A stray cat with no name saved Leland Huff from a burning building. Now the two spend every day together at a roadside fruit stand.
85 year old Leland Huff had been sleeping in the back of a Stringtown, OK fruit stand since 2011, when the family who owns the stand helped him out by driving 1,600 to bring him back home from from South Dakota, where he had gone to live with his son.
As a man of honor, Leland wanted to give back to those who helped him, so he decided to run the fruit stand and sleep in the back as a night watchman.
The fruit stand was more than just a shack for selling produce, it was a local landmark known as a prohibition era hole-in-the-wall saloon that saw a shootout involving Clyde Barrow, who killed a policeman and injured another while he stopped for a drink there.
After he began tending the fruit stand last year Leland starting feeding a stray cat who came around, and she took up residence.
One early morning in April of this year, Leland was wakened by the nameless cat who stayed with him at the stand; she jumped on his chest and meowed him awake at 4am. Once awake, Leland smelled smoke and knew he and the cat had to get out of the stand. The cat, who was able to come and go through a space in the wall and could have fled, woke Leland in time for the elderly man to escape a fire that turned the old building into a charred outline on the ground.
Leland still runs a temporary tented version of the stand from sunup to sundown, with his little rescuer mostly at his side. Kitty disappeared after the fire and returned with two kittens that Leland keeps safely inside of a camper on the site. Kitty is free to come and go but, especially since the fire, chooses to spend almost all her time at Leland’s feet and on his lap.