Ribsy and the Lube Job
One warm Saturday morning in August, Henry Huggins and his mother and father were eating breakfast in their square white house on Klickitat Street. Henry's dog Ribsy sat close to Henry's chair, hoping for a handout. While Mr. and Mrs. Huggins listened to the nine o'clock news on the radio, Henry tried to think of something interesting he could do that day. Of course he could play ball with Scooter or ride his bicycle over to Robert's house and work on the model railroad, but those were things he could do every day. Today he wanted to do something different, something he had never done before.
Before Henry thought of anything interesting to do, the radio announcer finished the news and four men began to sing. Henry, who heard this program every Saturday, sang with them.
"Woofies Dog Food is the best,
Contains more meat than all the rest.
So buy your dog a can today
And watch it chase his blues away.
Woof, woof, woof, Woofies!"
Then the sound of a dog barking came out of the radio.
"R-r-r-wuf!" said Ribsy, looking at the radio.
The announcer's voice cut in. "Is your dog a member of the family?" he asked.
"He sure is!" exclaimed Henry to the radio. "He's the best dog there is."
"Henry, for goodness' sake, turn that down," said Mrs. Huggins, as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "And by the way, Henry, speaking of good dogs reminds me that Mrs. Green said Ribsy ran across the new lawn she just planted. She said he left deep paw prints all the way across."
"Aw, he didn't mean to hurt her old lawn. He wasjust . . ." Henry remembered that Ribsy had run across the lawn because he was chasing the Grumbies' cat. "He was just in a hurry," he finished lamely. "You're a good dog, aren't you, Ribsy?"
Thump, thump, thump went Ribsy's tail on the rug.
"We think he's a good dog, but the neighbors won't if he runs across new lawns and chases cats," said Mr. Huggins.
Henry looked sharply at his father and wondered how he knew about Ribsy's chasing the Grumbies' cat. At the same time he couldn't see why Ribsy was to blame about the lawn. The cat ran across it first, didn't she? "Well, anyway, Ribsy doesn't keep everybody awake barking at night, like that collie in the next block," said Henry.
"Just the same, you better keep an eye on him. We don't want him to be a nuisance to the neighbors." Mr. Huggins laid his napkin beside his plate. "Well, I guess I'll take the car down to the service station for a lube job."
That gave Henry an idea. Here was his chance to do something he had never done before, something he had always wanted to do when his father had the car greased.
"Oh, boy, I . . ." Henry paused because it occurred to him that his mother might not like his idea. He had better wait and ask his father when they got to the service station. "Can I go?" he asked eagerly.
"Sure," answered Mr. Huggins. "Come along."
"Woofies Dog Food is the best," sang Henry, as he and Ribsy climbed into the front seat of the car. Henry sat in the middle beside his father, because Ribsy liked to lean out the window and sniff all the interesting smells. Henry was happy to be going someplace, even just to the service station, with his father. He always had a grownup, man-to-man feeling when they were alone together. He wished his father had time to take him places oftener.
As they drove toward the service station they passed the Rose City Sporting Goods Shop, where Henry noticed the windows filled with tennis rackets, golf clubs, and fishing tackle. Fishing tackle -- that gave Henry a second idea. "Say, Dad," he said, I was wondering if you plan to go fishing pretty soon."
"I expect I will." Mr. Huggins stopped at a red light. "Hector Grumbie and I thought we'd go salmon fishing sometime in September. Why?"
"How about taking me along this year?" Henry tried to sound grown-up and casual.
Mr. Huggins drove past the Supermarket and turned into Al's Thrifty Service Station. "We'll see, he said.
Boy, oh, boy, thought Henry, as he and Ribsy got out of the car near the grease rack. When his father said, "We'll see," he meant, "Yes, unless something unusual happens." If he had said, "Ask your mother," it would mean he didn't care whether Henry went fishing or not. But -- "We'll see!" Henry could see himself sitting in a boat reeling in a salmon -- a Chinook salmon. He could see himself having his picture taken beside his fish and could hear people saying, "Yes, this is Henry Huggins, the boy who caught the enormous Chinook salmon."
When Mr. Huggins had arranged with Al, the owner of the station, to have the car lubricated, he turned to Henry and said, I have to go to the bank and do a few errands. Are you coming with me or do you want to wait here?"
Henry had been so busy thinking about fishing that he had almost forgotten why he came to the filling station in the first place. He looked at the car beside the grease rack and hesitated. Maybe it was a silly idea. Still, it was something he had always wanted to do. "Say . . . uh, Dad, do you suppose I could stay in the car and ride up on the grease rack?"
Mr. Huggins and Al both laughed. "You know, I always wanted to do the same thing when I was a kid," said Mr. Huggins. "It's all right with me, but maybe Al won't think it's such a good idea." Henry and Ribsy
. Copyright © by Beverly Cleary. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.