Animal Crackers

Yesterday I wrote about hell. Today I deal with a lighter theme: animal crackers. My earliest memory has to do with animal crackers. I was probably three years old, living with my parents and little sister in Svensen, Oregon. My dad was a pastor and on the day of my memory his pastoral duty found him perched on a tall ladder painting the side of the wooden structure that served the Pilgrim Holiness Church in that very small town on the Columbia River.

My mother had taken my sister and me to the store in Astoria, 18 miles away. There, Mom bought me my favorite treat, a box of animal crackers. I was so happy and couldn’t wait to get home and show my daddy what I had. Getting out of the car I ran toward him with my treasured animal crackers. You know the kind–with the red box showing four cages of animals, just ready to be eaten by this adventurous little boy.

As I ran I yelled, “Daddy, Daddy, look what I got!” My dad hear me coming and even though he was busy, he stopped what he was doing and looked down at me. What happened next, I can’t explain. Evidently when my dad shifted his weight to look at me, the bucket of white paint that he had balanced on a ledge, was jettisoned into the air and came crashing down on me. My father was horrified as I screamed. I was covered in paint. But that was not the source of my horror. My animal crackers were frosted with white paint and no longer edible.

Over the years I have told that story to my three children and it elicits such deep sympathy from them, and when they were young, I could almost evoke tears. I have garnered several boxes of animal crackers as compensation from them for the ones I lost as a little boy.

And now the incredible news that my animal crackers are roaming free. Thanks to PETA, they have been released from their cages. The only question I have is what happens when I open that box of free range animal crackers and once again imprison them in my mouth? I don’t know if I can handle the trauma this will cause me!

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