Little Red Wagon — Part 1
For some reason having a red wagon as a little girl was important to me. I wanted one. I’m not really sure why I wanted one but I did. Maybe it was the color red which happens to be my favorite. Maybe it was the font in white on the side of the wagon that appealed to me. Maybe it was the potential cargo space and adventures I imagined with this practical vehicle. Having a red wagon was a high priority for me and something I longed for each Christmas and birthday. Then one birthday it happened I got the red wagon! I don’t remember the age I turned, but I suppose somewhere in the range of 8-10 years old.
I was elated though my dad chose to give me the gift under a cruel hoax, but that is another story. Despite this hoax I was glad for the long awaited red wagon. Adventures were to commence immediately out my front door and down the sidewalk to lands undiscovered. I often brought my dolls, Barbie and Ken along as I became a tour guide with occupants sitting quietly on top of blankets and pillows for their comfort.
In my view, I was fortunate to live with an alley, brick no less, behind the garage. The alley stretched for miles both ways, offering uncharted territory to explore. And I would explore, with my passengers in tow. Sometimes an unlocked gate beside a neighbor’s garage yielded me access to their private sidewalk into their yard and what I deemed as foreign lands. The trip into the foreign land required no passport, didn’t occur to me then, but simply a blanket to place on the ground to allow my passengers respite from the adventure, with imagined conversations and perhaps a snack if had remembered one. Once I felt refreshed (or a dog let out of the back door) was my indication the visit had been long enough.
Passengers loaded, out the gate I continued down the brick alley, imagining miles and miles traveled along this forsaken route or rather at least until dinner time where I would actually walk 25 feet or so back to my sidewalk and gate to park my red wagon and occupants by the steps leading to the back door, up the steps I went to the family dinner table.Sometimes I forgot about my passengers until the next morning; after breakfast I emerged to see them sitting exactly how I’d left everything. No worries they were only dolls, after all.
Sometimes I left them at home and simply traversed alone with nothing but a blanket and my Highlights magazine, searching for the perfect spot of shade and comfort under a tree. Again, miles and miles I traveled that alley, through unlocked gates, down endless sidewalks, only to arrive at a corner in my yard 25 feet from my back door. Lying on the ground reading my Highlights might have inspired my brilliant idea and invention, which required my two most beloved possessions: Peabody, my German shepherd, and the red wagon! Armed with rope I rigged Peabody up to my wagon, hopped in and hollered “MUSH!” He didn’t budge. Maybe he didn’t know what “mush” meant. Undeterred I grabbed a stick, string and dog treat. Back into the wagon I plopped, and, grinning with confidence and ingenuity, I hollered again at Peabody “MUSH!” he turned to look at me as I then employed my idea,cheering him on with great enthusiasm, I dangled the treat out in front of him. For extra encouragement, I scooted myself forward in the wagon giddy up style to demonstrate my desire to move forward. He turned to look at me…..again. And this I’m sure is what did it seeing my incredible bravado, he began to walk forward!
YES, my dog was now pulling me in my wagon! Oh, the adventures I could now go on down the alley. I could be gone for hours if not days! I could travel for miles with less effort! I would be the envy of all the other kids in the neighborhood! Perhaps Peabody didn’t want to be the envy of the neighborhood because he stopped only 5 feet into our adventure or maybe it was the fact I had dressed Peabody in a t-shirt and men’s boxers rotated for his tail to wag freely. I was thoughtful in my approach to his attire and the t-shirt fit him perfectly. Nevertheless, he sat down with all the dignity he could muster through this convoluted ordeal I had thrust upon him. He was, after all, my very intelligent independent German shepherd who could open doors and gates, catch softballs, protect me and curl up with me to sleep. Our eyes met, had I crossed the line with my perfect companion, my beloved dog? Sadly, I untied him and undressed him. Forgiven, he happily continued to escort along side me and the wagon. I was happy having him by my side and so was he. His dignity was intact, our friendship preserved. Only in private would I occasionally dress him up again. He tolerated this. I liked my red wagon. But I loved him.