When I was growing up in Brooklyn, NY, most of the Mom-and-Pop stores had a special when you bought Tootsie Pops, the lollipops (or suckers) with the Tootsie Roll stuff inside them.

Along the wrapper are little pictures of kids doing things like racing soap-box derby cars, playing marbles, tennis and volleyball, even horseback riding. If you were very lucky, you had a picture of a little Indian child with a bow and arrow, shooting at a star. If you had the complete image, you won another Tootsie Pop.

The worst thing to get would be everything except for his foot, or the star missing because the image was too close to the edges of the wrapper. Major letdown when you're only 7 years old!

I dipped into the little ones stash of Halloween candy today. I felt justified in doing so, considering that we still have a plastic pumpkin filled with candy from last year. My choice of sweetness this time was a Tootsie Pop, cherry flavored.

As I unwrapped the bright red paper, with its sharp white decorations, I had a sudden flashback to when I was around 7. It was after the baseball game, and my team mates and I were tearing into some Tootsie Pops. This is when it was revealed to me for the first time. The fabulous amount of prizes you could win if you collected enough wrappers that had the Indian shooting at the star. Now, I can't remember exactly what those fantastic prizes were. All I remember is they were incredible. Things that little boys lusted over with the intensity of the white hot sun.

I also don't remember how many of those sticky little wrappers you needed to win said booty. I do, however, remember carefully inspecting every wrapper as soon as it was free of the candy. I even remember squinting intently at Tootsie pops, trying to determine if the crinkled wrapper might contain the portrait of Chief Shooting Star in its entirety.

The greatest of joy was reached whenever I did find the illusive native. With a crow of triumph I'd quickly stuff the wrapper into a pocket, with a promise to myself that I'd put it somewhere safe and get that collection going. Of course...I was seven, and hardly the master of my universe that I am today. My mother, on the other hand, was fiendish, devious, and determined. Every time she would wash the pants that I had eagerly stuffed with a Tootsie wrapper, she would seek it out, and promptly destroy the wrinkled treasure. Her lint ridden laundry room waste basket was her favorite weapon of choice in the battle. Then again, perhaps she just wondered why I had all those damn wrappers in my pockets.

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