I get a kick out of the television commercials I have been seeing lately starring Doug and the Limu Emu. These commercials remind me of the time Sedalia Municipal Court made USA Today.

A family in town had a pet emu. It was an outside bird, of course, and their neighbors loved her.  In fact, the neighbors had taken down fences so that the bird, named “Curly Sue,” I believe, could run joyfully from yard to yard as she got her daily exercise. The family had picked up the emu on the road after having hit it as it was, I suppose, getting its daily exercise running along North Highway 65. The man (I’ll call him Mr. Jones) knew something about animals, and so he loaded her up and took her to the vet.

There, Curly Sue’s wounds were dressed, and the family was given instructions for her care and feeding, which they took to heart. They took her home and nursed her back to health.

Mr. Jones did some investigation and found that Curly Sue was in Sedalia because someone else in town had purchased her from a family in another state; however, Curly Sue’s original owner told Mr. Jones that he had never been paid for her, so if the Joneses wanted to keep her, that was fine with him. So Curly Sue settled into her new home and became a family member.

Someone, however, saw fit to complain to the City that an emu was living at the Joneses’ house in violation of a City ordinance, and the whole brouhaha ended up in a trial in Municipal Court.

Usually, when a whole slew of neighbors came to court for a trial, it was because they were squabbling among themselves regarding someone from one house who had been a thorn in the side of someone in another house for years and years. They often told tales of such neighborly behavior as someone’s scattering trash over the other’s yard, or some dog who yapped incessantly all night every night, or, I kid you not, that someone had looked crossways at someone else, and “you know what THAT means!”  I didn’t.

Those kinds of stories distressed me, because I kept hoping that surely, calmer heads would prevail, and they could learn to live next to each other and simply leave each other alone. But I found that many people would rather hold grudges for years, thinking that the vitriol they carried in their hearts would somehow damage the other person, though it never worked out that way.

This time, though, the neighbors were there to support Curly Sue and her family. In fact, no one appeared in court to testify on behalf of the City that the emu was somehow a bother or a nuisance. The City’s case rested solely on an ordinance requiring that if a person had 20 fowl in his or her yard, that yard had to be a certain number of square feet.

The neighbors and Curly Sue’s family were there to testify that they loved the bird, they loved her joie de vivre, and they had opened up their back yards so that she could run up and down with reckless abandon as she wished, just being an emu. She had never attacked anyone, had never caused any problems for any of the witnesses, and they just wanted the City to leave her alone so they could continue to enjoy her. No one could figure out who had squealed on Curly Sue’s family.


Ultimately, the decision was mine. I read the ordinance carefully and decided that it really didn’t address this kind of bird. The number of square feet required for 20 “fowl” would certainly not adequately house 20 emus. I decided that Curly Sue would stay.

After I made the decision, I was surprised that it made this paper. Then I was shocked that it made USA Today and put Sedalia Municipal Court on the national map. Who knew?

So today, when I see Doug and Limu Emu running down the street in the commercial, I smile as I remember Curly Sue and her 15 minutes of fame. It was a good day.


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