In 1945, when my dad was 6 years old, he sent away to the Ovaltine company for a Captain Midnight Secret Squadron Decoder Badge. It never came. This became something of a family legend. My dad as a small boy, going to the mail box every day, waiting for the badge that never arrived.
Yesterday, 63 years later, dad got his badge. It took me a lot of looking to find one still in very good shape, but I finally found one that was solid and shiny. The center wheel that controls the code still spins smoothly. The pinback seemed to be the biggest problem. Most of the ones I looked at had the pin broken from the back. But this one was in great shape. You'd never believe the thing was over six decades old.
Because of various scheduling conflicts, we ended up celebrating father's day a week early, so I was able to give dad his badge yesterday morning at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Marietta.
Dad was stunned. I've seldom seen him that taken aback. He just kept turning the badge over in his fingers, looking at the details and marveling at the condition. 63 years is a long time to wait for something. I had considered mailing it to him , doctoring up a padded mailer as if the badge had just been lost in the mail for all this time and had finally found its way to him. But then I thought, what if this one gets lost in the mail too?
And besides, I wouldn't have gotten to see his face when he opened the package. He knew what it was instantly. A dream from long ago. I think that's the best present I ever got him. Maybe that I ever got anyone.