Captain Maddox taught me to read

Captain Maddox went straight to his brand new home on top of the fridge, where if I read enough out of my Dick and Jane reader I could play with him for a certain amount of time every day. I've always maintained that Captain Maddox taught me to read. (Later he was translated, taken through another dimension to that Great Beyond; if you'll stick with me long enough you'll get to hear that story, too, a tale right out of The Twilight Zone.)

Now, in Virginia we lived in an even more remote place than Bear Canyon, if you can believe that. This further reinforced my being a loner and treating Johnny West as my best friend. It is also here that Jamie threw our Geronimo out of the hayloft, and poor Geronimo lost his legs. We never could find the leg spring, or we could have saved him. Mom, always a better doctor than Daddy, had taught us how to put these guys back together with a simple little steel crochet hook-the perfect tool! But no spring-no fix. Geronimo died there on the floor of the old two story Civil War era barn-in the midst of Civil War battlefield country, no less. Who would ever have believed it?

I didn't mention the fact that my mom paid us at least one Sunday in Virginia to stay home from church. Yes, it's true. She gave me and my seven-year-old brother each a quarter so she wouldn't have to bother getting us ready, because we were too slow. Yeehaw! The fun raged on! Two kids, seven and five, and we were having so much fun with Johnny West we were too enthralled to be scared.

I took that quarter I made, and on that first trip to Toys R Us, which in memory looks big enough to be two warehouses stuck together, I made my very first purchase with my own hard-earned money, a bag of "little men." It cost me exactly one quarter.