen my brother was observing had three guinea pigs.
"There are only two guinea pigs in this pen", my brother said.
"Look closer", Mr Sanner replied.
Upon further inspection, we did see the third guinea pig. Its demise had occurred many weeks previous. The remaining guinea pigs had run over the corpse so many times, that a flattened fur mat was all that remained of the deceased. Before departing, Mr. Sanner pointed out his close friend, Old Mr. Boston whiskey. We declined the introduction.