Cherished Playthings

Jessie: In New Hampshire, feeling grateful for hearty soups and robust heating systems.


We’re taking a nostalgic and light-hearted approach to our group post today. Most people had a favorite childhood plaything. A toy, a game, a stuffed animal. So Wickeds, what were the things you would have saved from a burning house when you were a kid? Which toys were the ones you used for hours on end? Do you still have any keepsakes from your childhood?

Liz: I love this! When I was in fourth grade, Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. Anyone who remembers that fad will recall demand, lines and arguments rivaling those at the Apple store on a new iPhone launch day. My mother made many valiant efforts, to no avail. I was starting to see my dreams of my very own Cabbage Patch doll fading before my eyes.

After one particularly depressing day at school when a classmate brought her new doll in for show and tell, I went home and told my mother again how sad I was about the situation. She assured me she was trying, and I should be grateful for the things I have, and could I please go downstairs and get the potatoes from the basement? So I did, with the weight of the world on my shoulders, feeling sorry for myself. And when I reached the potato bin, there was a Cabbage Patch Kid box sitting in it. Her name was Andi Gizela, and I was over the moon. I still have Andi. Currently she’s in a keepsake chest. Whenever I have cause to take her out, I still imagine she smells like the baby powder scent all the dolls had. Still one of the best days of my childhood.

Julie: I love Liz’s story. I had a rock and roll Barbie and walking Ken. My grandmother made Barbie clothes (one AMAZING knit dress I would love to have, but got worn out).I loved my Barbie, and would put her in her case, put the whole thing in the basket on the back of my bike, and haul it across town to Julie D’Antono’s house. Julie had all the Barbie stuff–camper, house, etc. I had none of that, but made beds out of kleenex boxes, and could do amazing things with paper towels. Ken was limited in his mobility, but was the nice guy next door. My youngest sister thought Ken lacked, and got Kung Fu grip G.I. Joe as a partner for her Barbie.

One other very treasured toy was a dollhouse my grandfather made for us, including the furniture. We spent hours playing with it, and I still love looking at it.

Barb: I still have my Barbie doll, and the elegant evening gown my grandmother knit for her on little tiny needles. There was always a shortage of Kens, so I remember life in Barbie-land was a soap opera of constantly changing partners. I also still have my Tiny Tears, and Tiki, a stuffed dog with a huge patch on his back that I took everywhere when I was small. I was told my father gave him to me before he left for Korea.

But the toy I would save, should such an occasion arise, is my daughter’s Cabbage Patch preemie, Derick. Derick has been everywhere–camp, vacations, sleepovers, France, Italy, Australia, college. He’s what my niece who studied developmental psychology calls a personified object, very close apparently to an imaginary friend. I guess what I am saying is, Derick is part of the family, so he’d be the one to be rescued from the flames. And Derick’s head still smells like baby powder, too.

Edith: I love Liz’s story, too, and the image of a Cabbage Patch preemie. I still have my stuffed dog, Topsy, who is nearly as old as I am. The inside of his ear was silky and I’d stroke it EdithDollTopsyfor comfort (probably sucking my thumb, while I was at it). He was originally a Dalmation – well, at least he used to have spots. I did a lot of surgery stitching him up when his stuffing tried to come out. And I still have my Edith doll (yes, I used to have dark hair). She had an unfortunate haircut somewhere along the line, and her wrap-around dress is because I have no idea where her original clothes went.

I have one remaining Barbie doll, for which my grandmother sewed some amazing clothes, a feat which would defeat me as a seamstress – do you even know how freaking tiny those sleeves are?!. But I also have books galore from my childhood. Original Oz books. The Laura books, much read. My mother’s Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. The Little Engine That Could. The Story of Babar. And on and on. And on. What a fun trip down memory lane.

Jessie: I wasn’t really one for Barbies but I absolutely loved the Fisher Price Little People. My sister and I had the suburban house with a doorbell that rang and the hospital with a working elevator. I played with those for hours on end. The house opened to allow access to four rooms: a kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms. There was even an attached garage. I remember being baffled and annoyed by the lack of a bathroom. Its absence plagued me. Then I realized  it had a set of freestanding stairs with a little closet built underneath. I decided to turn that into the bathroom. I consider it to be my first home renovation project!

IMG_2505Sherry: I loved dolls. Any kind of dolls from baby dolls to Barbie dolls. I spent hours with them. I have a couple left. One is a bride doll. My mom spent countless hours sewing clothes for her after we’d gone to bed. I’m not sure if you can tell in the picture but she also had shoes, skates, nylons and a purse. One of my other favorite dolls was my Shirley Temple. Somehow even with all of the moves I still have her, a purse and her IMG_2508rain outfit which included a purse, coat and scarf to protect her hair. I still have one Barbie doll too but it was originally my sister’s. It’s a blonde bubble head that I always thought was so beautiful.

Readers: What toy did you love when you were little? Do you still have it?

15 Thoughts

  1. Books! Even then..I still have my original Land of the Lost – pre-school and The Twenty-One Balloons from grade school.

  2. People, you’re making me feel old! They hadn’t even invented Barbie dolls when I was a kid.

    But! For my very first overnight away from home, at Lisa Webb’s house–I think I was seven–I was feeling a bit scared. Lisa’s very nice mother loaned me Lisa’s sister’s stuffed koala bear to keep me company. I took it home with me, and I still have it. It lives in my closet, and I’ve taken good care of it for (mumble, mumble) years.

    1. Now, wait a minute, Sheila. You’re not THAT much older than me. Sure there were Barbies. But about sleepovers – it took me a couple of years to be able to stay over at my best friend Joanne’s house. I’d be fine, and then at bedtime I’d get all weepy and have to be picked up. Since it was only three blocks away, it wasn’t a problem. Lovely that you got the koala to help fix that.

      1. Nah, my slightly younger sister had them. I was into Madame Alexander dolls, which were kind of the Barbie precursor. They had the same shapely figures and permanent high-heeled feet, and lots of clothes. No Kens, though.

  3. Edith the Lonely Doll and her book. A some point I had her cleaned up and her joints reattached, and put her in a stand so she could be out in the world. I lost her original hoop earrings, but replaced them with snazzy rhinestones.

  4. I don’t have any toys from childhood around here (which considering how nostalgic I am and how much of a hoarder is a little surprising). However, my parents do, and my niece and nephew are playing with them when they go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They also still have lots of the picture books I loved as a kid.

    However, I have a rare board game called Trust Me. I’d played it with a friend and wanted a copy of my own. My mom passed that on to my grandma, and you can’t believe how delighted I was when I got it for Christmas that year. I haven’t played it in years, but it’s sitting in my game closet.

    And I still have books. I’m got a few Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. (Okay, thanks to library sales I have a lot of Nancy.) And I still have all my Trixie Belden books. Plus the LIttle House books and My Robot Buddy and some others I loved as a kid.

    1. Mark, I have all my Little House books and several Trixie Belden’s too! Books seem harder to let go of than anything else. I have almost all the picture books I had as a child and a great number of the novels. I’ve loved sharing them with my own children. Which makes me think of Kim’s latest post about family storytelling.

      1. I kept my kids picture books and just had the delight of watching my son and daughter sift through them, picking out favorites to share with my granddaughter.

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