A Boy, A Camera, A Dog

It’s 1985, and you’ve just moved to Missouri from the great state of Wisconsin (Snow Be Upon It). You’ve spent a year in your rich relatives’ basement before your poor sainted mother could work her way off of the frozen onion assembly line into a typist (with typewriters!) position with the government and could afford to shelter you and your brother in a 12′ x 60′ trailer in a semi-rural Missouri trailer park. You’re not supposed to leave the trailer as a “latchkey kid,” and all you’ve got for amusement is the Polaroid Instant Camera you got for selling cards adverised on the back of comic books (thank you, Captain Olympic!), a film cartridge you might have earned with some months’ worth of fifty-cents-a-week allowance for cleaning the said trailer and cooking dinner every night, a stray dog herded from traffic into your household, and a kid brother. What do you do for fun?

You stage a set of photos illustrating how your dog is a genius. Just like she told you to.

Behold:

Cricket, The Genius

Cricket reading Omni
Cricket reading Omni on the sofa of our 1968 Star mobile home.

Cricket reading the financial pages
Cricket reading the financial pages at the table. The cookie there is for later, not to draw and hold the dog’s attention while the photograph was taken. It’s a real shame we didn’t take her advice and short everything in October 1987.

Cricket playing cards
Cricket playing my brother at cards, looking for her stake to short sell everything in October 1987. Unfortunately, preteen children from trailer parks rarely have the scratch needed to impress brokers.

Cricket doing Kevin's homework
Cricket did my brother’s homework. Although she was smart for a dog, apparently she didn’t care much for elementary school social studies.

Cricket doing a crossword puzzle
Cricket loved crossword puzzles, but the ones in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn’t challenge her much.

One of my first short stories, written in middle school, was a little two page bit written from Cricket’s point of view. The short story was fittingly rejected by McCall’s in my first magazine submission. I’ve lost that rejection letter, which would otherwise be the pride of my extensive collection.

As a hare-brained money making scheme, I created the official fan club for that dog. For some princely annual sum, you would get a membership card printed on dot matrix, cut crookedly, and laminated with some sheets I bought at the flea market:

Cricket fan club membership

Wonder of wonder, I think I actually sold one of these to the kid across the street for a quarter. I even produced the first monthly Cricket fan club newsletter, but then it tailed off to some other projects.

This is where I add a snappy conclusion that leaves you with some bon mot to mull over. I don’t got one. All I have is a handful of cutesy dog pictures and a couple of memories to share. Make your own bon mot.

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