One of the girls on the tour came from Wisconsin, and she agreed to mail the thing from there to collect the postmark, using the Margie Miller address I knew Dad had used. When I got home, I spoke not a word about musical toilet paper holders.
August 1959. School would start soon and I slept late when I still could. I heard Mom get off the phone and come into my room. “I just talked with Dad,” she said. “Mrs. Miller told him she got a package from Northern Tissue. Some kind of musical toilet paper holder. Mrs. Miller thinks it’s worth something.”
“Yeah, five bucks from a high school kid.” I sat up and told Mom the whole story. She loved it, calling Dad right back and suggesting he ask Mrs. Miller to bring the thing to work the next day so he could heft it home and show it to us.
The following afternoon my magical device arrived in a shopping bag with Dad. Having tipped my brother off before Dad got there, we gathered round the kitchen table. Imaginary drumroll. He hoisted the musical toilet paper holder out of the sack and set it down, turning the paper roller so it played its mawkish, perfect tune. We stood transfixed.
Then Mom, poker-faced, turned to me and said, “I thought you told me it had a strawberry painted on it. That’s more of a clover.”
Dad’s eyebrows pinched.
“Guess you’re right,” I answered. Then I spurted out a laugh, and so did Mom and Ter. And then Dad.
I got him. Forget seeing London, Paris and Rome. Greatest triumph of my life.