Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile

Legends and Lore: Panther



By Leon S. Herzog

A short story included in Leon’s anthology of the Legends and Lore in the Shadow of Tecate Peak.  Enjoy.

Hi, my name is Panther.

Welcome, I am glad you found us.

You are probably wondering how I got stuck in the dog house outside the World Famous Barrett Junction Cafe and Mercantile.


Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was a small and sickly little pup.  Can you relate?  I had asthma.  I can remember my mother telling me I was someone “Special,” that everything would get better if I used my strength to help others.  At a time I was not able to understand what she had given me, ” a Mother’s Gift of Love.”

I questioned what strength?  I have learned over time that not all things are understood the first time they are presented to you.

It takes time and a willingness to seek meaning.

I was born in a town that had industrial pollution in the air from the local saw mill.  Since I had difficulty breathing my parents chose to move within the first year for my health.

My second home was located near the coast of California, but my asthma persisted.  Another move to El Cajon, California and life was better but no perfect.  My parents noticed that damp air seemed to trigger my asthma attacks.  Another move followed.  The final move was to the Big Valley that is in the Shadow of the Tecate Peak, Barrett Junction, California.

As luck would have it my family and I were adopted by John Marquez of Barrett Junction.  He was a local farmer with a big heart and the proper food.  With dry, clean air and a willingness to get healthy, life began to improve. Soon I could run a few yards without coughing or running out of air.

My mother noticed my strength was improving daily and she kept encouraging me to keep up the good work, to strive to do better.  Soon I was exploring the surrounding mountains that jutted towards the warm blue sky.  Life was good.

I made new friends with the animals that lived in the earth, on the land, that fly and swim.  Can you name some of my friends that live in this community?

By the time I got to be 11 or 12 in dog years I had out grown my form of asthma.

May years later, when I thought about my early years and the sacrifices my parents made for me, I felt extremely thank you.  I will always remember them in my heart with love.

To my mother’s riddle: Being special and that everything would get better if I would use my strength to help others.  I realized:

That a person’s strength comes in many forms.  It is not just a measure of someone’s physical ability.

Courage to fight through a problem or a sickness demonstrates a form of personal strength.  You can be champion without winning the race.  My mother wanted me to try and set an example for people that need encouragement to be strong in difficult times.  To not give up.

You are special when you help others.  My mother gave me a special gift, one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  I now give it to you.  Pass it on.

I am the official greeter and protector of the World Famous Barrett Junction Cafe and Mercantile.  I stand guard to remind people that good things are not graded by their size, but rather by their heart.

Enjoy your stay with us.  We hope to see you again soon.



Thank you for reading this story by Leon. May you find your gift of strength and share it with others.

Please leave a comment, tell us how you share the gift of strength.

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