I guess Wesley and I were best friends, at the time. I don’t know what other friends Wesley had, but when we played together, it was just him and me. Other than that I played with my cousins, mostly.
Wesley and I usually played at his house, if we weren’t outside. Played in his basement where he had a bedroom that he shared with his big brother, Jim. Wesley had great toys and lots of them. Sometimes I would bring some of my toys and we shared. He had a car garage. A tin service station with bays you could drive your cars in to. Best of all it had an elevator hoist that you could lift your cars right on to the top of the garage and park them there. It was great. I traded Wesley my Sugar Pops Stagecoach for his garage, but his mom made us give each other back our stuff. Like an Indian-giver. She said it wasn’t a fair trade.
My stagecoach looked like this:
It had an elastic underneath that you could wind up and send the coach racing across the floor, while you made Lone Ranger sounds. “Hi-yo Silver”.
I had to send away for it. A Sugar Pops box top and twenty-five cents, that I had to earn myself, a nickel at a time. My mom put my hard earned money and a box top in an envelope and sent it away. It took an excruciatingly long time for the stagecoach to come in the mail. Time goes much slower when you’re five or six. But when it came, it was fantastic. The Sugar Pops people were terrific.
Wesley’s garage was also an excellent toy. It was big and metal and you could play with it for hours, if you had cars to put inside it. I don’t see how Wesley’s mom could say it wasn’t a fair trade. By the time we had to trade back. Two horses legs were broke off and one of the stagecoach wheels was missing. Wesley’s garage was still perfectly good – except the lever to lift the elevator was a little bent so you couldn’t lift cars up to the roof top anymore.
Wesley said we might as well give our stuff to the Rag Man. I wasn’t sure about that. Why would he take broken stuff. But Wesley said he took anything; bottles and old pots, potato sacks and broke things. He sold them to other people. It didn’t make sense to me. So one day Wesley and I sat on the boulevard on Charles Street and watched him. He had a huge flat top wagon, with car tire wheels. He sat on an old crate at the front of the wagon and his big brown horse pulled him. It was the only horse I’d ever seen in the city. It wasn’t even afraid of the cars.
The Rag Man hollered as his horse pulled him slowly down the street.
“Rags, bottles, bones.”
So one day Wesley and I gave the Rag Man our broken stuff. We put it on his flat top wagon. He didn’t say anything to us, just gave us the evil eye, turned his head and hollered, “Rags, bottles, bones.”
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