Did you have any pets growing up?

NOTE FROM AUTHOR: This is one more of those questions my youngest daughter asked me to answer in a long assignment that she gave me for Christmas 2020. She purchased a subscription from Story Worth and asked me over 100 questions that she would like to have the answers too. I guess I did not spend enough time with her as she was growing up and I am now “paying the price” for being a missing dad (LOL). I have published the answers to some of her questions in the past … and this is just one more. I just wrote this today 10/21/2021 – and am publishing it out of turn since it means a lot to me. Thank you in advance for reading it.

Dear Samantha;

I’m pretty sure I had many pets growing up.  Some were my pets and some were family pets.  I don’t remember all my pets (from turtles to puppies) and can’t remember most of the other pets owned by the family.  I will briefly tell you about two of the pets that I definitely remember though.


Skipper was a Jack Russell Terrier, I believe (though could be wrong).

He was a “family dog” but he was dearly loved by my brother Eddie.  Eddie was about two, maybe three, when Skipper died.  If memory serves me, he was hit by a car while we lived in an old mining camp, Bayview, Alabama – just before my dad moved north to Chicago to find work.

Eddie wanted to give Skipper a decent burial.  We went across the road to the forest where my dad had dug a hole to bury the dog in a box.  The hole was probably 1 foot wide, by two feet long, by one foot deep.

Eddie stood at the head of the dog and said John 3:16 from memory:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Then, as dad began to cover Skippers grave with dirt Ed began to sing …

Deep and wide, Deep and wide. There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide. Deep and wide, deep and wide; there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide. Wide and deep, wide and deep. There’s a fountain flowing wide and deep. Wide and deep, wide and deep; there’s a fountain flowing wide and deep. There’s a fountain flowing wide and deep.

You can here that song by clicking or following this link:


Skipper was one family pet that I will never forget.  And, of course, who could ever forget “Preacher Eddie”?

Billy Boy:

Our family had a parakeet named Billy.  Actually, this was mom’s bird since the rest of us did not want him when we first got him.  My mom got this bird from my Uncle Alvin’s wife – Verlie.  She gave him up because she could never make him talk.

We had this bird for a couple of years before he died of “Bird Fever” as mom called it. 

Shortly thereafter dad came down with Histoplasmosis.  According to the CDC … “Feathered pets like parrots and parakeets can be fascinating additions to the family. Recent estimates say that over 5 million households in the United States have pet birds. Bird owners should be aware that although their pets might be highly intelligent and fun companions, they can sometimes carry germs that can make people sick.”  We believe my dad almost died from the disease of Histoplasmosis that he picked up from Billy Boy.

Billy Boy was a smart bird – and although we never taught him to talk – he would never shut up once he learned how to talk on his own.

I remember mom was bird setting for a family that had to go out of town.  That parakeet’s name was George.  He was a very naughty bird and would bite mom each time she tried to feed him.  She would not let him out of his cage – like she would Billy Boy – because she was afraid, he would fly off.  Ole Billy Boy seemed to know “who buttered his bread” and would never leave us.

One day mom told George, “You’re a bad bird.” 

All of a sudden Billy Boy started saying, “Georgy is a bad bird.  Georgy is a bad bird.”  That’s the first time I remember him talking.

Billy Boy could carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone.  Dad was washing dishes one day at the kitchen sink.  Billy Boy flew up and sat on the soap dish near the faucet and looked up at my dad and said, “What ya doing Gene?”

Dad said, “I’m washing dishes do you want to help?”

Billy Boy said, “Oh No” and flew off to his cage, jump inside, closed the door and locked it with his beak.

Mom would drape a towel over Billy Boy’s cage at night time so that the lights from the cars on the street would not affect his sleep.

One night, late, after a church function on the south side of Chicago we got home kind of late.  Billy Boy was in his cage asleep.  The guy we went with, I think perhaps the preacher, wanted to hear Billy Boy talk, so he came up to our apartment with us.  Mom told the man that if he wanted to hear Billy Boy talk, he would have to uncover the cage himself because she would not do it.

The man uncovered the cage and said, “C’mon Billy Boy … I want to hear you talk.”

With that Billy Boy opened one eye as said, “Cover my cage Stupid, I’m sleeping.”  Embarrassed, mom quickly put the towel back over Billy Boy’s cage.

Later that year when Billy Boy died … we all were saddened and cried.  It was like us Nix Kids had lost a sibling.

It was a short time after that that my dad almost died with Histoplasmosis and the doctors believed it was something he’d caught from the bird.  After that, there were no more birds for the Nix Bunch.  However, when we meet now – some 60+ years later – we still talk about Billy Boy and just how smart of a creature he was.  


So, while there were many pets, my dear, these are the two that I remember the most from my childhood.  I know that when you are my age and your sons are your age, they will also remember some of your pets like the dog Evie and the male beta fish Chloe, with the girl’s name. 

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