Winner. A box of odds and ends brings back treasured childhood memories
| Co-winner, Writer's Cramp, 2021-07-18
About 770 Words
When I was cleaning out the garage, I found a box of memories. Actually, I found a box of things, but somehow memories are attached to those things. Something you've forgotten, something you haven't thought of for years, and then you find a thing that brings it all back.
What I had found was a box of remnants from our last dog, Marty. Marty had gone to that great squirrel-chase twenty ago, and why I had saved that box of his things was a mystery. Somewhere I have a photo album with pictures of Marty; why keep these old things? Perhaps I thought I might get another dog? Perhaps, though I hadn't wanted another dog for all those years, and didn't want one now.
I took out his food and water bowls. Memories of Marty begging at the table, or begging for treats. Memories of Dad bringing back Dixie Cups and Marty licking his all across the kitchen floor until it went under something and he whined for one of us to retrieve it for him. Memories of Marty being trained to sit and wait until his dinner was put down and he was told it was okay to come and gobble.
A collar, a leash. Memories of a thousand walks. Down streets, through parks, sunshine or rain, wind or snow. Memories of training, on leash and off. Front, heel, sit, lie down, stay. Marty was a smart dog and learned well.
There was a wire coil and screw-anchor we'd used when we were camping, and those brought memories of road trips and camp grounds, of ever-friendly Marty wanting to explore and visit every child and dog in every campground. Marth splashing in the river and bringing us round rocks, to sit proudly and grin at us, "See what I brought you?" Marty chasing squirrels and gophers and chipmunks in those recreation areas where he could go unleashed. He never caught one, but it was not from lack of frantic chasing and jumping.
Ah, a single red tennis shoe. Memories of Marty as a cuddly fuzzy pup, wanting to chew, chew, chew. Even after he had learned not to chew everything in sight, this shoe remained one of his favorite toys. He had chewed its mate to bits, but kept this one intact. He would carry it around until he left it in the most inconvenient spot, where somebody would be sure to step on it or kick it. But every night, he would track it down and take it to bed with him.
A deflated beach ball! Why on earth did I save that? Right, it was another of Marty's favorite toys, and I had kept it thinking I might patch it and make it good again. It brought a memory of Marty chasing it around a friend's acreage, jumping on it and tossing it into the air, leaping and running wildly in puppy play. I laughed aloud at the memory of its demise. Marty had managed to bite it, and his look of astonishment at the resulting pop and deflation had been so comical! He shook it vigorously, as though to revive it, but when that didn't work he left it in disgust and went in search of his well-chewed red tennis shoe.
At the bottom of the box, under the carcass of the beach ball, was a box of old baseball cards. Now, how on earth did that get there? It had nothing to do with Marty; I'd have had his hide if he'd dared to chew on those. That box was a treasured memory of my boyhood. I had sent away a dollar and a cereal box top for the "starter kit" of a container and five cards. I had then diligently pestered my mom to buy that brand of cereal (which had one card in every box) and traded with my friends until I had--holy moly, Batman!--a full set. I was the first kid in my neighborhood to achieve this mighty feat, and I was so proud and pleased with myself. I suspect now that I was the only kid in my neighborhood who wanted to. The cards weren't really worth anything, then or now.
But why in a box with Marty's old stuff? I had collected that set long before I got little fuzzy Marty puppy. I don't think he had ever seen or sniffed those cards. The only connection I could see was that both the cards and the dog stuff were treasured memories of happy times in my childhood.
I smiled, put everything back in the box, and put it back on the shelf. Memories were worth keeping.