Friday, August 7, 2015

Good Night, JD

I received a bit of sad news last night. JD the cat has died.

For most people, that sentence doesn't carry much meaning, other than a feline has ceased to live. However, for people familiar with Portsmouth, NH, and more specifically Strawbery Banke museum, it's the end of an era.

JD the cat was a staple of Strawbery Banke. He wasn't owned by the museum; he was owned by a local family who had adopted him years ago. Or, rather, maybe he adopted them? You know what they say about cats. We don't adopt them, they adopt us. And JD was like one of those crazy cat ladies who wants to adopt every cat she sees, except he was a cat. He wanted to adopt everyone.

His family named him JD, short for John Doe, because he'd been a stray with no identity. But "no identity" does not mean no personality.

JD could be seen somewhere around the museum on most days. He especially liked the catnip crop in the garden.

I was lucky enough to be visited by him more than a couple times in the two years I worked at the museum. I remember one time in particular when I was role-playing in Abbott (the 1940's grocery store), and he crept past me as I opened the door to sweep. I politely rounded him up, and gave him a nice pat to show him there were no hard feelings. Not two minutes later, he snuck right back in other entrance!

He was very adept at that, and he had no regard for employees chasing him or security systems, and was caught more than once sleeping on the antique beds.

He became so well-known that there was a children's book written about him! And little plush black cats sold in the gift shop.

Here's an article about the book from Foster's:

The first book proved to be successful, and inspired another book starring him.

In the mornings, he could be seen strolling through the parking lot toward the front gate. And in the evening, he could be seen sauntering away, like he had punched in for a day's work, and was going home to unwind.

We were passing by the museum just a couple days ago, and we noticed him sleeping in the catnip. I'm glad we paused to say hello to him, and give him a friendly pet on the head.

So as a small tribute to the cat with no identity, but tons of personality, here's a photo I took a couple years ago, when I started working at the museum.

 So long, JD. You left us with a legacy.

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