Archived Story

Big John’s mother lost the cow

Published 9:07am Thursday, July 17, 2014

“Mom lost my cow!” Big John burst into the diner and slapped his ball cap down on the table with a flurry of theatrical disgust; much like a professional wrestler momentarily holds a folding chair high over his head before bringing it crashing down on the back of his hapless opponent. “Best cow I ever had.”

“Cow?” Arnold Tobin barely looked up as he inhaled a full order of biscuits and gravy. “You’ve got a cow?”

“Prized cow. I wouldn’t have a cow if it wasn’t something special. Mom must have left the front door open and let it get out. I certainly don’t have a cow, now.”

“You live with your mother?” Harry Winkle wondered out loud. Sarah filled his coffee cup for the fourth time as he tried to get a grasp on John’s comments. “Didn’t know that.” Harry, Uncle Al, Jimmy, and the rest of the breakfast bunch have known Big John since grade school. None of them knew he had a cow, or that he lived with his mother. “The cow lives with you, too?”

“You know I don’t have a barn. Where else would I keep it?”

Big John’s response seemed to make sense. Where else would he keep a cow? He couldn’t use the garage — where would he park his pickup?

“Mom must have left the front door open. The back yard is fenced in and she wouldn’t have gotten away if the back door had been left open.”

“Your mom wouldn’t have gotten away?” Al dipped his toast in the yolks of two eggs, sunny side up as he tried to piece together the fragments of the conversation.

“My cow. Mom never goes away. Aren’t you listening?”

“I’m trying not to.”

“I got home from work last night, hit the button on the telephone message thing, and a lady tells me that my cow is loose and out in the street.” Big John looked up at Sarah, who had been waiting patiently to take his order – it was always the same, half order of biscuits and gravy with one egg flopped on top. With the important stuff out of the way, he continued the story. “I’m thinking this explains why my front door was unlocked, mom must have come over and let the cow out. I went out into the street, but there was no sign of any cow, anywhere.”

“Who was the lady?” Jimmy was more interested in his breakfast than John’s cow story, but curiosity was getting the better of him.

“That’s just it. She didn’t say who she was and I didn’t recognize her voice. I just know if I had a prized cow and it was loose and wondering the streets, it wasn’t because I let it get loose. It had to be my mom. Of course, it could have been a wrong number.”


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. He can be reached at

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