That was a little black dog named Muffin. When the days were hot, Muffin's family all went to the country. We're off to the country, they said, and you're going, too, Muffin.
Thus begins a record I must have listened to a thousand times when I was a kid. Muffin's family loads him in a "travel box" where he can't see outside, but he can hear. The rest of the record (both sides of a small 78) is a series of sounds, followed by the narrator's voice asking, "What was that?" over and over and over again.
My brother gave me a stack of old records some years ago, and Muffin in the Country, as it is called, was among them. I was delighted to have it, although the record doesn't play all that well anymore, since my brothers once tried (successfully, I must admit) to play it with a straight pin as they manually spun the turntable. We did mange to listen to it, however, and more importantly, Ben taped it so that Tom and Julie could listen to it. It is almost as familiar to them as it is to me; so much so that for a while "Muffin" was in the running as a name for Rufus, because he is a little black dog, after all.
Last month, when Ben and I were at the flea market in Hartville, I was looking at a booth full of old chilren's books when I found a paperback called The Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown, an author best known for writing the children's classic, Goodnight Moon. I picked it up because I loved the graphic style of the cover. It was a re-print of a book first printed in 1939, and it seemed very 30's-bustling-big-city to me.
Imagine my delight when it turned out to be a book about a little black dog named Muffin! The format was very similar to my beloved record. Poor Muffin got a cinder in his eye, and when his family took him to the vet, a bandage was put over his eyes until he was healed. So, once again, Muffin couldn't see, but Muffin could hear - all the sounds of the big city, as it turned out.
I started sifting through the stacks of books to see if I could find, possibly, Muffin in the Country, as well. And I did, under the title, Country Noisy Book. I also found an indoor noisy book and a winter noisy book. I think I bought all four of them for two dollars.
What a find! Are these books worth more than I paid for them? They are not. But how delighted I am to have them anyway.