Dorothea Nordstrand Tells the Story of Hooch the Wondrous Cat, Resident of Seattle's Green Lake

March 27, 2024 at 6:45 p.m.

Dorothea (Pfister) Nordstrand (1916-2011) was a frequent contributor to Northwest Prime Time. Her essays also appear in's “People’s History Library.” Dorothea was given an award for contributing her vivid reminiscences to the community. 
Dorothea Pfister Nordstrand as a baby and a senior, photos courtesy of the Nordstrand family


Part X in a continuing series

The Story of Hooch

When I was six or seven, elderly, multi-colored mama cat we owned presented us with an absolutely beautiful, Maltese-gray, short-haired, sleek, plump, and loving tom-kitten, to which we gave the name "Hooch." At this point in time, I haven't the faintest idea why, but that was his name. He was so unlike his ugly, crotchety, and often downright anti-social mother, that Daddy always said she must have smuggled him in.

Hooch loved us all and purred contentedly while I pushed, pulled, and wrestled him into several layers of doll garments, and then would sleep for hours flat on his back with his paws neatly folded over the edge of a blanket, while I wheeled him around the neighborhood in my doll buggy. He figured in many of our childish games. I remember at least once carrying him like a sack of flour draped over my shoulder while I climbed up a ladder, ran over the roof of the garage, and climbed down the other side on another ladder while I was "escaping from a burning pirate ship." I don't even remember that he stopped purring during this bouncing escapade.

He was Mom's errand boy. We kids slept in an unheated, unfinished attic. When it was time to get us up for school, Mom would simply open the door at the foot of the stairs, and up would come Hooch, squalling like a town-crier. He always went to my brother's bed first, where he would stamp up and down Jack's body and bite at his ears until there was no chance Jack would fall back to sleep.

Then, he would turn his attention to Florence and me. We shared a bed on the other side of the unpartitioned room. He was gentler with us girls. He would nibble our cheeks and any other exposed areas of our anatomies, purring like a vacuum cleaner gone mad. If that didn't get the desired results, he gave forth with a few cat-shouts that we couldn't ignore. Then, with his job accomplished, he would scamper back to the warm kitchen and a well-earned bowl of oatmeal. Hooch ate what we ate and seemed to thrive on it.

Dad loved to fish, and at that time, Green Lake, across the street from our house, had no fishing restrictions. So, whenever he could find the time, my father would be sitting on a folding campstool at the water's edge, fishing. The lake was home to a few trout, more fresh-water perch, and something we called "chubs," extremely bony and no good for human consumption.

Hooch went fishing with Dad. He would take up his post about 20 feet directly behind him. If Dad hooked a chub, he would flick the pole back, neatly depositing the fish just in front of the cat, who would pounce and devour. He was sleek and fat. Hooch would keep to his post as long as the fishing was going on. When the pole was dismantled, he would stroll down, meet Dad at the water's edge, and they would walk companionably home together, side-by-side as fishing buddies should.

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