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My Precious Ponies

February 3, 2013

Claire on HighI was awakened at 6:47 this morning by the sound of something breaking.  I had a couple of suspicions (fears) about what it might have been (it turns out I was wrong), but I was pretty sure I knew who the culprit was (Claire, who has decided that no shelf, ledge, or beam is too difficult to scale).

Broken Horses

Finding nothing untoward on the main floor (except Sylvia, hunkered down in the hallway wearing a look that clearly said, “It wasn’t me!”), I headed downstairs (Claire was still nowhere to be seen).  It didn’t take long for me to discover what had happened – the top shelf of the entertainment unit in the family room was askew and my ancient ceramic horse collection was in a pile on the floor, legs and ears and a few other miscellaneous body parts scattered across the rug. I set about picking up the pieces (whereupon both cats came out to investigate) with the intention of gluing them back together later in the day.

Hatbox CollectionNow, these horses are not valuable (by any stretch of the imagination).  My mother had a small collection of Beswick horses (which were fairly valuable; they were left to various nieces and granddaughters), but mine are all ‘Made in Japan’.  They were purchased for probably no more than 50 cents back in the late 1950s and early 1960s (long before toy companies tapped into little girls’ fantasies about horses and came up with toys like Hasbro’s ‘My Little Pony’ and Breyer’s ‘Equestrian Playsets’). My sister and I bought our horses (and other ‘collectibles’ like the Disney Hatbox collection – ceramic figurines based on characters from popular Disney movies of the time [Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, Bambi] that came in little round boxes that resembled ladies’ hatboxes) with our allowance from a local ‘gift store’ down the street from where we lived, and we played with them regularly (every one of mine has at least one or more broken and re-glued legs).  When I ‘outgrew’ them, I placed the horses on a shelf in my bedroom; they’ve been with me through three moves, two marriages, and a half a lifetime.

My precious ponies aren’t the only item from my childhood that I still own.  I still have the aforementioned Hatbox characters, several baby dolls (Tiny Tears, Betsy Wetsy), two 17” teen dolls (a bride doll I named Karen and a ballerina with bendable knees that I got for Christmas in 1960), several of my original Barbies (unfortunately, others mysteriously ‘went missing’ in the mid 1970s), the wooden dollhouse my mother bought at a secondhand store (I refurbished it in the 1990s and filled it with Playmobile furniture and people), and a number of teddy bears and other stuffed animals that I cherished when I was very young. Most of these items are ‘on display’ in various parts of the house; I can’t imagine ever getting rid of any of them (that will be up to my boys to do, after I’m gone).

Tiny Tears

Tiny Tears

Christmas 1960

Christmas 1960

Original Barbies

Original Barbies

What is it that makes some people (like me) such sentimental saps about stuff like this?  I have no problem donating or tossing out old books and clothes, furniture and ‘household items’ that no longer serve any useful purpose, but I simply cannot part with the remnants of my childhood – it would break my heart.

Me and Teddy 1956

Me and Teddy 1956

Teddy, Doc et al

Teddy (right), Doc, Cuddles and other ‘old friends’ (2013)

Mom's Eaton Beauty and Dad's Teddy

Mom’s Eaton Beauty w/Dad’s Teddy

I wouldn’t have said that my mother was particularly sentimental this way, although she did keep the Eaton Beauty doll she got the year she was 10 or 11 (she had actually wanted a baby doll and didn’t really LIKE the Eaton Beauty; she had it restored in 1970 when she read how valuable they’d become), and we found a box of love letters (from my father, mostly written during the summer of 1936) in her cedar chest after she died. Surprisingly, my father (who was not sentimental about objects at all) had kept his childhood teddy bear (from 1915; it currently ‘lives’ with my mother’s doll at my brother’s house).  I would have to say that my older sister and both my brothers are somewhat sentimental (about some things, anyway); however, my oldest sister was always proud of the fact that there was never any ‘clutter’ in her house (she’d get rid of her kids’ clothes and toys before they’d even outgrown them, and she liked nothing better than purging every time she moved house); I always sort of felt sorry for her (not to mention her kids, who have no tangible ‘memories’ of their childhood now that they’re grown men).

I suppose some part of me hangs on to these things because they represent a material ‘connection’ to my childhood.  I can pick up Teddy or Doc, Barbie or Ken or Midge or Skipper, or rearrange the furniture in my dollhouse and remember what it was like to be 7 or 8 or 10 again, lost in imaginative play with ‘friends’ who didn’t  judge or criticize, or want to play ‘their way’.  For one magical moment, awash with fond memories of the past, I forget that I’m on … the other side of 55.

Dollhouse (2013)

My Dollhouse c/w with furniture, people, and a red motorcycle (with my and me husband, too!)

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