The Unsinkable Molly Brown Rides the Waves of Outrageous Fortune to a Safe Harbor on Governors Island but It Is Unclear What Has Happened to Her
"We don't know where she came from. Her fur was a little matted. There was salt in her fur. There was a piece of seaweed around her foot."
-- Leslie Koch of the Trust for Governors Island
Security guards making their rounds on Governors Island received a pleasant surprise on April 17th when they stumbled upon the presence of a pretty calico cat near Soissons ferry dock on the northern tip of the one-hundred-ninety-four-acre island. Since the nearest landfall is four-hundred yards away in Brooklyn Heights and with shores of Manhattan being twice that distance, they were confounded as to how the cat, since named the Unsinkable Molly Brown, had made it to the island.
Now, all these months later a new mystery has arisen concerning Molly's whereabouts with the Trust for Governors Island, which administers all but twenty-two acres of the island, disseminating contradictory information as to what has become of her. (See photos of her above and below.)
"We don't know where she came from," the Trust's Leslie Koch admitted to ABC News on April 22nd. (See "Governors Island Cat Needs Name after a Mysterious Journey.") "Her fur was a little matted. There was salt in her fur. There was a piece of seaweed around her foot."
The presence of the salt and seaweed has led some to theorize that Molly was swept into Buttermilk Channel from either Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, or possibly even New Jersey by the torrential rains that pelted the area on the weekend that she was discovered. She then either swam ashore or floated to safety on a piece of flotsam.
"Exactly how far a cat can swim is hard to say," Manhattan veterinarian Arnold Plotnick told ABC News. "I suppose if your life depended on it...Cats are pretty athletic. It's not totally incredulous. Cats can survive amazing things."
Another possibility is that she was tossed overboard by a boater passing by Governors Island. Just as conscientious boaters sometimes go out of their way in order to rescue cats that are thrown into the drink, others no doubt do exactly the opposite by cruelly drowning those that they no want to care for at sea. (See Cat Defender post of August 9, 2010 entitled "Sunday Afternoon Boater Plucks Splat Out of Clouter Creek after She Is Thrown Off the Mark Clark Expressway Bridge in Charleston.")
She also could have been chased into the water by either a motorist, dogs, or yobs. (See Cat Defender post of April 29, 2010 entitled "Long Suffering River Finally Finds a Home after Having Been Run Over by a Motorist and Nearly Drowned.")
Moreover, the presence of salt and seaweed in her fur is not conclusive that she even was in the water. She easily could have acquired both through either simply being caught out in a storm or by pussyfooting around the island.
The fact that she was found near where the ferries dock opens up the possibility that she could have arrived on one of them as a stowaway in a delivery truck. It also is conceivable that a foot passenger could have transported her to the island and then abandoned her.
Since cats cannot talk and no one has come forward to shed any additional light on this perplexing mystery, it is highly unlikely that the public ever will know the true story of how Molly arrived on the island. "The wonderful thing about the cat is the way in which, when one of its many mysteries is laid bare, it is only to reveal another," Robert De Laroche marveled in The Secret Life of Cats. "The essential enigma always remains intact, a sphinx within a sphinx within a sphinx."
The important thing is that she arrived in one piece and apparently uninjured. "She's not in any pain," Koch told ABC News in the article cited supra. "She likes to be petted. She visits the offices. She has a very sweet personality. She's a total joy to be around."
Her colleague, Elizabeth Rapuano, could not agree more. "We are enjoying having her," she told ABC News. "She adjusted here very quickly."
The Trust even sponsored a contest to name her and out of the thousands of suggestions received she was dubbed the Unsinkable Molly Brown in honor of the heroine of the Titanic, Maggie "Molly" Tobin Brown, who also in her heyday was a suffragette, philanthropist, and soup kitchen worker. (See photo of her below.)
"Molly Brown is a great name," Rapuano cooed to DNA Info of Manhattan on May 13th. (See "Governors Island Cat Gets New Name.") "It captures the spirit of adventure, bravery and perseverance that she has brought with her to the island." It also is a decided improvement over Odysseus, Gertrude, Gov'Nor, Salty, Titanic, Snookie, and Ginger from Gilligan's Island, which also were suggested by the public.
The most important question of the moment is no longer where she came from but rather where is she now? For example, on June 28th the Trust stated in an e-mail letter that Molly had been "adopted by a member of the Governors Island ferry crew and is living quietly and happy now."
That declaration soon was contradicted by Time Out New York which reported on July 19th that she was still on the island and could be found, inter alia, in the bookstore as well as the visitors' center in Building 410 near the ferry landing. (See "Animal Mascots of NYC.")
Two days later on July 21st, the Trust confirmed on its web site that Molly indeed was still on the island. (See "Molly Brown Is Now a Citywide Phenomenon.")
While getting anything remotely approximating the truth out of a New Yorker never has been easy, the Trust should come clean on this issue. In particular, it unequivocally should inform the public as to Molly's whereabouts, her health, and legal status. Ideally, one particular individual should be put on record as being responsible for her safety and well-being.
The only other way of getting to the bottom of this mystery would be for visitors to the island to keep an eye out for Molly and to check on her health and safety. Humane groups in Gotham should take it upon themselves to look into this matter but that is not about to happen.
On the one hand, she might be safer and happier in a private home provided that a deserving and loving one could be procured for her. That, on the other hand, would deprive the public of the opportunity to see and meet her. In the final analysis, however, the Trust should do whatever is best for Molly as opposed to its bottom line.
Photos: Trust for Governors Island (Molly up close and in front of a building), James Keivan of the New York Daily News (Molly sleeping), and Library of Congress (Maggie Brown).