Sharon Kennedy: Molly, A Thoroughly Modern Gal

This story was written four years ago and a lot has changed since then. I don’t know if Molly continues to breakfast with these fellows nor do I know if the guys still gather for coffee prior to going to work. What I do know is we need a feel-good story during these trying times.

As a kid, I watched flocks of seagulls follow Dad when he plowed our fields. The gulls were noisy birds. They squawked, chirped, and wailed as they circled around the freshly turned soil. It never occurred to me they were looking for a meal. I thought they were following Dad just to keep him company.

Things have changed since I was a youngster but a few things have remained constant. The sky is still blue, the grass is still green, and grown men still fawn over a good looking gal. I found that out the summer morning I arrived at Willabee’s Motel in Brimley. A week earlier, Lyle Hoornstra and Rich Phillips had invited me to join them for coffee at 6:30 a.m. My first thought was no way am I getting up that early to conduct an interview, but when the fellows explained I might like to meet their friend, Molly, I was intrigued.

I’ve known Lyle for many years. He’s married to a woman some say is a saint because she’s put up with him for over 50 years. My mission was to check out Molly and see for myself what made her so special that Lyle was willing to put his marriage in jeopardy. I’ve had some strange requests over the years, but never before had fellows asked me to meet their girlfriend. I needn’t have worried.

When Molly finally arrived she was dressed in white and gray and although she was pretty and well groomed, she obviously presented no threat to anyone’s marriage. She took her time walking up to her friends, Lyle, Rich, Elgon Ellis, Matt Maki, and Rick Plunkett. She didn’t say a word as she peeked through the glass doors at the men awaiting her arrival. It was approximately 6:45 a.m. and the little lady let them know she was ready to begin her daily routine. Instead of opening the door and coming in like a gal should, she merely pecked on the glass and signaled she wanted her breakfast.

By now you know Molly is a seagull. She was also a source of entertainment to the fellows who looked forward to her daily visit. The men were hardy, healthy, and outwardly might appear as hard as nails, but when it came to Molly, they turned to fluff. I’ve seen men jump and cheer when their favorite sport’s team was winning, but I had never seen anyone get excited over a seagull. That is, not until I met Molly.

Before I tell you her story, I’ll give you the lowdown on the boys. In 2018, they gathered early in the morning to enjoy coffee and a good gossip before beginning work or returning home. Lyle is a retired farmer who traded in his milk cans for a job with Brimley’s Superior Township. Rich is a First Responder and the Township Supervisor. Elgon retired from the county where he spent many winters plowing roads and missing or destroying mailboxes. Matt hails from the West Coast and promises never to return. At that time, Rick owned Willabee’s Motel, one of the finest overnight establishments in Brimley.

Now for Molly’s story. Apparently it began in 2015 when she heard the men discussing our nation’s problems. As their voices rose in volume, she distracted them by tapping on the glass doors. She was alone and apparently friendless so the men took a break from their discussion and took pity on the little orphan who looked hungry and forlorn. Rick owned two Black Russian Terriers and asked if they would mind sharing their food with the persistent beggar. The dogs didn’t complain so Rick put some Fromm’s Classic Four Star Nutritionals Dog Food in a Styrofoam cup and set it outside the door.

Molly hesitated only a moment before she decided it was safe to inspect the offering. She dipped her long bill into the cup. Unlike the noisy gulls that followed my Dad as he plowed the fields, she was as quiet as a feather falling from the sky. Without a peep, she ate her food. Her manners were impeccable and more refined than any foreign aristocrat. The men didn’t know it at the time, but that morning signaled the beginning of a long and endearing affair that continued every morning from spring through late fall when Molly heeded the call of open water.

At first they thought she was an outcast. They felt sorry for her because she had no friends. There were no other seagulls to talk to and share her troubles. No Mr. Gull to bring her fresh perch from the lake or tell her she was pretty. She was a wallflower, a gal the flock ignored, a loner. In her own peculiar way, I think she reminded some of the boys of the years when they were alone and forgotten. Okay, I’m getting a little carried away here, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

After a few days of tapping and feeding, the men realized Molly wasn’t an outcast or a loner. She was a strong-willed bird who knew a good thing when she saw it and wasn’t about to let her pals know she had struck gold. She wasn’t quiet because she was scared. She had simply hatched a brilliant plan and had no intention of telling the other gulls. As they circled the town’s cemetery in their perpetual search for food, they had no idea Molly was dining on expensive dog food and providing entertainment for the guys.

For weeks she had watched as they entered the lobby of the motel. She had listened to them discuss everything from the price of gasoline to which teams would play in the World Series. She had smelled the enticing aroma of top-shelf coffee. She longed to be part of the action so she mimicked what they did. She walked to the door but when it didn’t open she did what seagulls always do to get their own way. She jabbed and pecked until she caught someone’s attention. Soon a hand appeared, a cup of food was placed before her, and the rest, as they say, is history.

And how did the men feel about their feathered friend? Well, as one of them put it and the others agreed, “Any gal who will pass on an Oreo cookie in favor of dog food is a gal worth knowing.” So there you have it. What makes grown men anxious to face the dawn of a new day? The answer to that is easy. Why, it’s Molly, of course. And if you don’t believe a single word I’ve written, just contact Lyle or Rich. They’d rather walk on hot coals than tell a lie!

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