My Tomball family—Colin, Lisa, Morgan, and Kegan—brought me an early and surprise birthday gift: two of my treasured childhood toys, refurbished. They are Bobbie, my baby doll that I played with in the ‘40s until probably an older age than many girls played with dolls, and an unnamed raggedy dog that I loved. Perhaps he once had a name, but I don’t remember it.
Bobbie was a mess—head cracked in two body filthy and limp, clothes gone. My children and grandchildren declared the doll gave them the willies and more than once urged me to throw her out. I refused. The dog had lost all his stuffing and sat forlornly on a small chest of drawers in my bedroom, dripping sawdust every time you even looked at him. He’d lost so much that he looked as flat as a pancake.
|Soccer star grandson Kegan|
I had made overtures to one or two doll hospitals, but how do you know the quality of their work? Two were too busy for years to come, though one woman suggested I call her in three months. Colin and Lisa found a woman in Spring, Texas who took them right away and kept them so long I began to badger Colin to be sure they weren’t lost forever. (Even as I did that, worried about my toys, it occurred to me the kids might be planning to surprise me.)
When they came this weekend for the graduation festivities in Frisco, they brought them. Breathtaking. They tell me the doll repair expert said Bobbie was a good quality doll, made in the 1920s which means someone a generation older than me had her. I wish I knew the trail of ownership. She has eyes that open and close and a mechanism embedded in her chest that says “Mama.” Both were broken, of course, but have now been restored. The name of the maker is embossed at the base of her skull.
Less was said about the dog, and I don’t remember much about him except that I loved him. Not sure of their permanent homes but for now they are on a bookcase in my living room. Grandson Ford was here over the weekend for a TCU baseball game (while I was in Frisco—so sorry to miss him), and he said Bobbie still gives him the creeps. When Jordan sent him out this morning to give my dog water, he said he was afraid the doll would have moved. In retelling that, Jordan laughed and said she wished she’d thought of it.
A different bit of nostalgia: last night when I was all ready to crawl in bed, both of my sons ended in my bedroom, Jamie softly picking out Joan Baez and Neil Diamond tunes on his guitar. My three oldest children were raised on the music of Baez, Diamond, and Judy Collins for the first five or so years of their lives. We took a lot of cross-country trips to visit family in North Carolina and Colorado, and the folk music played in the car the whole time. Last night, Colin said, “We like the music for what it is but also for what it has meant to us.” That led to a talk that went everywhere—childhood, today’s grandchildren, their work philosophies, I can’t begin to tell you what all it covered.
But I sat there and thought how blessed I was to have these two in my life. Their recollection of childhood made me realize again what a full and interesting life I’ve led. It was one of those moments life hands you that you are meant to treasure forever. So next time you hear “Play Me” or “Diamonds and Rust” think of me, with two men in their forties recalling their childhood to those tunes.