Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Last Trip to Childhood

As i mentioned earlier, my father is moving to Virginia. In fact, he's moving the second week in May. Part of getting ready for the move from a family house to a 2-bedroom apartment is having to get rid of a lot of stuff. My parents always teased that they were going to rent my room out to boarders but in fact it stayed pretty much the same as when i was living at home, so each time i came back to visit, it was like stepping back into my childhood. Now that room has to dissolve so that my father can move.

I first started getting rid of stuff at my house to make room for stuff i knew that i would be bringing back. With a great deal of angst, i threw away 4 wonderful 1/8 scale car models i had assembled as a teenager, including a 1965 Corvette and a 1965 Jaguar XKE. They had functioning steering, windows that rolled up and down, hoods that opened to reveal gleaming engines with tiny plastic tubing as spark plug wires, and so on. The years haven't been kind to the cars as they got shuttled from here to there, especially after i brought them to Virginia and dust settled on them and cats occasionally walked across them. But it still felt like i was throwing part of my childhood away.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Even though my room was quite neat, it still was full of papers (think high school term papers, old scrapbooks with yellowing newspaper articles about archaeology and the space program), books, several boxes of letters, and a few toys. I thought i could cull through the letters, keeping some and tossing others. The best i was able to do was toss old birthday cards and Christmas cards (after convincing myself that no, i probably really would never get around to repurposing them in a collage, even though that seemed like a great idea). Oh, and i was able to toss some letters from friends from 2nd grade who i got in touch with again in junior high and then fell out of touch with.
But letters from my mother, my sister, my French pen pal, my Polish pen pal...each of these had so many gems in them that i couldn't throw them away, and i finally realized that i would just keep them all and re-read them at my leisure at some distant future date.
I did get rid of a few toys. Here's an autograph dog that i think i got for my 12th birthday. Pretty much all of the signatures are faded, so out he went, after posing for one last picture.
I did keep my 3 autograph books from 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Fun to read friends and teachers telling me they expected great things from me in the future...i'm not sure if i've quite lived up to their or my expectations. I might be able to read these one more time and toss 'em.
Here's a good pal from childhood that i was going to keep for purely sentimental reasons (and maybe it would be worth something on eBay someday) first camera! -- a Kodak Brownie camera that my parents gave me for my 8th birthday and which i used consistently until my father bought me a great Minolta SLR as a college graduation present 14 years later. Unfortunately, something in it self-destructed and the camera is all corroded and the leather case crumbled to smithereens. I thought some of you young-uns out there might be interested to see what a camera, a flash gun, flashbulbs, and a box of film looked like back in the paleolithic!

Some things that i did bring back include my original teddy bear, Butterscotch. You might remember that i posted about my second teddy bear, Freeto Cheeps, who sort of was supposed to take Butterscotch's place. I guess Butterscotch fairly early on lost an eye and later got his nose squashed (by me...having a tantrum...) but i still love him and had to bring him back with me.

I also brought back my father's favorite toy from his childhood, a pull-toy horse. This little guy has mohair "fur" and is in surprisingly good condition considering he's probably 75 years old. He used to have a leather bridle, reins, and saddle but those dry rotted years ago. (Back then, i offered to make new ones, but my father wouldn't hear of it. Now at least he's grudgingly let me hold onto the horse.)

I also had to keep my favorite toy from childhood. (The white fur kitty named Katrinka is long gone. So i guess this was my second favorite toy.) A cargo ship, complete with opening hatches and operating crane!


  1. Oh, what a huge mountain of memories! The things you brought home are wonderful!
    I didn't go to kindergarten but grew up with my grandma and when she died and my father told me to pick some things it was so very hard. Maybe the funniest thing is an item I didn't even know she had. It seems to be a linen flour sack the allies gave to support the Germans after WW2. My grandma was from Berlin. The writing on the sack is all faded now, but you can distingish a litte bit of it. It now covers the piece of fur for Siena to sit on on my writing desk (Chilli rips pieces out of the fur when I leave it uncovered) and reminds me of her constantly.
    Thinking of you... : )

  2. This all sounds so poignant! My siblings and I went through my childhood home about 5 years ago when my parents moved to a retirement community. Sounds like you brought enough things home with you to inspire memories for a long time.

  3. These are wonderful memories and tough decissions. When my folks moved from teh house I grew up in to a new house on teh faem, we went through this same process. I did not have the stamina to throw any thing away. I have all teh baby dolls that I ever received. Some of them are 56 years old. My kids will have a real delimia on their hands some day!

  4. What wonderful toys and memories. The horse is in pretty good shape for his age!!

  5. Such lovely toys and we're sure they all brought back many memories. Our person is in the midst of decluttering our home and it's proving to be quite the task.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Ms. P and Cinza

  6. That's a lot of mementoes! My human took all the stuff she wanted from her old room years ago but there is still some stuff there that she couldn't bring herself to get rid of and nor could Cornish Grandma.

  7. Looks like you were reunited with "old friends" from childhood, and were able to bring some of these wonderful treasures home!

  8. Old toys are the best I think.

  9. Hi, it's us again. Yes, those are peony shots in the background of Chilli's pic! It is a very old amazingly big plant that was there already when mom moved in. Of course it was - it must be well over 10 years the house keeper says! He gave mom a piece of it when they had to dig all the plants out due to big works on the house three years ago. Last year her piece in a pot bloomed nicely with two huge flower heads. You can see a pic of them here if you scroll down to the very end of the post.
    Purrs, your young Gardening Cats

  10. Such fun photos of well loved toys, Quiltcat. And I remember making model kits, tho mine were of squirrels, robins and blue jays. Your cars sound very elaborate and wonderful in a Stewart Little kind of way.

    And thank you for your many and kind comments on my postings. You are such a generous soul!


  11. what a lot of memories there for you sort through. Thank you for finding Karmen and me I'm now following you. Take care, Judith

  12. Oh Gosh! These toys are wonderful! You shouldn't have thrown away any of them. Everything old's got value. I hardly have anything left from my childhood, as both my parents are gone and everything got cleaned out after I moved away, anyhow.
    Taking care of your father is a difficult, but special thing. I wish you much courage and love. I wish I still had mine to care for.

  13. Thank you all for your kind comments. Thank goodness nobody said "oh it's all just old stuff, get rid of it!" Katie Jane, i did keep the teddy, horse, and boat. And i already brought my Ginny doll back to Virginia with me several years ago to make sure she wasn't given away. Luckily my father is moving of his own free will and is still able to take care of himself very well. But i'll be nearby when he does need me.

  14. I hope you took a pic of your childhood bedroom before it was dismantled. Although I'm betting you can recll it accurately in your mind's eye. This was a lovly post - and thank you for sharing all those wonderful childhood toys and memories.
    Perhaps some of the things you don't want can be recycled then you wont feel you're throwing your childhood away - rather putting things to a new good use.

    (Written by Milo and Alfie's Mom)
    Milo and Alfie send their purrs.