After coming through the gate, I got a thorough sniffing from Mooch, who followed at my heels to the door that led from the garage to the kitchen.
By rule, I called Mom at her office. If I was breathing hard, it meant I'd ridden my bike. Otherwise, I'd walked or taken the bus.
"Thanks for checking in, honey. Be good," she'd say.
Then I had about two hours to do as I pleased, as long as I didn't have football, basketball or baseball practice.
That could mean homework, or I could go play with friends. Mooch's favorite game was to grab the ring of a dirty, red Hippity Hop and run. My job was to get it away from him and kick it around the yard. Good times.
There also were days when I didn't feel like doing any of those things, so I plopped myself in front of the television for 30-minute blocks of old shows and new commercials.
You probably know the ones I'm talking about: "Gilligan's Island," "The Brady Bunch," "The Munsters" and "Looney Tunes," among others.
A question naturally emerges: What good did those shows do for me, considering more productive ways to spend my time were available?
The reruns were pure entertainment fluff, and hours passed without any effort on my part.
The time could've been spent learning an instrument, painting mini-masterpieces or training for a marathon. I also could've broken into neighborhood homes and stolen all their stereo components.
But often I sat, eating Vienna sausages and drinking generic cola, while watching the Skipper smack Gilligan on the head with his hat.
I must've gotten something out of it, other than occasionally calling my son "Little Buddy," the way the Skipper referred to Gilligan.
Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch," died on Tuesday. The Associated Press put out a 31-inch obituary. Not too shabby.
Long before the Internet, Schwartz gave us a pop culture web that connected people to each other.
A good friend of mine moved from Huntsville, Ala., to Cypress, Calif., when the Army transferred his dad.
I went out for a visit, and found myself riding in the back of a pickup truck in Los Angeles and singing the theme from "Gilligan's Island" with a bunch of California teenagers.
During that impromptu performance, a kid from Alabama, surrounded by strangers in a giant city, was right where he belonged.
Schwartz's shows weren't the best of pastimes, but they provided a social glue that will keep sticking until the last member of Generation X is dead and buried.
That's a far-reaching legacy, Little Buddy.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or email@example.com.