I believe toys are a crucial piece of childhood. Practice for “real life” and a way to learn and figure out who you are. Toys are serious business!
Once there was a 4 year old girl who thoroughly enjoyed taking care of her toy buddies – Bears, Monkeys, Little dolls, Big dolls, Bunnies, Doggies. She and her daddy even made chairs for them – painted red with leftover house paint.
Her own child sized chairs, covered with a blanket, provided space for her larger buddies. At mealtime, it was crucial to get everyone ready and in position…for whatever feast she had prepared in a tiny tin roaster pan. Part of a cooking set handed down from her mom. Plastic food and all.
This photo captures one of those times.
This little girl grew up to be a passionate educator…and an excellent cook, baker and party planner. And a mom. Just to name a few of the many destinations her toys led her to.
My southern grandmother – who was born and raised in Tennessee – had a boy’s name first and a girl’s name second. But everyone called her Eva. Apparently this was customary at the time (1892) in USA southern states. She had a sister named Jimmy Ruth. Her brother’s name was Creed.
Johnny Eva was Grammy to me – my paternal grandmother. As a child, I was somewhat mystified by her. She had very long dark wavy hair – almost down to her waist. I’d sit and watch her comb it out, coil it up and then secure it with combs or clips. I never knew another older person with such long hair. Not one for makeup and frills, she wore sensible dresses and sensible shoes. We had that in common.
I only saw her sporadically when I was growing up because she lived in Ohio and we lived on the east coast. After my grandfather Papa died unexpectedly in 1964, Grammy would come and live with us for a month or 2 several times a year. She didn’t always have alot to say, but she’d look over your shoulder to see what you were doing and comment. (As I recall, this did not go over well with my mother!) An excellent seamstress, she repaired anything that needed mending…and sewed dress-up dresses for my sister and me. And fancy clothes for our baby dolls and Barbies.
She loved to watch The Lawrence Welk Show on TV and rarely missed it. Frugal to a fault sometimes, she would insist on buying day-old produce and bread when she went grocery shopping with my mother – even if the quality was poor. She was always generous with her family though; slipping me a few dollars when she thought I needed it. I never took advantage of this; but it was comforting to know that she “had my back” – and her help was always offered without judgement…an unspoken underlying connection between us.
I often wonder now if she had some undiscovered underlying medical issues. She would often disappear into her bedroom to “rest a spell” during the day. I also suspect she may have suffered a level of chronic depression that only worsened after Papa died. I often sensed a real melancholy about her.
When I told her I was pregnant with my son – our second child – her reaction was…”why? why bring another child into this terrible world?” Needless to say, that’s not the kind of congratulations I was expecting; but I was not altogether surprised and I wasn’t upset with her. Unfortunately she passed away the week after he was born, at the age of 95.
I had forgotten how much she kept in touch with me.
In my treasure trove of letters I have found dozens from her. I don’t think she went to school after the 8th grade, but her letters were full of detail & vivid descriptions. And, most importantly to my childhood self, full of genuine interest in and love for me.
She wrote the following letter 2 years after Papa died, when I was 12. It was near Thanksgiving. She was staying in her childhood home, where her sister was still living in Tennessee. Apparently with no heat.
It was expensive to make long distance phone calls when I was a child, so letter writing was the only way to stay in touch. And I am so grateful she did.
Growing up – and into her adulthood years – she loved to go fishing.
In 2006 we visited and toured the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. My husband entered a state of nirvana trying out all the sample guitars. I enjoyed photographing the various stages of guitar making. One of my favorites…rows of body parts!
*(trivia question: this location – Nazareth, PA – was an inspiration for the first line of…what song?…which was also played on a Martin guitar)
I am a baby boomer; growing up in the USA suburbs. Houses lined up one after the other in my neighborhood; no farms or horses. I never dreamed of having a horse. None of my friends had horses.
The only animals I was familiar with were dogs and cats. Family pets. Horses existed on television shows like Mr. Ed, Bonanza and Lassie. Mr. Ed was my personal favorite! I went on pony rides at county fairs, although they made me uncomfortable. I was sad to see ponies trudging endlessly in a circle. They looked trapped.
My first memory of anything horse-like was a red wooden rocking horse. A gift for my 2nd birthday. I apparently rode it with great abandon, springs squeaking in a steady rhythm. The springs were my favorite part – more bouncing up and down. I was a very active kid so it doesn’t surprise me. I will admit that some of this memory is from an old 8mm (silent) home movie – close to 3 minutes of me energetically riding my first “horse.” Somehow I do remember the squeaking. Perhaps from my younger siblings years later.
I went horseback riding once – at Girl Scout camp. It was a big deal because it cost extra. The horse took off galloping and I didn’t know what to do. Painful.
So…I am one of those exceptions to the theory that all girls dreamed of horses.
I actually dreamed of flying! For years it was how I fell asleep at night as a young child – starting up the dream as I closed my eyes. Run, jump and up I went. But that’s another story.