How Now, Black-and-White Cow?

THE dairy store was one of the most popular hangouts in our town, and my kid brother, Rick, liked to go there so he could ride the big black-and-white cow. It was the only plaster cow anywhere around and stood there looking friendly and almost alive.

Rick has a big imagination, and he told me Cow knew everything that happened on the street. Let me tell you more about Ricky. In the kindergarten play, he could have been a knight, but he told his teacher he'd rather be a tree because all the birds would come and visit. ``Besides,'' he said, ``I bet all that armor'd be hot.''

As it worked out, Rick got to play the tree, and he did a good job. Dad liked Rick's tree character because Dad's an environmentalist. But when Mom told Rick he was her ``sweet tree,'' he didn't go for that much!

Now to get back to Cow. You might say she was a victim of redevelopment. See, the whole town was undergoing great changes. Most everyone thought it was neat to see the town turned into a old-time Victorian town. Buildings were painted super colors, and the Chamber of Commerce people started setting up booths and holding sidewalk sales. TV commercials and movies were even being filmed in our downtown! The dairy store wanted to get in on all this improvement.

So Fred, the dairy store owner, and Matt, his helper who looks like old Rip van Winkle, talked about how to get things moving. Fred's always asking Matt what he thinks. I was standing around waiting for Rick to get finished riding Cow, and I heard Fred say: ``It's time for a change. Matt, we've gotta enlarge the store. How `bout a deli counter and more specialty foods? I'd go for a small juice bar with healthy snacks. It's time to modernize! Matt, what do you think?''

For sure, Fred knew that Matt would go for his idea, since that's the way it is with those guys. ``OK!'' said Matt. ``Let's bring in some wrought-iron benches for out front, with pots of geraniums and ... let's see, why not a mechanical rocking horse for the kids?'' Matt and Fred seemed excited and asked us what we thought.

``All right!'' I said. ``The little kids'll sure go for the horse idea!''

Rick said, ``Neato,'' but didn't seem too impressed. It wasn't long at all till the store was enlarged. A juice bar was built, the deli counter was added, and some iron benches sat in front. I thought it looked cool, and Dad said our street looked first-rate. It was a couple of days after this when things changed for Rick, or maybe I should say for Cow.

A truck drove up to the dairy store and two men unloaded a fantastic mechanical horse. It had all this shiny brown paint, a blue saddle, and gold and red trimming. It looked like those horses on a merry-go-round, and when Matt put in a quarter, there was music like ``Banbury Cross'' or something.

Matt and Fred stood around with big grins on their faces. Some little kids had fun riding the horse, but when Rick took his turn he said it was ``made for babies.'' When I talked about his riding Cow, Rick said that was different, and ``Cow doesn't play silly songs!''

It was about a week later when Mom gave us the latest info from the dairy store. ``Well, boys, Matt and Fred say Cow doesn't fit in with the new benches and the beautiful horse.'' We weren't surprised at what happened next.

In a couple of days a pickup truck drove up to take Cow away. ``Cow has always lived here. I wonder where she will live now?'' Rick asked.

Two men put Cow inside the truck. I finished my soda, and Ricky looked worried. Matt asked if we wanted to ride along with Cow, and when I phoned Mom and asked her permission, she said it was a good idea. I'll admit I didn't care that much about taking a ride next to old Cow, but Rick was keen on the idea, so off we went.

The pickup had seen better days and gave us a bumpy ride. When we asked the men where we were going, they just told us we'd find out soon. Rick and I got quiet. We passed Fountain Square and all the new-looking stores. We went by Old Oaks Hotel, the school, and Church Row. We drove by the auto-parts store and then out past the lumber yard.

The truck driver started talking to his friend. ``It's too bad about the cow. She didn't look right standing there in front of the fancy deli, with the brand new horse and things, but in a way, Fred hated to get rid of her.''

I told them the town wouldn't be the same without Cow, and Ricky just held on to Cow's leg as we bumped along. The truck went over the railroad tracks and came to a junkyard. It had a few good tires and pipes and stuff, but it was mostly a horrible mess. Rick said, ``Ick! Not here! This is an ugly place!'' I'm glad to say we didn't stop, but lumbered along past the junkyard and the old, wrecked railroad station to a country road.

It was then I yelled pretty loud. ``How about this, Ricky?'' We'd come to a huge white building with a fence all around and fields with trees and a swing.

``Wow!'' said Rick, and he said it again. The truck stopped and we read the big sign, DE-LITE DAIRY. Cow was carried outside and stood right next to the sign. She sure looked great there. You can believe that Rick and I approved of her new home at the De-Lite Dairy. Ricky said he had a feeling Cow was happy, and as we drove off, we both waved goodbye to our friend, Cow. `Kidspace' is a place on The Home Forum pages where kids can find stories that will spark imaginations, entertain with a tall tale, explain how things work, or describe a real-life event. These articles appear twice a month, usually on Tuesdays.

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