What do curious kids, a gold tooth mule, and a junk collector add up to? The young children who follow Smiley the mule on his rounds are astounded with the answer and surprise ending. So will you!

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When I was a kid in Port Chester, NY, an old gray-bearded African-American man with a horse and buggy collected rags and other junk from our neighborhood. I was told he had a beautiful home on the outskirts of town and was quite well off. The reason I mentioned this is that there were very few opportunities for blacks to succeed in our area at the time. The only works available for them were menial jobs or hard labor. In the story I also wrote about a rug shop that was next door to my bungalow in Reno, Nevada in 1961, where I salvaged a beautiful rug from a pile of discards outside the back of the store. I dyed it maroon and it looked great wall to wall in my tiny house. I was still single at the time working as a musician in the gambling casino showrooms.


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