Friday, January 9, 2009

Another Tale Of The Brown Recluse... My Mother

When I was in fifth grade of elementary school we had been living here for almost three years, just two houses down from my two best friends. Life was as good as it could possibly get when seen through my 12-year-old eyes. Summers were filled with swimming at the Elks Club, going to YMCA Day Camp, and giggling as we let *Fizzies* dissolve in our mouths. We'd have lemonade stands, ride our bikes with reckless abandon throughout the neighborhood, playing *Kick-The-Can*, swinging until dark at the park across the street from our houses and partaking in the famous *Water Balloon Wars* we used have against all the boys in the neighborhood.

The year was 1963 and the top musical hits of that year were:
Surfin' U.S.A. and Surfer Girl by the Beach Boys
Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton
It's My Party by Leslie Gore
Rhythm Of The Rain by The Cascades
Puff The Magic Dragon and Blowing In The Wind by Peter, Paul & Mary
Wipeout by the Surfaris
Pipeline by the Chantays
Up On The Roof by The Drifters
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp) by Allan Sherman
He's So Fine by The Chiffons.

Those were truly the best few years of my childhood. I loved the school I went to and I adored my teacher. For the first time in my life, I was making passing grades because we seemed to have finally settled down somewhere. Being young, I had no idea what was coming. I was sure that we'd finally found someplace we could be happy as a family, but The Brown Recluse had other plans and schemes in mind. She was always scheming and my brother and I were seldom on her mind when it came to her big plans.

In January of my fifth grade year at school, The Brown Recluse awakened my brother and me in the middle of the night, telling us both to hurry and get dressed. She instructed us to pack up all of our clothes and a few favorite toys. I remember being confused and sleepy and not wanting to pack anything. I had school in the morning. However, TBR was frantic and I was old enough to recognize when she was in a total panic and smart enough to keep my mouth shut. I did as I was told with great reluctance. There was never any arguing with The World's Greatest Guilt Maker and Drama Queen.
It was only a few weeks past Christmas and my ever elusive father (probably bought by Mimi, my Grandmother) sent me a Madame Alexander doll for Christmas. Mother wouldn't let me play it with so I would spend lots of time just looking at her... in her lovely outfit... in her lovely box. It was an Ana McGuffey doll and I adored her. So, it was only natural that I chose her as one of my toys to take along.

The Brown Recluse told me a flat out "No!" and said that it would be going into storage with our other belongings. She assured me that we would have them sent when we arrived, wherever we were going. I was devastated. I did not want to leave her behind because I knew I was going to lose her like so many other things over the years.

I knew it was happening again. We were running away from something, in the middle of the night. Again. I should explain here that TBR was always running away from failed love affairs as well as bills. I can't remember ever leaving a forwarding address whenever we escaped in the middle of the night and I was never allowed to write my former friends. That says a lot in itself. I was beginning to see a pattern in her crazy behavior, even though I was still unaware of what it really meant. I did know that it meant another new school and having to make new friends. Again. I was beginning to really hate having to go to a new school and it was getting harder and harder to make new friends. I never saw Ana or any of my other toys again.

Fast-forward to the year 2004. I was driving home from a doctor's appointment one day and noticed an estate sale that looked interesting, so I went around the block to get back to it, and parked. The deceased woman who had owned the house had been a local seamstress for like 40 years. She never had any children but she collected dolls. I felt as if I was Alice In Wonderland falling into a dream. I spent somewhere around two hours there and wound up buying 8 Madame Alexander dolls, that were all in mint condition. Ana McGuffey was among them. Then I began to worry about how I would explain this to Mr. Snoots, because I had spent $400.00.

When I told him what I'd done, I assured him I could get every penny back (and then some), but there was a catch. I told him I just wanted to keep them for a little while. I wanted to just enjoy them for a while before I sold them. I relayed the Ana story to him and he agreed to let me keep them for a while as long as I eventually sold them, profit or no profit.

Since then, I have sold four of the dolls in my online shop (for a modest, fair profit), but I'm rather reluctant to sell the last four and I just cannot understand why. Admittedly, I will NEVER sell Ana McGuffey. She is so perfect and lovely. Something leftover from childhood, within my psyche just won't allow me to part with her. I'm having a great deal of trouble parting with Alice In Wonderland as well. Hopefully, I can make enough profit on Snow White and Scarlett O'Hara to somewhat make up the difference. Well, if I hold onto them long enough. Maybe. Or not.

Yes, this would be considered another addiction collection. So sue me.


noble pig said...

I love this story even though it made me feel so completely sad. What was wrong with this woman. I can't even imagine doing that to my kids. I mean I have total guilt taking them away from school for a few days let alone running away in the middle of the night. I've said it before, this is why you are such a special person and who you are today. You took adversity and really turned it around. I'm honored to know you...invisably.

BJ Roan said...

What a wonderful find. Sometimes we flourish in spite of our parents, you have. Touching story. Beautiful dolls.

Heather said...

Wow, I can't even imagine being raised that way, or inflicting that upon my children. Look at what a wonderful family you have now. That speaks volume of your strength and character despite TBR asinine adventures.

I gasped out lout (GOL) when I saw the Alice doll. I had two growing up. One Cinderella (poor version) and the other was Alice. I played with both and they are far from mint condition, but they were loved. I think I even cut Cinderella's hair a bit. But my daughter has both proudly displayed in her room. She loves them simply because they were mine. The Alice has always been my favorite--maybe that's why she kept her original locks. You have to keep her!

Mental P Mama said...

I think you have the makings of a novel-turned-screenplay. Get to work!

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

You are such an amazing person despite TBR.
I have always loved Madame Alexander dolls. I also have a MA baby doll that I received for Christmas when I was about 9yr old. The Diva and Peepers have both also enjoyed him.

BTW- I loved Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter From Camp) growing up. Cookie and I were listening to and singing it just a short while back:)

brneyedgal967 said...

I can't imagine how heartbreaking that would be to have to steal away in the middle of the night like that - over and over. And to know you were leaving all of your treasured belongings, your secure neighborhood, your friends... essentially your childhood. No wonder you're a mess. Bwahahaha. I jest. I'm only saying that because you kept me up blabbing until 3am and I've only had 3 1/2 hours of sleep. My stomach hurts from laughing and mascara is still all over my face from crying.

Going back to bed. Now.

The Incredible Woody said...

What a strong woman you are - to overcome a childhood to become the obviously loving mother that you are! I can understand not wanting to get rid of the dolls. I lost a lot of things in childhood too and as a result there are some materials possessions that I have that I just cannot let go. I can't explain but I totally understand.

My Metabolic Rate is Stuck said... WHERE is your ONLINE SHOP???
I seriously cannot imagine what you had to go through! But I feel for you deeply! NO CHILD should have to feel and grow the way you did...yet you have overcome and are a FANTASTIC person!
I am PROUD of the person
(Wife, Mother, Friend) you are now, even if it's just knowing you thru Blogging !
Now where is that shop again...I'm pretty much of a Shopaholic.

Naz said...

I discovered your blog via Queen Hotflash. We are the same age and reading the list from the summer of 63 brought me down memory lane. I will always remember Fizzies, hoola hoops and playing jacks. It was such a simplier time of life for me, but I can see it was difficult for you. I do hope you will keep a couple of the Madam Alexander dolls for yourself.


Buddha's Place said...

What pretty pretty dolls. I wish I could have had dolls to play with. The only thing my crazy mom would let us play with were "empty" beer bottles or sticks. We used to sneak out at night too. One time she was pissed at the landlord for unknown reasons and stuck one of those huge dill pickles as far as she could down the toilet ;( Crazy bitches!

Do you suppose Anon is reading today? You must entertain the shit out of him/her/it.

TSannie said...

You're a wonderful story-teller - even when the words don't convey totally happy things and events.

Flea said...

You have to keep Alice, you know. She belongs with you. Just to make up for one other beauty you left along the wake of TBR's trail of destruction.

herMomsometimes said...

Beautiful dolls, I always loved Madame Alexander dolls. They are almost to pretty to play with. Keep the ones you want to keep. After all these years you deserve all the toys you want.

Rickrack and Pompoms said...

You should keep that doll forever. That must have been a frightening way to grow up and it really impacted you with such a strong memory. I think you can justify that collection!

Blarney said...

Wow ... here I was stopping by to thank you for your kind words and I stumble on your inner self. Thank you for sharing it with me/us. These dolls are as beautiful as you and should be kept as a happy memory as long as you want them. I have a doll collection in the basement ... hmmm ... where is it ...

Living on the Spit said...

I loved this post and connected to it for a lot of the same reason and experiences that you had.

You and I must be sisters because it sounds like we have the SAME mother.

I hope you get to keep your wonderful dolls...they are really special.

I had all The Little Women Madame Alexander dolls wich my older sister cut off their hair because she was jealous...evil sister takes after evil mother.

I also had a Victoria, the Madame Alexander Baby doll which said sister colored with a black permanent marker.

I will have my babies back one day before I die...I have always promised myself.



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