Nevada businessman Charlie Good can come off as a tough-talking, hard-nosed guy. But, when it comes to animals, especially cats, Charlie has a soft side.
So when a picture of him showed up on social media recently filling a little bowl with food as a patient, golden-colored cat sat nearby watching him, people were in awe. What’s the story behind Charlie and this gold feline that he feeds daily at his Good and Quick convenience store on Lincolnway?
Charlie gives a little smile when asked about “his cat,” then he tells the story.
“About a year ago, the cat showed up … I’d come to work (very early in the morning, which he does almost every day) … and it jumps out of the dumpster.”
To this day, the golden cat — who he affectionately calls Ethyl (named by customer Lonnie Clark after the ethanol blends Charlie carries) — has never let Charlie pick it up. Therefore, Charlie isn’t really sure if it’s a male or female. Customers have commented they think it’s a male with its structure. Charlie often refers to it as a “her,” based on the name.
The cat has, however, gotten close enough to Charlie to eat out of his hand. “Last summer, I put some chicken in my hand and she’d come eat it,” he said.
Charlie started feeding “his cat,” after seeing it in that dumpster, usually putting out food for it a couple of times a day. All he generally has had to do is step outside the store and call for Ethyl and she or he comes running from a nearby property.
It got to a point, where after feeding it awhile, if Charlie left the door propped open, the cat would come in the shop and follow him around as he did his morning chores. Then when another person showed up, the cat darted off.
When the weather got brutally cold this past winter, Charlie worried that “his cat” would freeze, so he got Ethyl to come into the shop one day and then closed it up so the cat couldn’t get out.
“She had a fit,” he said. And ever since that episode, Ethyl won’t come inside any longer.
To protect “his cat” from the cold, Charlie put a couple of cat houses with bedding and “flapper” doors in them behind the bushes by his shop. He couldn’t stand it if Ethyl or any others were cold. In fact, there were a couple that took up residence during the cold months, and now, a little black cat, much more personable than Ethyl, often sleeps in the houses or comes by for food.
“We put food and water out every day,” Charlie said. The lady who delivers his Des Moines Registers early each morning has even gotten used to the drill. If Charlie hasn’t gotten the food and water out yet when she stops in, she’ll put it out.
Ethyl is “the steady,” Charlie said about the cat who is always there daily to eat.
“She’ll sit out here, even as people come to the store now. But she won’t let anyone touch her.”
Charlie said his history with cats goes back to his youth, when he was first working in southeast Iowa. “I got a kitten, called him Noog Man.” Charlie shared food and conversation with the cat every day. “If I didn’t have that cat with me, I don’t know what I’d have done. I’ve always liked cats.”
When he had a shop in Collins, Charlie had a shop cat named Malcolm.
His goal for Ethyl, he said, is to make it a shop cat if it’ll ever let him, and to have the cat appropriately spayed or neutered, too. “I just want to give her a home. Every animal should have a home.”
When Charlie travels — like a recent trip he took to Washington, D.C., with his son, Alex, and Bill Couser, for the American Coalition for Ethanol — his staff made sure to keep Ethyl fed.
When he returned from his trip, on his first morning back, he laughed as he recalled, “his cat” heard his voice and came charging to greet him.
Charlie certainly has a soft spot in his heart for Ethyl. “I didn’t think Ethyl would make it, because at first (when it climbed out of that dumpster), it was really skinny. Now, she’s well fed.”