This afternoon, I heard the cawing of a crow from my backyard, and it brought back vivid memories of a certain very popular black crow that was a part of my childhood. He was known as “Charlie” and he periodically visited both my kindergarten and neighborhood in the 1960s. Charlie was a very friendly crow and he seemed to be attracted to children. He often visited my kindergarten class when we were outside playing on the playground and would land on the swing-set during our recess time. I still remember how happy the kids would be to see him and how children would run from all directions to greet Charlie once he was spotted. And I think Charlie was just as happy to see us as we were to see him. The neighborhood I grew up in which was about a mile away from the kindergarten I attended, was full of children and so it seemed Charlie flocked to wherever children were. He showed up often during our backyard games of kickball or while we were swinging on a play-set or out riding bicycles.
Charlie was very special and my sisters and I remember him well because Charlie talked (which was a pretty cool thing to a five-year old girl). I remember Charlie could say “Hello” and he could say “Charlie.” I used to inquire often where Charlie came from but no one seemed to know. We often wondered if he was someone’s pet. Charlie used to steal our elderly (but spry) next door neighbor’s clothespins right off her clothesline and he was also known to fly off with an article of her clothing from time to time. I still can envision dear old Mrs. B. shooing Charlie off with her broom as she tried to hang her laundry out to dry and my mother and I used to laugh at their games of tug-of-war with a brightly colored sock.
Crows are thought to be highly intelligent animals with very high IQs. They have a lifespan of about 20 years and in captivity can live much longer than that. According to Wikipedia, the oldest known American crow in the wild was almost 30 years old. The oldest captive crow documented died at age 59!
After years of visits to our neighborhood, Charlie’s visits just abruptly seemed to stop. We never knew what happened to him. I think of Charlie often and wish I knew more about his history– where he came from, how old he was, and why he stopped coming. He was loved by our neighborhood and greatly missed.