My best present ever was black, white, fluffy and friendly.
Acouple of weeks before Christmas in 1938 or 1939, my family was invited to our neighbors’ house for dinner. After we finished eating, the father asked if I would like to go down to the basement to see their puppies. They had four or five really nice black-and-white border collies— they were so cute! One that was just a bit smaller than the others really took to me. When I asked his sons how much the puppies were being sold for, the response was $5 each. I went home that night and counted my savings; the total was exactly 54 cents. I offered to do extra chores, but I was already filling the wood box and making sure cob baskets were full before dark. It just wasn’t possible to earn enough. Every time I asked over the next several days, the neighbor boys reported that the pups were selling fast. So I put that little dog out of my mind as best I could. Christmas Eve dawned bright and clear, and a cold wind carried sounds a long way over the snow. We heard the sleigh bells coming down our road before we saw them. A pair of large dapple-gray workhorses were hitched to a bobsled, with our neighbor holding the lines. The harness was clean and perfectly fitted. The big hip bells rang out deeply, and the smaller belly bells chimed in with a beautiful higher-pitched tone. Our neighbor maneuvered the horse-drawn sled to the walkway in front of my house, climbed down and handed two boxes to my mother. His wife had sent over some food and a few other things for Christmas. Just as he turned to go, he reached back in the bobsled and handed me a box tied with binder twine. I heard a whimper. One of my brothers produced a pocketknife to open the box; out popped my little dog! I’ll never forget the sound of the bells as the horses made their way down the hill, back to their farm. How my mother came up with the money, I’ll never know. On Christmas morning, she found me fast asleep on the couch with my little dog. Lassie and I chummed around together on lots of adventures— I even taught her to sit in front of me on my sled when we went coasting. Many years later, I had to say goodbye to Lassie. It was a cold winter day, much like when I first met her.
A sweet surprise awaited me on Christmas Eve.