Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gone but Not Forgotten and I Might Still Be a Tad Bitter About It

This morning while checking in on my Twitter BFF's I found a link to a post by Crash Test Mommy about the childhood toys her momma sold in a garage sale. And posts like that, steeped in nostalgia with a tinge of "MOM? WHY?" always get me *right here*. And what woman in her late thirties doesn't have a few of those toys she wishes were still sitting around rotting in the attic? None I know personally, so it might really just be me and Crash Test Mommy.

Like all moms, my mother had to weed out the toys from time to time. It was - and is - a task better done on days when the kids are at school, otherwise the day is filled with whines and cries, wailing and gnashing of teeth, as the child vehemently pleads for the life of their toy, all the while exclaiming, "But it's my FAAAAAVorite! I'll play with it EVERY DAY! I promise!" Oh yes, it's ages old.

I bear no ill will towards my mother, whatsoever. I'm pretty sure my girls are going to be very upset someday that I boxed up all the Barbies last year and shipped them off to a friend down my Oklahoma City. Oh well. They can disappoint their children in the same way someday.

So without further ado, the toys I miss the most from my childhood are:

1. The Tree Tots - As the box so boasted they were "Your friends from the magic forest".  Heck yeah! Any family that could make a home as 1970's luxurious as that one certainly had to be magic. they had an ELEVATOR, people! That's pretty high-tech for forest friends.

And weren't they just the fanciest dressin' group you ever saw? Dad in his striped shirt and polka dotted tie....Momma in her apron....*cough cough gender sterotypes cough cough* And what do you want to bet the dog's name was Spot?

2. The Tree Tots Amusement Park -- Because you can't stay in the magic forest forever. You have to come out occasionally and go partake of fried cheese on a stick, ostrich burgers and other carnival food. Now, one might think I'm still a little hung up over the Tree Tots and one might actually be correct, but I just don't think you're grasping the awesomeness of this playset. For one thing, what kid hasn't envisioned themselves living in a tree - especially a tree that's whole top lifts up and exposes your house to the world! I mean, it was probably our introduction to the voyueristic society we live in today. The Tree Tots might possibly have been the gateway toy to reality TV. Just sayin'.

Sis and I LOVED this amusement park because you could reconfigure the thing in as many ways as you could possibly imagine. The possibilites were limitless! One crank ran the whole thing and there was a charmingly annoying bell that dinged while you cranked. I remember the airplane swings being my favorite part because I'd turn that crank as fast as I could and make those planes stand straight out, hopefully giving those tree-dwellers the time of their plastic lives. It was my first lesson in centrifugal force.

3. The Disney Romper Room Mickey Mouse Club FOR WEEBLES!!!!! -- It had lights! and a camera! so you could shout "ACTION!" and pretend that you had creative control over Mickey and the gang while they romped about all Romper-Room-ish. And the bleachers! Just like the real Club members sat on! The club house came with a mat and because of my early compulsive tendencies the house had to sit exactly in the spot it was supposed to. Sis could play with the mat on her stinkin' head or in the next room, but man, for me the house had to be in the right spot for the universe to not be thrown off-kilter. And I really liked the flag pole seat thing - you put a Weeble in, let go and it would shimmy down. Pluto went down it best.

4. A Metal Dollhouse - Now, I have talked to both Mom and Sis this morning and none of us can remember exactly whose dollhouse that was. We all seem to remember it coming at Christmas and it made it's appearance at Nan's house, but who was the recipient we have no idea. Sis and I both remember playing with it and fighting over it, but then, we did that with everything - including air. Regardless, the thing was magical. No, not like Tree Tots magical, but more like metal dollhouse magical. The furniture was very "fancy", four-poster beds, armoirs, claw-foot tubs....it all seemed so regal. However, the folks who lived in the ol' metal dollhouse pretty much looked like hobos. I think someone shaved a mouse and then Elmer's glued the fur to their plastic heads. The dad's hair looked like the guy's in Dumb and Dumber. (Jeff Daniels, not Jim Carey) Their clothes looked like someone had wrapped scraps of material around various body parts and hot glued it together. I don't think their clothes were actually constructed as like a dress or a suit. They were white trash rednecks living in a victorian house. Don't you know the neighbors were livid? I'm sure the Tree Tots loved them because they were all hippie and stuff, but I'm pretty sure the Weebles and Barbies thought they were better than them.

5. Baby Alive -- How could you not love a doll that poos and pees? Well, I mean when you're six. When you're 37 it just isn't quite the same, but man, when you're six a pooin' and peein' dolly is just the ultimate in mommy-ness. I loved her so much. I loved feeding her, burping her, rocking her, changing her......and then she broke. I don't know if her gears stripped, her bolts broke or maybe I just fed her too dang much, but for whatever reason Baby Alive quit eating. And if she quit eating she would soon be Baby Not-So-Much Alive Anymore. I was devastated. Then one Saturday morning I found my father in the office/utility room sitting at the big desk at the end of the room (the desk where his CB radio sat) (I had a handle - did you?) with the light shining over something he was working intently on. He turned around and held Baby Alive out to me and joy flooded my little six-year-old heart! She wouldn't become Baby Not-So-Much Alive Anymore after all! Granted, she now had a big black button on top of her head - a big black button like you would push if you were in a game show shouting "NO WHAMMIES!". Yes. Seriously. From then on you would plug a spoonful of "peas" in her mouth, then push the button on her head to make her eat. She still pooped like a pro, though, without any mechanical aid whatsoever.

I'm pretty sure that one didn't make it to a garage sale. No one could've loved a doll with a big black button her head as much as I did.

Let me take a moment here to praise my mother, though. Mom did save my Barbies, My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcakes. I'm sure she did that because those were the toys Sis and I played with most and she knew held the most memories. HOWEVER, I don't think any of us knew that some day in the far off future those Barbies, colored plastic ponies and fruit-scented dolls would be essentially rendered useless and downright gross because eventually the plastic in those things breaks down or something (probably leaking out carcinogenic slime and toxic residue because we all know the 70's and 80's should've killed every single one of us). My Barbies all have hair that is no longer luxuriously blonde tresses, but instead is one big melty-looking tress. As in singular. It's like someone held Barbie's head over the stovetop and well, melted her hair. The My Little Ponies also have the melty hair and their bodies are slimy. Like someone dipped each one in a vat of vegetable oil. All of my Strawberry Shortcakes appear to be going through chemotherapy - they're all going bald. When Kady gets the box out to play with them occasionally I find her standing over the trashcan shaking gobs of plastic doll hair into it.

Ahh....Memory Lane.....littered with broken plastic doll limbs, egg-shaped characters who wobble, ponies with tattoos on their flanks and hippies who live in a tree. 



Debbie said...

Oh wow! An amusement park?? "The Treehouse People" (that's what My Mom called 'em) had an amusement park and I didn't know? My folks were holdin' out on me... I really loved the tree with the elevator, and it may still be in Mom's house somewhere -- seems like I remember my brother's kids playing with it. The metal dollhouse was one of my favorites too, mine came from "The Green Stamp Store," and I loved to move the furniture around all the time!

Dawn said...

Out of all of those I only had the Baby Alive.

You all were rich. We were poor. LOL!

Love this post!

Jenny, Crash Test Mommy said...

Love your post. I totally forgot about Baby Alive! How I miss her so.

It was also nice of you to commend your mother for the things she did save. I would write a new post and do the same, but it would just be an empty page.

But I'm not bitter.

Melessa Gregg said...

I loved my Tree Tot House. Except for the Tree Tot Dad always got stuck in the house and had to be extracted by my Dad. I never knew they had an amusement park, though. Thanks to my cousin Leslie's Baby Alive doll messing up my Dad's outfit one New Year's Eve, I was never allowed to have one.

cedric said...

I would have stomped a baby before giving up my Star Wars action figures, But alas, my mom decided I needed to be rid of some of the toys and "gave" them to my brother who promptly destroyed them. On the plus side, that Mickey Mouse house is languishing in my shed as we speak. It's yours for one fuzzy boob photo. Just trying to help.

Casey said...

Funny, I was just musing whether or not I should Craigslist the play kitchen we gave our daughter a couple of Christmases ago, and I thought of how my mother callously yard-saled my toys and kept the money. That said, I still haven't decided if I am equally hard-hearted.

Cazzie!!! said...

OMG, I always wanted one of those Tree Totts toys, the tree... ohhhh we have to be the same age right? So... well, I had a real life pony, so I am guessing I wanted too much if I wanted a TRee Tott toy then, lol

Shelley Parker Chandler said...

I would like to point out that Cedric did not specify whose or what's boobs had to be included in that fuzzy photo...

MrsCoach said...

My mother sold my strawberry shortcake doll for what to this day I am convinced were drugs. Might have been to keep the bill collectors away but I'm fairly sure my SSC doll went to the way of the drug lords. Not that I am bitter or anything......

Tracie said...

How fun! I spent HOURS playing with my Tree Tot Family!! Still have the tree, but I think the family jumped ship! I also have my weeble wobble house. Weebles & Tots were interchangeable in my play land. That amusement park would have been a blast!! I didn't have the rest of those toys, but I had another little family called the Sunshine Family, not quite as bit as barbie but almost. Wish I had those back!

Redneck Diva said...

Debbie, the Green Stamp store! I had forgotten about that! How I could have, though, is beyond me - I sometimes have flashbacks to the taste of those stamps!

Dawn, well, I don't know about rich, but man, we had a lot of toys!

Jenny, my youngest daughter got a Baby Alive a few years ago and so far we haven't had to put a big black button on her head. These new-fangled toys must be better quality or something. As far as bitterness goes...we won't talk about my pageant dresses with the jingle bells sewn into the hem that my mother DID NOT SAVE.

Melessa, you can come over and play with Kady's Baby Alive! Wait...you have a real baby right now....probably just wouldn't be as much playing with the doll now...

Cedric, who told you my boobs were fuzzy?

Casey, I have saved very few of my kids' toys simply because they don't age well as I mentioned. I don't think of it as hard-hearted when I cash in on those toys - I think of it as a meager return on my GIGANTIC investment. I have saved the girls' dollhouse and my son's Hot Wheels and Rescue Heros. And they will all stay at my house for my grandkids. Because I'm selfish like that. :-)

Cazzie!!, A REAL LIVE PONY?!?!? You had to have been the coolest kid on the block!!!

Shelley, I do like the way you think!

Mrs. Coach, you can come over and play with my anemic ones any time. Raspberry Tart is missing a leg, though...

Tracie, I still have my Sunshine Family!! They are in the attic and I am TOTALLY getting them down! When we moved a friend was helping me label boxes. She took one look inside at those dolls who looked like they did more than wear their hemp, if you know what I mean, and wrote on the box "HIPPIE DOLLS".

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...