Item From the Past: Cachi the Falling Poodle
In late February 1992, I saw a short article in one of the English-language newspapers in Japan with the attention-getting headline: Poodle's plunge fatal to 3 people. It was a Reuter-Kyodo story with no byline, but a Buenos Aires dateline.
"A dog that fell from a 13th-floor balcony Friday night triggered three deaths in a row in central Buenos Aires, police and witnesses said. The dog, a poodle named Cachi, hit 75-year old Marta Espina on the head and both the woman and the dog died instantly..." the article began, citing anonymous police sources. Another woman in the crowd watching the incident died when a bus hit her, and a man at the scene had a fatal heart attack, according to the article, which ended: "It was not immediately clear why Cachi fell."
Twenty years later, the way to share an article like that would be to hit the forward button. In 1992, I photocopied it a few times and, since the article was short, used the blank parts of the pages to write letters. At the time I'd recently visited Toba, Japan, the place where cultured pearls were invented, so that was the subject of the first part of the letter. The main thing I can say about that visit now is that at Mikimoto Pearl Island, you can see a one-third-sized replica of the Liberty Bell, made out of cultured pearls.
I added my own comments about the article to the letter, in the form of paragraphs in between the description of Toba and other things.
"Not clear why Cachi fell, indeed. I say these are more drug-related deaths. Remember puppy uppers?"
"Why did the cop request anonymity? Maybe he's afraid of the poodle gangs of Buenos Aires. They're mean and they look out for their own."
"Surely you heard about the attempted coup in Venezuela. Poodle gangs had infiltrated the military's office corps in that country, you know. It's a problem all over South America."
"Remember the Shinning Path in Peru? Perhaps you don't remember their quaintly Stalinist slogan, 'All Power to the Workers' and Poodles' Soviets!' "
Just now I ran Chaci poodle Buenos Aires through Google, something not possible in 1992, and it seems that the story of the falling South American poodle is lost to the Internet. Rather, I got hits like this: Tom Bosley Dead at 83.... Oct 20, 2010 ... Condolencias para Buenos Aires de @elReydeInternet ... The chicks loved the poodle skirts and the '50s styles, the dudes loved the cars and ... Days were "Laverne & Shirley", "Mork and Mindy", and "Joanie Loves Chachi."