It seems like most people have a preference towards either dogs or cats. Looking through my folders and files and re-reading my father’s letters home to his mother during World War 2 I realise the Dinnis family were no different. And they were definitely cat people! In several of his letters Dad (Gordon Dinnis) anxiously inquires about the cats back home, and a couple of them get a name drop – Ginger and Toots. I would have loved to meet these two pampered pets, but on looking closely at my photographs I realise one of them has been captured on film!
Take a look at this photograph of my father’s younger brother, Ron, which was taken in the back garden of the family home. I’m not sure of the date but I’m guessing around the mid 1940s.
My eyes skimmed the thing that looks like part of a bed behind him and focussed on his feet. I tried enlarging the photo and came up with this:
Now, that looks like a cat to me! And a cat that is very much at home there. There’s another photograph of my father’s older brother Jack, and I zoom in on his feet.
Yes, at his feet, just in the picture is the same cat!
I read the letters again, on 29 April 1944 Dad writes: “How are our two cats getting along? I suppose Ginger is still as hungry as ever?”
And in September that year he writes to tell his Mum he has been wounded and is in hospital and finding it difficult to write. But he goes on to say “I hope Ginger and Toots are okay and not too fat.”
He writes again in October “How are the cats getting on? How many have you got now, two or three?”
And the final mention in January 1945 “How are all the cats getting on, and can Ginger keep warm? I’m glad you got plenty of meat for him or else he would sulk.”
So unless my family got a little quirky and named a black cat, Ginger, I guess we can assume the cat in the photographs is Toots.