THE CHALLENGE OF BILLY BOUNCE
When I was real little Mom had a book in which the main character was named Billy Bounce. It was a series of stories with a recurring plot: The hero, heroine, human. dog, cat (or whatever) would get himself (itself) into a serious dilemma and have to have help getting out. He/she/it would scream for Billy Bounce to come and rescue him/her/it. I remember reading the book myself when I was about four years old. I do not know what ever happened to it. We probably wore it out! When Lucy Chase and I had our own children, I found most of the "children's books" extremely silly, so I began making up stories for them to hear at bedtime, and in order to make it more interesting for myself — and to put it on a very personal level, the children themselves were always the central characters in the imaginary tale. To make it even MORE interesting each child was allowed to suggest one ingredient in the story. My challenge was to make up a plot using the things that THEY had suggested and weave them all together into a Billy Bounce story in which, inevitably they had gotten themselves into a situation that was dire, hazardous, and sometimes nearly fatal (great suspense!) until SOMEBODY thought of calling Billy Bounce to save them. Now ALL the things had to figure prominently in he story. For those who do not know, Billy Bounce had an inflatable rubber suit that could be blown up, making him lighter than air, so he could float over houses, trees, mountains, etc., just by leaping in the air. He was also blessed with superhuman hearing abilities, so if anyone called him from any where in the world he could hear the summons and come to the aid of whoever was in trouble. Someimes the "things" did not appear until this modern day deum ex machina was called, and his superhuman brain would figure out how to get them out of the trouble they had gotten themselves into. This was a lot of fun for us all. And no two stories could ever be exactly ALIKE because the ingredients were always at the whim or imagination of the children. Some did fall into a pattern. Robbie frequently wanted a "toilet" and Toni frequently wanted "a duck." The permutations of these two details were a wonderful exercise for me..the duck fell into the toilet and got flushed down, Robbie got his foot stuck, the duck had a broken wing because the toilet seat fell on it or some such improbable catastrophe. Billy Bounce to the rescure. "We'd better call Billy Bounce"
Then the intrepid hero would bounce over the treetops until he came to where they were and resolve their problem. (E.G. "The duck went down, you say? No problem, I'll just scoop out all the water so it will back up...voila! Here is your duck--a litttle damp but all right. Robbie, just take off your shoe...like that. Now pull your foot out of it and I'll hook the shoe out with my handy-dandy shoe hornhook. Broken wing? No problem I just happen to have some DUCK TAPE in my pocket. I'll just wrap it up and your duck will be good as new. There! Anything else?"
There were some times when I had three in my bedtime sessions (I guess Evie outgrew these some time back. How did I have three? (Note from Robin - because I was still at home and still loved the stories, still do to this day! So much so I found the original book and have bought it! Not as personal as Dad's stories, but still great fun.)
Then I began recording stories that THEY told. I have a reel to reel tape in my tape collection in the boat house labelled, "Stories by a three year old."
I remember one that demanded a flat tire, and a pizza. Lotsa fun.
Composed on 4 January, 2009, Transcribed by Robin
p.s. Billy Bounce baked the pizza in tne oven until it was very hard and put it on in place of the wheel that had the flat tire. Simple!© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008