Student wins award for painting Minden library’s famous cats | RecordCourier.com

Student wins award for painting Minden library’s famous cats

by Jo Rafferty

Gabby Muñoz is too young to remember the two Scottish fold cats Baker and Taylor that lived at the Douglas County Public Library in Minden until they died, Baker in 1994 and his nephew counterpart in 1997.

Yet, Gabby, 10, a fourth grader at Meneley Elementary School in the Gardnerville Ranchos, years later won an award for her watercolor-crayon depiction of the two felines.

“I was really excited,” said Gabby on Monday in the school library. “I just found out last week. Everyone in the class cheered, and in the class next door.”

Gabby is the only person from the area in which the cats lived to have won the national contest offered by Baker & Taylor, Inc., a publishing company based in North Carolina. Two other students from Meneley, Katie Smith and Tiffany Taylor, both sixth graders, earned honorable mentions.

Gabby’s picture is now featured for the month of July in the Baker & Taylor 2006 cat calendar, along with other school children’s original drawings and paintings of the two cats featured on pages of the other months. Twelve winners from all over the country received $500 in Baker & Taylor credit to go toward stocking their school libraries with books, 20 calendars for them to take home and a plaque.

The publishing company received about 500 entries in the cat calendar contest, according to Stefanie Shute in marketing. The contest was open to children in schools and public libraries ages 12 and younger. Baker & Taylor, Inc., prints a calendar each year, but this is the first year they held an art contest. Last year, an artist created pictures of the two cats in various poses. To view all the winning artwork, check the Web site http://www.btol.com

Gabby, who has a twin sister Maria, as well as another sister Cristina, both also students at Meneley Elementary, said she plans to give the calendars to family members for Christmas.

Sixty students in all from Meneley entered the contest, and school librarian Dianne Deadrich has hung photographs of many of them in the library.

“I love kids’ artwork,” said Deadrich. “The kids are really proud when we display it.”

Baker, the elder of the two cats, was born in 1981 and died on June 28, 1994. Taylor was born in 1982 and died Dec. 19, 1997. The two felines came to the library at 1625 Library Lane in Minden in 1983, not long after it opened, according to retired reference librarian Jan Louch, who worked at the library for 19 years. The old library had been located near the Douglas County Courthouse in Minden.

“We got them when we moved from the old library, because there were mice,” said Louch.

Upon discovering the rodents in the new library, Louch and former library director Yvonne Saddler traveled together to a cat show in Reno. Since both Louch and Saddler were Scottish, they decided to purchase a cat of the Scottish fold breed, unique for its folded ears.

“We bought Baker from a breeder in Washington,” said Louch.

Louch said they let the publishing company Baker & Taylor know they named the cat Baker. Louch and Saddler were saving up money to buy another cat, when the publishing company stepped in and bought them Taylor.

In the succeeding years, the company embraced the furry duo as its mascots and the two cats became worldwide renown, according to Taylor’s obituary, provided by the Douglas County Public Library.

“They were featured in ads, bookbags and posters,” said the obituary. “Librarians and book people all over the world knew about the famous cats. A second-grade class in Ohio became pen pals with Baker and Taylor and wrote to both cats for several years. The cats had visitors from as far away as England.”

Louch said she remembers a tour bus stopping, unloading, and the people looking at the two plaques serving as tombstones in front of the library. She said the cats’ ashes are there as well. She recalls attending a Baker & Taylor company picnic, bringing along with her the guests of honor. The publishing company made lifesized costumes of the two cats, one of which she wore during a library anniversary party. The costumes had been expensive and cumbersome to wear, Louch said.

According to Baker and Taylor’s obituaries, Baker spent much of his time sitting in the middle of library employee’s desks, under the high intensity lamps.

Taylor, on the other hand, preferred to hang out in the Nevada room or sunning himself by a window in the biography section.

Louch cared for the cats throughout their lives, and now is taking care of another rescued Scottish fold at her home in Minden.

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at jrafferty@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 210.