Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for My Favorite Playthings

I'm doing the A-to-Z Blog Challenge.

Today is for T, and T is for TOYS.

Not just any toys. I'm talking about my favorite toys from childhood.

In a previous post, I mentioned I'm the youngest by 6-1/2 years in a family of four girls. And I'm here today to testify to the fact that four girls growing up in the 70s/80s -- no matter what the age difference -- equaled an entire commune of Barbies.

My Dad made each one of us our own two-room doll house decorated with wallpaper, tile and remnants of the shag carpet leftover from construction of our house. To give the houses an upstairs, we stole the game boards from Monopoly and Chutes & Ladders and leveled them with blocks on the roofs. We even cut up empty cereal boxes to make convertible cars for our dolls.

The year I was born, my sisters each received Barbie houses
handmade by my Dad and decorated by my Mom. Get a
load of the curlers in my one sister's hair. Better yet, get a
load of that lamp hanging in the upper corner above the piano.
Groovy, man. 

And my sisters had the coolest dolls.

My oldest sister had Francie, Barbie's best friend. My next oldest sister had the vintage Barbie and this really cool working shower set. And my third sister had the absolute coolest Barbie-like doll of all: Tuesday Taylor.

I don't have any pictures of her playing with Tuesday Taylor, but I learned just last week that someone had uploaded this groovetastic gem to YouTube. (The first 30-second bit calls her Tiffany Taylor, but the second commercial, well, let's just say it's a fine specimen of life for women in the 1970s.)

As you can see in the video, Tuesday Taylor was this awesome doll whose hair could flip from blonde to brunette. In hindsight, she looked kind of like a confused skunk, but I remember begging and pleading for my sister to let me play with her Tuesday Taylor doll.

The only Barbie I had to play with at the time was a doll named Sunkissed; she was one of those cheap knock offs whose hollow plastic legs came apart and eventually fell off. (I still have her someplace in my packed-away collection of childhood memorabilia.)

Unfortunately, every time I would ask my sister if I could play with Tuesday Taylor, I heard the same thing: "No. You'll break her."

Every now and then -- after a lot of begging and pleading -- she broke down and let me play with Tuesday under close supervision, but more often than not I was denied.

My adult mind accepts her reasoning. After all, I was more than six years younger than she was and my four-year-old hands hadn't developed the excellent fine motor skills she had.

And I really had nothing to complain about. I soon got my very own real Barbie -- a Malibu P.J.  doll; she was the first in a rather extensive collection that included a Barbie Townhouse and a Barbie Beauty Salon. (I was NOT spoiled. The salon was a birthday present, and I spent an entire summer taking rusty nails out of a stack of used lumber to earn money for the townhouse.)

But my adult mind also occasionally reminds me how big of a load of bull my sister's excuse was.

You see, the sister that owned the Tuesday Taylor doll grew up to become a physical therapist. She takes people whose bodies are broken and helps get them back in working order. And she's very good at what she does.

She better be. She had enough practice on all of the Barbie dolls that she purposely broke just so she could put them back together.

Oh, if I only knew then what I know now...I still wouldn't change a thing.

* * *
Kathryn Harris is an award-winning journalist, professional whiner and author of the contemporary not-nearly-enough-smut-for-today's-horndog-readers novel "The Long Road to Heaven."

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