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All of us boys had dogs. To tell the truth, they were mostly just plain dogs of various sizes and folks called them “mixed breeds,” whatever that means.
These dogs were talented, too. Why, they could chase balls, cars (and cats) and bark at strangers, which is what you expect from a good dog. There’s nothing better than having a big, old dog beside you in a pup tent on a dark and scary night.
My dog Tiger was good at it, too. A pit bull with cropped ears and tail, Tiger wasn’t bred and raised in a family of fighting dogs. In fact, Tiger could be trusted with any baby in the neighborhood.
You may recall Tiger’s life was just as full of adventures as mine.
There was the summer I put too much Rinso in Tiger’s bath water and how he ran down the street covered in soap suds.
Some neighbors called to report “a mad dog foaming at the mouth.”
We got that problem fixed and then old Tiger caught distemper on one of his nights out on the town and ended up with Saint Vitus’ dance, causing him to involuntarily shake his front legs.
When a lot of folks saw Tiger like that, they just didn’t know what he might do. Of course, he wouldn’t do nothing at all.
OK, that’s enough about Tiger.
There was a boy down on the street named Dickie.
Now, it was easy to tell that Dickie’s family had money; every one of ’em had a bicycle. Shucks, I was trying to get one of my own, but Pearl Harbor messed that up.
The fellas just sorta put up with Dickie. He was OK, I guess, but Dickie had this habit of bragging about all his stuff. I gotta admit when it came to stuff, he sure did have a bunch. While my lead toy soldiers looked like they lost their last few battles, his looked like brand new replacements.
When we played “Cowboys,” most of us looked more like Buck Jones and regular cowpokes. But not Dickie; shucks, he came outside dressed a sure ’nuff cowboy and two shiny six shooters with genuine imitation pearl grips strapped to his sides.
We played some, but after a while, most of us got tired of his showing off. We weren’t jealous, we were just sick of him.
It finally got to the point that most guys didn’t want to play with him anymore.
One day, Mama asked me about it.
She said Dickie’s mother mentioned that the boys wouldn’t play with him anymore and how it made him feel so alone since he was an only child.
Bless pete, Mama must have her head on backwards.
She clean forgot that I was her only child and Billy, next door, was an only child and Bobbie and Tootsie were the only children their folks had, too.
Given that, trying to place on only children wouldn't fly.
Mama told me in certain unmistakable terms that it was in my best interest to play with Dickie. That was the end of that discussion.
About a week later, five lazy boys with five dogs were stretched out on the ground under the big maple tree where the rope swing hung.
Old, “know it all Dickie” showed up. Although we didn’t pay much attention to him, it wasn’t very long before he was boasting away.
Not only had Dickie seen the cowboy show at the Imperial, he had also seen the big John Wayne war movie at the Parr. Plus he had a bag of popcorn at both.
After he left, we immediately called a war council and decided it was time for Dickie put up or shut up.
There would be no more bragging; Dickie had to prove his point.
I guess we finally made him mad cause nobody saw him for a couple of days. Even the neighborhood girls joined in by singing “Bragging Dickie, Bragging Dickie,” whenever he came around.
You know, boys are always scheming over something. It’s our nature.
I suggested we put on a neighborhood “dog show.” I figured old Tiger was about the best dog around and, of course, he was the smartest to boot.
We made some signs to let folks know what entertainment was about to commence along Chesterfield Avenue. We were about to start hanging our homemade handbills when old Dickie showed up.
He didn’t have a dog, and I seriously doubted if he could handle any breed bigger than a Fox Terrier.
“What’s the entry fee? he asked. “And how much you gonna pay for first prize?”
Gosh, that was two things we hadn’t figured on. We told Dickie the entry fee was a dime and that to compete, his dog had to be as big as Tiger.
“No problem,” he said, which made me wonder if this was some more of his bragging.
Boys and dogs were sitting around when Dickie shows up with the biggest doggone dog we had ever seen.
This dog was as tall as a small horse and his head was three times bigger that Tiger’s.
In fact, as soon and Dickie and the big dog walked onto the scene, the show ended.
Every dog there – including Tiger – decided it was in their best interest to be some place else.
Well sir, we ended up with a one-dog show. It was a good thing we hadn’t spent any money on a first place prize.
After that, we didn’t call him “Bragging Dickie,” anymore.
He proved once and for all that he could “put up” when it really boiled down to it.