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My Little Buddy, Johnny

For several years, Mizuki has been baby-sitting a little boy by the name of Johnny. He is a cute little kid with an unfortunate family situation. His mother abandoned the family when he was quite young, leaving his father to raise Johnny as best he could. Mizuki was introduced to them and became a family friend.

Naturally, her maternal instincts emerged and she began to care for Johnny more and more — to the point that Johnny now thinks of her as his "Momma". Of course, I was dragged along for the ride — but I must admit I have enjoyed it.

Johnny comes to our home frequently and stays overnight a couple nights each week. He has gotten to know me and feels comfortable with me — so that I can give Mizuki a break if she needs to work on her auctions or just a relaxation break. We have a few toys at our house and I play with him but what he really enjoys is going swimming (our community pool is very close) or to a park.


On this particular day, I took Johnny up to Scottsdale to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Their website claims that is "the most unique park of its kind in the country". I am not certain that claim is true but Johnny sure enjoys it.

One of its attractions is an old fashioned carousel with horses that go up and down. You can tell by his grin that Johnny loves it. It runs every half hour during the week and continually on the weekends and only costs one ticket per rider. Tickets are $1.00 but can be purchased in a booklet of 12 for $10.00.

About the time the carousel comes to a stop, it is time to climb aboard the train — or more accurately aboard the Paradise and Pacific Railroad. From their website, it "was the first attraction to the park and continues to be its centerpiece. It is built and operated as an exact 5/12 (5 inches equals one foot) reproduction of a Colorado narrow gauge railroad. The Paradise and Pacific Railroad carries delighted passengers throughout the park on a one-mile track. The railroad features three steam locomotives, 2 diesel engines, several scale model cars, a turntable, water tank, trestles, and a 32 x 200 train shed providing protection from the elements. The train shed also houses a complete machine shop for building and maintaining the railroad."

One car in the train is a boxcar, just the right size for the kids — but too small for adults. Johnny seemed a little timid inside when the train first started up, as if he were regretting his enthusiasm for jumping into the boxcar rather than sitting with me in one of the open flatbed cars.

But it did not take long before he found companionship — noisy companionship among the other kids in the boxcar. By the end of the ride, he did not want to come out — even though all we had to do was go to the head of the line and surrender two more tickets each.

After riding the rails, nothing soothes the nerves like an ice cream cone.

And nothing soothes the nerves of a photographer like getting a good shot of a kid eating an ice cream cone.

It caused me to reminisce about another time many years ago when I captured an ice cream cone shot that has long been one of my favorites — click here if you would like to see it. The subject, Jennifer, is the daughter of my good long-time friend John. She is now fully grown and lives in the Phoenix area.


Almost done — of course that is when it starts getting messy. Who cares? That is what napkins, moist wipes and washing machines were invented for.

In addition to the carousel and the train, there is a huge playground with age-appropriate equipment so that the young ones and the older kids are both satisfied.

Of course, one of the great experiences of childhood is riding the slides — here a spiral one that seems to have Johnny's approval.

No playground would be complete without climbing bars that make parents and pseudo-parents worry about falls and possible injury. But just try to keep the kid off and you will probably get an injury yourself.

One of Johnny's favorites is a slide that uses rollers instead of a smooth surface to allow the child to enjoy gravity. On a subsequent summertime visit, I realized that the rollers also help with another playground hazard — the hot, hot surfaces on the slides. Since the rollers are kept moving by the kids going down, no one spot of each roller will get too hot in the Arizona summer sun.

Looking back — it was a good day — don't you agree, little buddy?

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com