Get your goldfish here!

Kaufmann-Wernert offered many items for the serious Kearney shopper, including a variety of small animals. On the first floor, at the back of the store you could find fish, turtles, and birds available for purchase. Next to the door, a huge, green tank bubbled away containing a large population of goldfish in varying sizes. Their flashing, orange scaled bodies stood out from the green in the tank as they swam around, like an abstract painting in motion. Guppies, my mom’s choice for us, were located in a smaller tank. While not colorful, guppies often did have babies that you needed to remove from their parents to avoid becoming snacks. I am pretty sure we had goldfish first and later guppies based upon longevity. The guppies seemed to survive longer at our house.

Painted turtles,with their plastic island habitats, provided another pet choice. Often decorated with flower paintings, these turtles were very small. Probably babies freshly hatched. I have no idea how big these could get or how they fared in a home environment. Parakeets, canaries, love birds, and holiday chicks offered another option. We purchased a blue parakeet and called him “George”. My grandmother loved canaries and bought an orange one she named “Perry”, after Perry Como. She loved that little guy and enjoyed his singing. Occasionally we would let George out of his cage to fly around a bit and land on a head. A lovely, fine fellow who would cheerfully cheep, but never learned to talk much. A friend of mine purchased holiday chicks, dyed for Easter, and took them home as a surprise. Eventually they were relocated to a farmer as they grew older and matured. Something to consider when buying an Easter chick, or duck. They grow up and then what?

Thinking back on these pets as an adult, I wonder what their lives were like and how well they survived. What was their life expectancy? The big goldfish tank seemed well stocked and continuously supplied. Many sold for a life in a bowl and then flushed once deceased. The glass door provided a view of the world beyond, like the Palm Garden Lounge across the street. Did they ever think of escape? This inspired my Kaufmann-Wernert animal escape paintings. What if goldfish could float away under magical, special circumstances? What if parakeets could fly turtles to The Palm Garden? What if Easter chicks could hang with the Swan sign? Something to wonder as I remember Kaufmann-Wernert and all it offered to Kearney customers for many years.

* Written by Candace Imming.
* Paintings by Candace Imming.

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