Well, I never contracted polio, but I did get two more of those shots; bad things always come in threes. Confederate General Jeb Stuart said: “Always mystify, mislead, and confuse your enemy.” I did the best I could, but they got me every time. In 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk received the Nobel Prize for his polio vaccine. I thought it should have gone to Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the oral vaccine served up on a sugar cube, what a guy.

Oh, yes, in spite of violating my contract with Mom, I did get my airplane ride. It was in a two-place high wing airplane flown from that cinder strip. It must have been a Cessna One-fifty, but that didn’t keep Dad from going along too. He was six foot six, so he and the pilot stuffed me in the back. We took off toward the east into the big hill. How we made it, I’ll never know, but that is how they did things back then, I guess. I saw my house from the air, and the doctor’s office too. How small it all looked to me then.

I always promised the doctor that I’d grow up to be a bomber pilot, someday and bomb the hell out of his place. Someday came and went, and I never flew a bomber, but I did fly a gun-ship and took sardonic pleasure in practicing gun-runs on that place years later.

Doc, Dad, and Halley are dead now. The hideous chamber of pain is now a Sears catalog store, and someone is probably swilling Budweiser from the remnants of the old Cessna, and a factory sits in the middle of the old cinder strip.

When my own kids got their shots, the doctor rushed in with the miniature needles in hand and said: “where do you want it?” It was over in seconds; they never knew what hit’em. Me, well, I never wanted to be a doctor, but I’m still flying a Cessna.