When Betty needs a diversion to distract her husband’s attention after she arrives home in the middle of the night looking like she’s done a few rounds in a bar brawl, there’s only one thing that can get her off the hook. A very cute, homeless and bedraggled mewling kitten. I mean, she’s got to pull out the big guns, right?
Here’s an excerpt from Episode 5 “In for a Dime, In for a Dollar” where we meet the Jones’ newest family member:
“I just fell, that’s all,” she continued, as if nothing had happened. Betty passed the towel to George, who began to mop up his feet. “I took a nasty turn on my bicycle and scraped myself silly – it was all thanks to this little devil -” She gently unwrapped the kitten from her night gown and placed it on the table. “It sent me head over heels into a ditch! I had to bring it home, of course. I popped him in the laundry earlier, didn’t want to bother you with it until tomorrow.”
George picked up the black and white kitten. White fur had all but dissolved like wet candy floss on its tiny paws and chest, and the black hair everywhere else clung to its skin.
“Well, how could this be a bother,” George beamed, already smitten. “I mean, it’s terrible you took such a tumble, but thank goodness that’s all it was.” He put the kitten on the floor at his feet. “The children will be beside themselves when they see it. And now we have someone to mop up the spilt milk, too.”
Of course, a new character needs a new name and I had recently been doing research into books and movies released in the early 1940s. Specifically, I was after a book that Betty’s 12-year-old daughter might be reading that were available in 1942 and age-appropriate (I settled on The Little House on Prairie”). In my travels, I had found that the original Disney movie of Pinocchio had been released in 1940. It had been a box-office bomb at the time, sadly due to WW2 cutting off the European and Asian markets, but was again released in 1945 and became a worldwide hit. It is still considered one of the greatest animated films ever made.
As a child, I grew up on Mickey Mouse and the Parent Trap, Mary Poppins and Goofy, as many of you also did, I’m sure. As an adult, I think I’m as much if not more of a fan than when I was a child. I can always count on the old wholesome cartoons to be age-appropriate for my kids when so many other cartoons on T.V. seem to include references to things I’d rather they not know about. Anyway, back to the story –
At the time of writing this particular episode, I was fostering three homeless kittens, and their mother cat, who was a stray. (My home life does tend to influence the story in unexpected ways!) The mother cat had been found by my parents a few days before a seasonal cyclone. She was nesting her litter in a stormwater drain near their house. Luckily, they pulled them all out in time, and I ended up looking after the little ones for the next four months until they were rehomed together (I still have the mummy cat, Pixie, in photo bwlow – she’s the one who tries to sit on my keyboard while I write!).
So, the new kitten in Betty’s story, inspired by my own cat fosters and Pinocchio’s golden-era movie match, led to Betty and George’s new kitten being named after Figaro, the cute feline star of the animated movie. It would have been a recognizable and popular name for kittens of the era, for any children lucky enough to attend the theatre between 1940-1943.
Cheers to adorable little Figaro and his adventures with the Jones’ family <3