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Glowing Dreams of a Tom Mix Radioman
Squeak. Rustle. Clunk!
It’s the sound of our mail box being opened, stuffed, then securely closed.
Today, I am first to run to the front door and retrieve the daily mail, just in case my special order has arrived.
This is 65 years ago, when we still know the name of the letter carrier, his family, his route and his schedule. He is right on time.
I run to the living room sofa and spread the trove. The newest issue of Life Magazine. A utility bill. A letter from Aunt Annabelle. And a small package addressed to Master Jim Reed!
This is it. Without waiting for permission, I carefully dissect the wrapper, emulating my mother’s care in saving for re-use any and all paper and cardboard materials. I pull out a personal greeting from Tom Mix, the cowboy star I listen to each week on the radio. I won’t know for decades that Tom Mix actually dies a year before I am born…but his franchise lives on.
Lo and behold, here is what I’ve been waiting for. A Tom Mix white plastic belt with red cowboy figures printed thereon. And it is just my size. Well, it is just the size of any small boy who owns it.
I am excited beyond all measure. Not just because I now own the belt. I am excited because this Tom Mix belt is supposed to glow in the dark! Following instructions, I expose the belt to sunlight, then rush to the nearest closet—the only daytime dark place in the house.
I pull the door tight, imprisoning myself among mothballs and suitcases and shoes and clothing. I dare to open my eyes. And there, lighting up the darkness, is my genuine Tom Mix glow-in-the-dark white plastic belt. It seems magical. I am not at all sure that I have ever seen anything that glows in the dark without an electrical plug or a battery or a hand crank.
I look around to see just how much illumination this belt is capable of. Sure enough, I can see ghostly images of my hands, my shirt, my pants, my bare knees, and all the mysterious closeted objects I can never see in the dark.
Later, after showing off my latest mail-order acquisition to playmates and siblings and mother, after wearing the belt secured by cloth loops about the waist of my Jungle Jim khaki shorts, I have completed the chores and commitments of the day and am once again alone—my favorite place to be. Supper dispensed with, bath behind me, fresh pajamas donned, I climb up to lie abed on the top bunk of the bedroom and spend a little daydream time before slumbering.
Brother Ronny is already snoring in the bottom bunk. Flashlight and comic books are nearby. The sounds of the nightly neighborhood critters filter in through the metal window screens. Nearby houses are already dark. One bright planet, Venus, peers in through the west-facing window.
And there, within my grasp, is the Tom Mix belt. I wonder what Tom Mix would do with a glowing belt out on the cowboy prairie of the Wild West. Since cowboys don’t have flashlights back then, he probably uses the belt to locate firewood on a dark and stormy night. His horse, Tony, is settled in. He holds the belt aloft to find wooden matches. He lights kindling, feeds the flames with more wood, and beds down for the night, using his saddle for a pillow, hoping it doesn’t rain.
The Tom Mix glow-in-the-dark white plastic belt has served its purpose for the night.
Here I am, also bedded down, hugging my new belt, gazing at bedclothes faintly illuminated.
I close my eyes, drift into cowhand dreams, knowing that this has been a really great day, knowing that there may not be that many really great days to come. Hoping that there will be more wonderful days than I can possibly imagine
© Jim Reed 2015 A.D.