Movie Date: March 3, 2000
Memory is a funny thing. Recollections slip in and out and around in time... ...leaving plenty of room to weave and backtrack... ...and drift and glide. In my life, I've found that... ...memories of the spirit linger and sweeten... ...long after memories of the brain have faded. My fondest memories are of my childhood days... ...back in Yazoo, Mississippi. I can still see the town now. Ten thousand souls, and nothing doing. Where the old men sat drowsily in straw-bottom chairs... ... watching the big cars with out-of-state plates whip by. Drivers hardly knowing... ...and certainly not caring what place this was. There was a war going on then. And it touched our lives every day. War, President Roosevelt reminded us... ...required everybody to make sacrifices. And boy, we did. The cotton grew tall that year, the summer of ... ...but I sure didn't. Matter of fact, I stayed so small and puny... ...l was a target for the neighborhood bullies. Fortunately, I lived next door to Dink Jenkins... ... Yazoo's best athlete and favorite son. Dink? Where do you think they'll send you? Probably Fort Benning for basic, then overseas, I reckon. How long will you be gone? That's hard to say. If you're not home, who will show me how to throw a curve ball? You promised to show me. Partner, you're gonna do just fine. While I'm gone, you'll make friends your own age... ...and who knows, you might even meet a girl. Will! Suppertime! This was a time of large families. Four or five kids, sometimes more. So needless to say, ours was already unusual... ... what with me being the only child. My mother was lively and talkative. Certainly didn't fit the housewife mold. And my daddy.... Well, my daddy was stern and overbearing. He was a war veteran and had lost his leg in battle. And from most accounts, it changed him. Sometimes it seemed that along with that leg... ...he'd also lost a piece of his heart. You know l.C.? Colored fellow at the service station? Sure. -His son came back from Europe today. -Wonderful. In a box. Somebody around here's gonna be having a birthday pretty soon. You been thinking about how you want to celebrate? A party maybe? Will, your mother asked you a question. Stop. You're lucky to have that food, with the rationing. Would you like a party? I guess. I picked these up today at Carr's drugstore. Invitations? You can't very well have a party without guests, now can you? After supper, you fill them out and give them to your friends tomorrow. Like who? What about John Abner? He's . He still wets his pants. There are plenty of children who would love to attend your party. Your mother went to a lot of trouble to get invitations. And you will fill them out. Can I be excused? Yes, you may. Don't forget your invitations. What are we gonna do? He's gonna be so lonely without Dink. Maybe we should reconsider what we talked about before. Absolutely not. We've been over this already. It is not a good idea. Not for Will, not now. He is still too young. -Y'all be careful. -All right, we will! Hey, you wait for us! Smile. You take care, you hear? Come on, Jenkins! Can't keep old Adolf a-waitin' ! Fellas, y'all want to come? We was wondering... . We wanted you to sign our football. You know, as a souvenir. All right. Beside Slingin' Sammy Baugh. His name came with the ball. This might be a little soon, don't you think? I ain't even played college ball yet. Jenkins, come on. Let's go! -Thanks, Dink. -Let me see! Willie-boy, aren't you gonna wish me luck? Y'all give me a second, okay? What's the matter? When I get back, I'll show you how to throw that curve ball. Really? Shoot, yeah, really. Don't forget to write me. Give the letters to my mama. She'll send them. I want you to tell me everything that happens around here, okay? Don't leave nothing out. All right? This is mine. I hope it'll mean something to you. You didn't think I'd forget your birthday, did you? Thanks, Dink. I'll see you. See you! Good luck! Here we go now! Bye-bye, ladies! Twenty-four, hut, hut! Pass it. Here, I'm open! Hon. Hon?! Goofball can't even catch! Time to come in. Why didn't you catch it, you big titty-baby? Let me see it. I can't believe that titty-baby lives right next door to Dink Jenkins. What a waste! Here, let me help you. They say this is what all the dapper young men in Memphis are wearing. Thank you, Grandma. Huck Finn! Thank you, Grandpa! There's cussing in it. There. A pocketknife! Relax, worry-boy. It's just fingernail clippers. It does have a blade, though. Thank you, Aunt Maggie. This one's from me. It was mine when I was a boy. Thank you, Daddy. It's nice. Say thank you for your nice presents. Wait. There's one more. I thought we agreed. You agreed. This is from Daddy and me. I hope you like it. You mean he's mine?! He's all yours. I hope you like it. I'm sorry. Jack, be sensible. Your mother made a mistake. -We can't keep a dog. Not now. -What? Maybe next year. But why? I know you're disappointed... ...but I want you to know that... ...I'm gonna find a real good home for him. I know you're upset with us. I'm so sorry about what happened. Did you ever get your birthday present taken away from you? Your father just doesn't think you're quite ready for a dog yet. I am ready to have a dog. I'm . Lots of kids younger than me have dogs. Ralph Atkinson. He's only . He has two dogs, a cat and bird. He can stick his head in the dog's mouth. That's impressive. I can take care of a dog, Mom. Really, I can. You just be a big boy about this, okay? He'll be fine. I don't think so. You know... ...if anybody here deserves to be angry, it's me. You went behind my back. You didn't give me any choice. I tried to reason with you. -That was dishonest. -You want to talk about honesty? Then you tell the truth. -Why don't you want him to have a dog? -I already told you. He's a little boy, and a dog is a big responsibility. He's not a baby. He's a responsible boy who needs a friend. And what happens when he becomes attached to that dog? Learns to love it? I thought that was the general idea. Dogs die. They get sick. They run away, get hit by cars. They're a heartbreak waiting to happen. He's not ready for that. He's frail, he's sensitive and he can't handle it. How do you know what he can handle? You don't give him a chance. I know all about loss. Experienced more than my fair share. It's hard enough on an adult. A boy shouldn't have to. So you're gonna shelter him from life? For how long? He keeps the dog. For two weeks. If there's a problem, I'll take it to the farm myself. Jack... ...Will deserves this chance. He needs it. Wait, l... . -I haven't agreed to that. -I'm not asking. Hey, boy! What's the matter? You miss your mommy and daddy? Your brothers and sisters? I'll take care of you. Don't be scared. I've got you. I'm an only child... ...and now you're an only dog. I met him on the day I turned . He was just a trembling ball of fur. Scared and shy as I was. That night, lying in bed before sleep... ...l felt the beating of his heart against my body. And though I didn't know it then, he was to change my life forever. My dog, Skip. My best and most steadfast friend. Skip and I instantly became the best of friends. He didn't mind that I was scrawny and shy... ...or that I liked books a whole lot more than football. It was unconditional love on both our parts. You've grown almost inches. You could talk to him as well as you could talk to many human beings. And much better than you could talk to some. He'd sit down, look you straight in the eye... ...and when he understood you, he'd turn his head sideways. I watched Skip grow from the puppy who came to me from a farm... ...into a sleek and dexterous, affectionate dog. Skip became a true member of the family. We played games together, did household chores. That's my boy. Even my father had to admit... ... Skip was an exceptional dog. What? -Look at that, Margaret! -Take a look at that! Honk the horn, Skip! Yes, sir. Or should I say, "yes, sirs"? Pound of sausage, please. I have our coupons. Think your friend there might like a piece of bologna? I never met a dog that didn't appreciate a good piece of bologna. Nobody has to know about that but us. -Did you have those chops? -Yes, ma'am. Coming right up. Is this your dog? Skipper. Skip, for short. He's sweet. Rivers, let's go. Yes, ma'am. See you at school. Yeah. See you. Looks like he done did you a favor. Skip, I can't see a thing. I'm sorry. -Skip, where are you, boy? -Find a seat! Hey, cutie! -Come on down, boy. -Sit down! -Down! -Will you sit down, please? Why don't you sit down? Your dog's sitting. I'm real sorry. I usually just let him choose the seats. I seen. He's sitting by Rivers Applewhite. I can't believe it! The world ain't fair, I'm telling you. I guess girls must really go for dogs. Freedom... ...means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. How long does it take mail to get to Europe? Where in Europe? Where Dink is. Foxhole in the south of France. Are you for Roosevelt, boy? What do you think about Hitler? Mrs. Jenkins, it's us. Come on in, fellas. Be right with you. Another letter already? You know how to throw a curve? Dink's gonna show me when he gets home. Who's Dink? Where are you from? Mars? Nope. Right across town over there. And you haven't heard of Dink Jenkins? He's only the best ballplayer anywhere around here. Ever. Well, you haven't seen Waldo Grace. He a colored boy? Yep, and the best in the whole world. Besides Dink. He likes you. You got mail! From overseas. Look at this. Oh, boy! "And he said to his sons, 'Saddle the ass for me.' So they saddled the ass for him and mounted it. " This right here is a musket used in the Civil War. Now, then... ...we have time for just one more. -Who would like to be next? -I have a show-and-tell. This right here is a German army helmet. Inside it says, "Hans" . It's a dead Kraut's helmet. That ain't no real Kraut helmet. This is an ammo belt with some writing. It says: "Gott mit uns, " which means, "God with us" in German. They think God's on their side? That right there proves the stuff's not real. And this is a letter... ...from a real GI fighting overseas. "Dear Willie: Boy, was I ever happy to get your letter and news of home. I can't wait to meet Skip. He sounds like a world-class dog. I can't tell you exactly where I am... ...but I can tell you they don't serve French fries in France. Hint, hint. And that all Kraut is sauerkraut, if you ask me. Ha-ha-ha. Keep those letters coming, Willie-boy. And don't let anybody go breaking my records while I'm gone. We'll have these boys licked soon... ...and I'll be home in time for baseball season. Signed, your friend and neighbor... ...Private First-Class... ...Dink Jenkins. " I read my letter from Dink today. Where'd you really get that stuff, you big sissy? Give me that damn letter! Get up and fight! We playing ball or not? You want your stuff back? Then you gotta play ball. Twenty-four, hut! Go out with it. Touchdown! Get him! Stay with him! Look! Look! Did you see that? They scored. Get up! I don't care if you're hurt! Take the ball. I don't care. I told you. Stay up here with the ball! Run! Run! Run! Might as well stay down there. You're not doing any good. Okay, it's our ball. Get the ball! You little baby. Fourteen, ... ... . Set. Hut, hut. Get the ball, Will! Get the ball, Will! Run! Run! Run for touchdown! Run, Will, run! Run for touchdown! Run! Run! We won, Skip! We scored a touchdown! Dog pile! Not a bad run, Willie, for a sissy. You missed! Throw it higher. If I throw any harder, I'll break the window. I bet he's asleep. What is it, boy? -He probably sleeps with teddy bears. -I hate teddy bears. -Or with his mom. -Bet he's still got his baby blanket. There he is. Nice pajamas. Come on down. I better not. Don't make me come up there and get you, "Wilma" . Little baby! I'll be right down. Bring that Kraut stuff. And the dog. And clean underwear, if you scare easy. It's you, Skip. You scared me there, boy. Go on back to bed. Go on. Big Boy. Spit. Where y'all at? You want to be one of us? Maybe. I mean... ...I guess. Then you gotta pass the test. Where are we going? You know who's buried here, don't you? My uncle's buried here. No, stupid. The witch. The witch of Yazoo. That's just an old wives' tale. That's what you think, buster. She was a genuine witch. Everybody knows she used to lure men to her house to kill them. Why, she even let her cats... ...Iick their bones after she got done with them. That is, until she got killed herself. You sure you wanna be one of us? I guess. One night, a boy about our age... ...Iooked through her window... ...and what he saw chilled him right to the bone. He saw her murder two men with her bare hands. The boy ran and told the cops... ...and they got up a posse and chased that witch into Miller's swamp. Before they could catch her, she got stuck in quicksand. And slowly, as she sank in the quicksand... ...she swore two things: First... ...one day she'd rise up from the grave and burn down the whole town! And the other thing she swore was... ...she'd find that boy who ratted on her and drag him down to hell! If you stay all night, we'll know for sure that you're one of us. But if you don't... ...Dink's Kraut stuff is ours. And if we do stay all night... ...we get the football signed by Dink. You got yourself a deal. Here. You might need this. Come on, Skip. I'll take the first watch, boy. You rest. I give him minutes. If he stays... ...he's a better man than me. And if she kills him... ...I got dibs on that dog. A sunbeam Jesus wants me for a sunbeam A sunbeam I'll be a sunbeam for Him Oh, no! -Junior, we did real good this week. -Just hurry up. If we get to lzzard County, they'll pay twice as much. Those boys get real thirsty out there. Don't you know it! What the hell you doing? Put that back. -I'm keeping a bottle for myself. -You're drinking up all the profits. Moonshiners! Millard, shut that mutt up. Hey, doggy! Who's a nice doggy? I'm good with dogs. Shut him up, unless you want to go back to the joint. Goddamn it! I'll take care of this mutt! -What was that? -Let's get out of here, Skip! Run! Get that kid! Come on, Skip! It's no use, kid! I'm gonna find you! Let's get out of here, Skip. Where do you think you're going? Listen to me, you little worm. You tell anybody where we're hiding this... ...you'll wake up to find a dead pooch on your porch. See... ...I been needing me a new billfold. I think one made out of genuine dog hide would be right slick. Now, you look like a smart kid. You move one little pinkie before the sun comes up... ...you better think hard about life without that mutt. Everybody needs a friend. Come on. Think I scared him enough? I think he peed his pants. Gonna have to change those shorts. Damn! He killed a whole six-pack! He slept right by her grave. Damn! Because of Skip, I was able to cross... ... the threshold from childhood to boyhood... ...from being on the outside... ... to finding myself smack-dab in the middle. He helped open my eyes to the wonders of life. And I got to know the delta like the palm of my hand. Every bend in the road, every slope, every field. It became as familiar to me as grass or sunlight. But Skip opened my eyes to other things too. -Sorry we're late. -That's okay. I was late too. He likes you. I like him too. A lot. Huck Finn. It's about a boy who has adventures. This is Caddie Woodlawn. It's about a girl who has adventures. Not too many boys like reading. I do. I'm thinking of becoming a writer. Either that or a U.S. senator. One of those. I'll probably be a writer too. Or a pilot. Or maybe even a senator's wife. Something like that. Well, I haven't really decided yet. Me neither. Hey, Skip! Hello there, Skip. Skip grew to know Yazoo too. It was a good place to grow up for dogs as well as boys. Being friendly, he occasionally wandered around town by himself... ...and anyone of any consequence knew who he was. One of Skip's favorite spots was my dear old Aunt Maggie's. Her bridge games meant finger sandwiches for the taking. And the strange creature that was her pet... ... was an endless source of one-sided conversation. Lordy, Lordy! Lord have mercy! Lordy, Lordy! Lord have mercy! Y'all come back! Like all dogs, Skip was colorblind. He made friends easily with people of all races and origins. The town was segregated back then... ...but as we know, dogs are a whole lot smarter than people. That's Waldo Grace. Nice and easy. That's it. That's my Skip. Come on, boy. Bye. -Any of y'all heard of Waldo Grace? -Who? Waldo Grace. Colored boy. They say he's better than Dink. You shut up. They say he's good at every sport. Let me tell you. Nobody around here can beat Dink at nothing. Especially no colored boy. I'd like to see how good he is. Who's that man with the black mask? He doesn't belong to the special army. After him, men! Uncle Sam is looking for a few good... ...dogs! That's right. Some ofAmerica's bravest soldiers salute by wagging their tails. Yankee Doodle doggies from all over... ...have dedicated their lives to winning the war. Members of the Army's crack K- Corps... ...undergo a training as rigorous as that of our fighting men. Take that, Adolf! We're not pulling your leg. We mean business! But not all of our four-legged Gls make it home. Even the youngsters do their part. Para-pups, they're called, and they aid our boys in the air. Who says dogs can't fly? Safe and sound on the ground. Another successful mission. After a hard day's work, these puppies need some R and R. Front and center, Fido. Enlist today! Hup ! Hup ! We'll bomb them, and then come down here to Libya... ...and bomb the rest of the guys. You got it? Go! Go! Go! Way to go, Skip! Those are the bad guys. The Germans. Hitler! You want to kill Hitler! He's ready. That's about inches high. That's tall for a terrier. He's a real good eater, sir. I'm sure. I see. What? Mr. Morris... ...this is as fine an animal as I've ever had the chance to encounter. Sir, thank you, sir. And I know Uncle Sam could use him, except he's -F. -F? Yes, canine -F. You see, his left testicle hasn't descended. But I appreciate you bringing him in. Lieutenant, sir... ...Skip would like another chance. He obeys orders really well and-- I really appreciate your patriotism... ...but I've got work to do. Sit. Sit! Roll over. Play dead! Canine -F! I can't believe it. He obeys orders really well, I know. And he can do all those tricks. I don't know what got into him. Maybe he just got scared. You saying my dog's a chicken? I'm not saying your dog's chicken. I'm saying maybe he got scared. Dink's coming home! My boy's coming home! Yes, Dink's coming home! Bet he's got a bag of medals. Is he there? ls he there on the bus? Well, I don't see him. There he is! Welcome home, sugar! He just missed the bus, that's all. It's okay. He'll be on the next bus. What's wrong? Look, a cigarette wrapper! One little old piece of tinfoil ain't gonna win no scrap drive. You know, it's been two whole weeks... ...and Dink hasn't even come out of his house yet. Willie, when you saw him, was he wearing his uniform? Was he wounded? It was really dark. I couldn't tell for sure. But I bet he's got a lot of medals to show us when he gets ready. My old man said he didn't win no medals at all. Yeah, my pop says he's a drunk. I heard worse than that. I heard he turned tail and ran. Broke his own record in the -yard dash. Where are you going? What's eating him? Watch out for the poison oak there. Can almost taste that blackberry pie already. Should be some nice, thick bushes in around here. Now, look. See that hickory over yonder? The one that looks like he's got a broken arm? That's lightning. Now, see, you always want to leave a mark... ...so you can find your way home. Dad? Whatever happened to your leg? Now, you know what happened to my leg. Lost it in the Spanish Civil War... ...when you was just a baby. Where is it now, you think? Well, somewheres in Catalonia, I suppose. Does it ever itch or hurt? You know, like the way they say? It hurts. But they gave you a medal for it, right? I'd rather have the leg. Now, look there. There's an old gray squirrel. Go get him, boy! You almost got him, boy. Hunters. Take a knee. Real slow. Hello! Over here! : ! Don't move! We'll come to you! Was the war like this? Boys. Would you look at that? She's something, all right. Or was. Daddy... . She's still alive. Shouldn't we call a vet or something? We better get going. Come on. Come on. Y'all come by for some venison chili now, real soon. Will do. The seasons in our region ofAmerica seemed to have minds of their own. The fields in winter looked so barren... ... that it seemed nothing could ever grow there again... ...like the dark sky would last the rest of the year. Then, magically, spring would come... ...and catch us by surprise every time. And there were so many surprises that year. Who'd have thought that my daddy would ever let me play football? Who'd have dreamed that Rivers Applewhite... ... the prettiest girl in town, would let me hold her hand? It's a funny book. It was indeed a strange and unusual time. Old Skip had helped me through the struggles of boyhood. But his job was far from done. And now... ...wearing the famous number eight... ...it's Willie Morris! Morris! Morris! No, Skip! This is only an official regulation uniform... ...Iike they wear in the bigs. Haven't seen you around much. I've been pretty busy. I'm playing some ball now, you know. Oh, yeah? That's good. Right. Well, see you. It's opening day. That's what they call the first game of the season. I was sort of wondering if... . I was hoping that maybe... ...you might come. Yeah, sure, kid. That'd be fine. Really? Okay. Great. Well, I better get on down there. See you. Thanks for picking my number. Come on, Spit! Dadgum it, Morris! How many times do I have to tell you... ...this is no place for dogs? Now get him out of here! This isn't a game, you know. It ain't? Get him out of here. Come on, Skip. Go sit by Rivers, okay? Hey, Skip. You can sit by me. Be a hitter now. Make him pitch to you. Watch him close! Morris, you're on deck. Let's go, Cliff. Let's go, now. He's on deck. That's the way, Cliff. Watch him close. Good swing! Good swing! Willie, you're so dreamy! Aren't you embarrassed to be wearing Dink's number? I know I wouldn't be caught dead wearing that crazy eight. -How about you, Henj? -No way. Did y'all hear Dink's gonna play minor-league ball? Really? He's gonna be the star runner for the Memphis Chickens! Well, let's go, son! We don't got all day. Play ball! Watch the ball, son. Strike one! Strike two! Come on, Willie! You can do it, honey! Strike three! You're out of there! That's okay, Willie. Let's go. Next batter. Swing, batter, batter! Swing, batter, batter. Swing! It's all right, Willie! He's upset. I wish there was some way we could help. Get out of here! We're trying to play baseball! Time! Get that dog out of here! Get out of here! You're supposed to be by Rivers! Get that dog out of here! We're trying to play ball. Skip, get! Go home! Now! You're being bad! Now go! Go home! Willie, what's wrong with you?! I'm home! Skip, I'm home. Where are you? Where are you, boy? Here, Skipper! Here, boy! Barney, have you seen Skip? Well, let me see... . He came in for bologna this morning. On his way to the ball game, I believe. If you see him, can you tell him I'm looking for him? Don't you go worrying about him. He'll turn up. You know, that dog is plumb crazy about you, boy. Junior, how come I end up carrying all the crates? Because you're the worker, and I'm the brains of this operation. How's that? Because I can spell my name. Let's move it. We got people waiting. I just wish you'd get us our money. Just come on now. Come on. I don't do this for free. Shut your trap. I'm sick of your whining. Shut up and lift. Come on. Have you seen Skip? I can't find him. I wouldn't blame him if he never came back... ...after the way you treated him! He was only trying to help. Please help me. I just got to find him. Okay. I'll be right down. But, Willie... ...I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for him. Where are you? Come on home, boy! Yeah, and school. The baseball and football fields too. And the park. Deserters... ...puppy dogs and now girls. Guess we were wrong about you, Wilma. Skip's lost. We gotta find him. Won't you help us find him? "Won't you help us find him?" Listen, Skip's missing. We're gonna find him. You want to help? Fine. You don't? You can stick it up your big, fat butt. Who said I didn't want to help? Let's go. Spread out. Look everywhere, and ask everyone. Skip been around here? Not for a couple days. Here, Skip. Skip, are you here? Here, Skip. Come on home, boy! Here, Skipper! Sheriff, Jack Morris. Well, my son's little dog, Skip, has gone missing and... . Yeah, they're all out looking for him, but he hasn't turned up yet. So I was wondering if you could just let us know if you see him. We would surely appreciate it. Thank you, sheriff. You bawling like a big baby because you lost that ball game? What do you know about it? You didn't even come, you big liar. Leave me alone. That's how it is, isn't it? You're a hero today... ...and you're a goat tomorrow. Now, I didn't come, because games don't mean nothing to me anymore. It's not the game. It's Skip. He's gone for good. For good? How you know that? You some kind of fortuneteller? I got mad at him and I hit him. And he ran away. Just like you ran away. Skip was never afraid of nothing. You think I don't know what folks are saying? That old Dink's a coward? Well, I know. And you know what? They're right. I got scared. And I ran. You think it's because I was afraid of dying? Because I wished I was dead plenty of times. Then what was it? It ain't the dying that's scary, boy. It's the killing. Now, look. That dog ain't lost. You just need to know where to find him. There's gotta be at least one place around here... ...that you hadn't thought of to look at, right? Sometimes he gets mad and says things he doesn't mean. He gets it from his mother. When I got back from Spain... ...I got into accounting. I figured I could hide this behind a desk. I looked down, and I didn't so much as look up for a whole year. When I finally did... ...people weren't staring at me anymore. I guess they kind of forgot about it. Well, Mr. Morris, you got a Purple Heart. I got a yellow stripe. You can trust me. They don't forget about cowards. Well, folks like to keep things small, Dink. Fit you into one pocket or the other. Give a man a label... ...and you never really need to get to know him. My son... ...he looks up to you, Dink. Not because you can run or throw a ball. You're his hero... ...because you're his friend. And that's what he needs. A friend. All right, then. Here, Skipper! Here, boy! Here, boy! What the hell?! Damn mutt. What'd you do to him?! That's my dog! I told you to keep that damn mutt out of here. Why, if it ain't old Dink. Need a jar of hooch, buddy? Millard, fetch a pint for Dink. Listen, you boys need to get on out of here. This your buddy? You know how much he and that mongrel cost us? I said you need to get out of here. Millard, listen to who's talking. Mr. Hitler's best friend. It's you who better get out of here. Get your moonshine and get out of here. And I better never see you around here again. Got that? Come on, Junior. Let's go. Come on! It's getting too damn popular around here anyway. You better hope that dog lives. Any word? It doesn't look good. Could you come on back, please? Do you want someone to go with you? He's a big boy. He'll be okay. Is he gonna die? I don't know. I've done all I can. It's in God's hands now. Please don't die, boy. What would I do without you? You taught me how to play football. You helped me meet the guys... ...and get up enough nerve to talk to Rivers. And understand about Dink. I'll never have another friend like you. Ever. Skip's gonna be all right. You're all right! That's my boy. I love you, Skip. I knew you'd make it. I almost lost old Skip that day. Even as he was sleeping on the operating table... ...he was still teaching me. That day... ...l became a young man. Why, in childhood and youth... ...do we wish time to pass so quickly? We want to grow up so fast. Yet as adults, we wish just the opposite. You're a good boy, Skip. If, as the authorities often declare... ...a dog's life in relation to a human being's... ...can be calculated by seven human years to his one... ... then Skip was an adult when I was still a boy. Sometimes it seemed as if he possessed the wisdom of a creature... ...as old as time. All the lessons you learn in childhood... ...kind of come in waves. We finally saw Waldo Grace play. And play, and play, and play. In remembering moments such as these... ...l retain the sad, sweet reflection... ...of being an only child and having a loyal and loving dog. For the struggles of my life... ...of the dangers, toils and snares of my childhood hymns... ...loyalty and love... ...are the best things of all... ...and surely the most lasting. The day finally arrived for me to move away from home. I was awarded a scholarship to attend Oxford University in England. A long way from Yazoo, Mississippi... ...and a long way from my family and friends. The dog of your boyhood... ... teaches you a great deal about friendship and love and death. I was an only child. He was an only dog. Old Skip was ... ...and feeble with arthritis... ...but he never lost that old devilish look in his eye. He made my room his own. Came across an old photo of him not long ago. His little face... ... with the long snout sniffing at something in the air. His tail was straight out and pointing... ...eyes were flashing in some momentary excitement. He always loved to be rubbed on the back of his neck. And when I did it, he'd yawn, and he'd stretch... ...reach out to me with his paws... ...as if he was trying to embrace me. I received a transatlantic call one day. "Skip died"... ...Daddy said. He and my mama wrapped him in my baseball jacket. They buried him out under our elm tree, they said. That wasn't totally true... ...for he really lay buried... ...in my heart.