Friday night is always pizza night at the Shuck household and we will bake a pizza pie every week and add all the toppings we love, making it one of the best pizzas in the world. After taking it out and letting it cool, all the dogs will stand around the counter and just look at it and then look at me, then back at the pie. Something that will not end as most of you know if you have a Border Collie.
When I was just eight years old, nearly every Sunday afternoon my parents would take my sister and me to see Aunt Minnie after Sunday dinner. She and Uncle George lived about 50 miles away and something we did nearly every weekend to see my Mother’s favorite sister. We would pile into the 1961 Chevy Bel-Air and hear off for the long journey to Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, which to us kids was near across the country. Me standing on the floorboard of the car looking out the front windshield while Mom held me and my sister Diane coloring in the back was the norm.
After slicing the pizza Friday night, it’s time to make the trip to the family room for dinner to watch TV, but not after getting my pizza slices first and me secretly taking the largest pieces. Going down the stairs is a challenge to say the least because all of the dogs are heading with us wanting their piece, sometimes getting under foot.
During to trip to Lebanon Junction, Dad would always stop at a small town that had a small store. It had wonderful things to look at and things to eat for people making a journey. It was customary to take a bathroom break for us kids and we always got a snack for the rest of the “road trip” if we had been good so far. Both my Dad and Uncle George worked for the railroad and Lebanon Junction was a small railroad community making the sights worthwhile to me.
Settling down into my recliner, I placed the plate of pizza on my lap but now have a ring of dogs watching me and every hand movement is followed by their eyes especially when I go to the plate. I always tell the dogs the same thing, “I don’t eat your food so don’t expect to eat my food” but I know they know better as they continue to watch every movement I make hoping I would drop something.
I can still smell that very store on the way to Aunt Minnie’s house on that little two lane road and see the images of it in my mind but what I remember the most is the soft-drink machine sitting on the floor. Dad would always give us a dime and we would feed the machine sliding our treat through a few channels pulling our drink up through the gate that released it after paying for it and I do remember Dad helping me because I was too little.
After watching me nearly finish my pizza, the dogs can’t stand it. “It’s mine” I said but I still had a piece of crust left and I think they knew what was coming because they would look at me and at the crust and back at me. I know it’s also wrong to feed them human food and I know I’m making the problem worse and the drama continues.
Sitting in the back seat of the 61 Bel-Air, Diane and I had our most coveted treasure. We had an ice cold, super sweet and delicious bottle of Choc-ola. We ran to the car before Mom and Dad, bopping with joy. Each of us putting out thumb over the opening of the bottle to shake it because of its settled chocolate, drinking it in nearly a few swallows, and then it was over… or was it?
After my pizza was gone and my soft-drink was finished, the looks from the dogs never stopped because there was one piece of crust still on the plate so they knew there was a chance.
After finishing our Choc-ola, we saved our bottles to get our 2 cent bottle deposit back. Mom and Dad got a single ice cream cone, Mom liked Vanilla and Dad loved Maple-nut. Without fail, Dad would eat all the cone except the very bottom and pass it back to me. The best part of any ice cream cone is the last bite and he gave it to me. I never realized until later in life how much he loved me and to think a soggy cone bottom and pizza would flood me with memories like it did on Friday night.
As usual, I took the last piece of pizza crust, broke it into small pieces and gave each dog a share just like someone once shared with me. I now know how much he loved me and I know how much I love the dogs because the last bite is the best... Ken