Our first toy story!

Here is our first toy story submitted by a real person! (We have had a few others that were submitted by the likes of Auguste Rodin and Wally Cox, but they turned out to be test missives submitted by the web designer…)

Story: When I was but a wee tyke (somewhere in the vicinity of five or six years old), I inherited a large, stuffed bear from my older sis. The bear, 'though pre-owned, was in pristine condition (and, incidentally, taller and wider than I was) until I decided its pristine plump-ness would make a perfect trampoline. I jumped and thumped on its poor ursine carcass until one of the eyes popped off. My mother (who, I assume, was keeping watch on her possibly insane son) said, "That's not very nice. How would you like it if the bear jumped on you and your eye popped out?" Fearing for my then-perfect vision, I stayed a respectable distance from my one-eyed crash pad for the rest of the day. It's almost 40 years later and I can still clearly remember the nightmare I had that evening: A monstrous, stuffed, one-eyed bear chasing me, trying to grab one of my eyes to replace his.

I don't think I ever played with that bear again.

--Neal, Los Angeles, CA

Why is it that so many of the really memorable toy stories have this sort of dark twist to them? (We at LATDA are in R&D for an exhibition on this very theme…Neal – you may become part of that exhibition!)

When I was a child, I read every piece of juvenile fiction that had to do with dolls. I read the Rumer Godden classics including the Miss Happiness and Miss Flower books; Hitty: Her First Hundred Years; The Lonely Doll; as well as any number of forgettable titles. When I ran out of titles in the juvenile section of our local library I started searching the adult fiction card catalog. An observant librarian stopped me from checking out a book called The Deadly Doll – I think it was a piece of pulp fiction.

Anyway, one of my favorite stories was an obscure book called The Village of Hidden Wishes, by David Fletcher. I read this book when I was about 8 or 9 and was never able to find it again. Every so often I would describe it to others, having forgotten the author and title, in hopes that someone would recognize it and lead me to it. In my senior year of college, I paid my first visit to the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. As always, the book came to mind and I described it to someone there. As I was talking and walking by the shelves, I suddenly stopped and reached towards a book with a blue spine. It was like an automatic writing impulse. My hand went straight to the book that I had been searching for over the past twelve years or so. As this was in the days before abebooks.com and Ebay, I had no way of purchasing this now-out-of-print book. But when I re-read it and made a note of the title and author, I was able to continue searching for my own copy. Eventually a librarian heard my story and ‘de-accessioned’ a copy from her library that had not been checked out since 1964.

It was a story about two sisters who owned two dolls that looked just like them. They foolishly wished that they could trade places with their dolls for a day and mentioned the fact to the proprietor of the local doll hospital. As they had deposited their dolls in the hospital for repair due to less than attentive care (their dog had savaged the dolls), Mr. Moon was less than sympathetic. The upshot of the story is that the girls do indeed trade places with the dolls and are tossed in the toy cupboard to face the ire of the rest of their neglected toys. The ringleader of the angry mob was Big Teddy. (Neal, did you ever read this book?)