Tag Archives: favorite toys

My Doll Survived Because of the Catskills Attic

19 Dec

In the Catskills Betsy, my doll, with my cousin who has finally made friends with her.


I only have one toy left from my childhood. It is not that I purposely saved it because I loved it the best. I actually had other toys that I loved more. But this toy survived because of her journey to the Catskills.

When my sister was born, I was gifted a large standing doll. The doll is over two and half feet tall. I did love her. And I believe I named her Betty or Betsy or perhaps Becky, which was what my Dad called my Mom, even though that was not her name. I kept her in my bedroom and I loved her!

I remember when the doll arrived. She had a pink dress, light brown hair, pink shoes and socks. My Grandma Esther knitted her another beautiful pink dress. I enjoyed playing with her, but there was a problem. She was so big , I really could not cuddle with her. She was best for tea parties, playing school and perhaps discussing an issue. She seemed so real. And that was her biggest problem.

Betsy was so real looking. During the day she was not a problem, but if you woke up in the middle of the night, she would be standing there staring at you with her big eyes open! My sister and I were used to her, but one of my cousins lived in fear of her. She was afraid to sleep when the doll was in the room.

She really was too big for the apartment we lived in during the winters in New Jersey. So Betsy the doll moved up to our Catskill’s bungalow in Kauneonga Lake to be used only in the summer time. In the Catskills we had much more room to play. And she loved being up there.

Eventually I outgrew playing with the doll. But my sister grew to love her. She says, “I loved to play with her and thought of her as mine, since you had outgrown her.”

In time, Betsy moved from our bungalow to my maternal grandparent’s house, until one summer when she was gone. That is what happened with toys. They just disappeared when you outgrew them. I assumed she was given away.

To be honest I don’t think I even looked for her. There is so much to do in the summer time. And Betsy was no longer an important part of my life. She lived in my memories.

But my sister still had a relationship with Betsy. The doll was moved to the attic bedrooms of my grandparent’s Catskills winter home. My sister would play with her and see her when she went to visit in the winters. I was four years older, so while I was away at college, my sister was still spending time in the Catskills in the fall and winter. “Remember,” she told me, ”we did not go into the attic that much in the summer. ” Of course not…it was HOT up therein the summer, but wonderful in the winter.

After my sister went away to college, the doll was put into a closet and eventually forgotten. At some point my grandparents moved her from a closet to one of the hidden nooks.

But Betsy was not totally forgotten. We often talked about my big doll and how scary she was at night, or when you weren’t expecting to see her. We would remember the people who came in and were frightened the first time they saw her thinking she was a real toddler.

Years later, when I was in my early 30s, after both my grandparents had passed away,  my parents inherited the house in the Catskills. They started the process of cleaning it out. We all helped. I was assigned the two bedrooms in the attic, cleaning out the nooks that were hidden in the crawlspace walls of the bedrooms.

Usually the doors into these spaces were covered by the beds. But we moved the beds away and went in to clean them out.   I was surprised to find one perfectly clean except there, lying on the floor, was Betsy! She was a little ragged. Her clothes were gone. Her hair was a little messy. But she had survived, alone in that hidden space for years!

I was excited. I now had a toddler daughter, and I thought she would love Betsy.

I brought the doll downstairs. My mom, sister and I washed and cleaned her up.   She needed clothing!   My daughter wanted to give her some of her clothes, but we decided to buy her something just for her.

The women (Mom, my sister, my daughter and I) went to the Apollo Mall in Monticello and we purchased a 2 Toddler dress. I also found her a beautiful pink straw hat. She looked refreshed and wonderful.  Eventually the granddaughters gave her some lovely bracelets as well!

It took us a while to decide where she would stay. No one wanted her in a bedroom. TOO scary. My parents decided to put her in the stone room, where new generation of girls began to play with her…the granddaughters. But she would not disturb anyone’s sleep.

To this day, 25 years later, Betsy still stands in the stone room by the back door, which is the door that welcomes our guests. She has a purse; she has the same dress; she does not always wear her hat. She guards the door! Some people are startled when they first walk in. But she does not look so real anymore.

However, my cousin, who was afraid of her as a child, still had a little fright when she entered the stone room and saw her for the first time as an adult. She had to share her scary Betsy stories. I think after the sharing, she was able to become friends with Betsy.

My parents have both passed away. My siblings and I own the Catskills house. Betsy stands guard. She is a wonderful reminder of my childhood.
It seems Betsy is a Patty Play Pal doll. Thanks to Maxene for the information.

The Purple Princess Car is Home!

16 Dec
Lara in Purple Car

She got the Purple Princess car for her second birthday. Here she is at 2 and 2 days.

After a 17 or so year stay in a home where it was loved by many children, my daughter’s purple car has returned home for Hanukkah 2015. I retrieved it in early December from its foster home.

I purchased the purple princess Little Tikes car for my daughter’s second birthday. Not the red sedan that most people purchase, this car was special. It made us think about the car in the movie, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” It had character and appeal.

When she was little, my daughter’s car stayed in our basement, which was finished, but had no furnishings, except for a multitude of toys.   Our neighbor’s had twin daughters who were five years older than my daughter. They would come over every day after school, sometimes with their older sister, and play with my daughter. They loved to push her around in the purple princess car. She would get dressed up in elaborate outfits including a toy tiara. And they would entertain her for hours.

The purple car was so important to her. She just loved it. But in time she outgrew it and could no longer fit behind the wheel. Then our son, who was 4 ½ years younger, outgrew the car as well.

Elephant slide

My daughter plays on her beloved elephant slide. An empty basement except for toys.

I had a basement filled with Little Tikes toys: a kitchen, a workshop, easel, car, airplane, rocking horse, shopping cart, dishes, an elephant slide (another favorite!), teeter/totter, picnic table, table and chairs, toy chests, bookshelves. We even had a Little Tikes Log cabin in the basement, which the boys loved to ‘build’ on with the Little Tikes tools. There was just so much!

A friend of mine sold Little Tikes items so I had an easy way to get these items at a reasonable price. But it was enough! I decided I had to find homes for some of these toys. A cousin took a few items, but she did not want nor had room for all of it. And her son had no desire for the little girl toys. I had to find a loving home for all these beloved toys.

One day I was speaking to one of the kindergarten teachers at the school where I taught. She had been my children’s teacher, and was now a grandmother. She wanted some toys for her grandchildren to enjoy at her home.   Did I have a deal for her! Take my toys. I have tons, I told her. We set a date for her to come and see my stash!

I was excited. I had found a good home for the toys in my basement. Chose what you want, I told her. She came over and took many of the toys, including the purple princess car. I was so happy that the toys would be loved. I took the money she paid me and donated it to charity, a double mitzvah. The toys had a home, and others had food.

I thought it was wonderful till my daughter came home from school. She was in middle school. When I told them what I had done with the Little Tykes toys, she immediately said, “Not my car!” Yes it was gone as well. She wanted me to get it back.

But I really did not think she needed it. Eventually her tears and pouting got to me. She really wanted the car back even though she could not use it. Ridiculous, I know. I called. “I think I need the car back,” I told my friend. She could not give it back. Her granddaughter loved that car and used it whenever she came over. So I said keep it. But when your grandchildren are done with it, I would like to have it back. She made that promise. She would return the car to me in the future.

I told my daughter that eventually we would have the purple princess car back. She was still angry, but that was the only solution. Over the years, whenever she got really mad at me, she would bring it up. “How could you give away my car! You didn’t even ask!”

The purple car loomed over us as a point of contention.   Even the twins, their older sister, and their mother could not believe I had given away the purple princess car. For 17 years I lived with this blight on my existence.

Until December 5, 2015, at Barnes and Noble when I saw the teacher. I had not seen her for a number of years. We hugged. And she said. I have the purple car. My grandchildren are grown, and I know that your daughter is getting married. Would you like the car back?”

Would I like the car back!!! OF COURSE! I will be in touch I said.

Luckily we are Facebook friends. I sent her a private message with my phone number. She called. Less than a week later, on December 11, I went on what I called a secret Hanukkah mission, to get the car back.


The Purple Princess Car on the day I picked it up to come home.

Friday morning on the fifth day of Hanukkah, I visited with my old friend…and the car. We caught up on family and just chatted for over an hour. It was a great visit. Then we carried the purple princess car out of her house, and I loaded it into the trunk of my car.

When I got home, I emailed my daughter that we needed to speak. I had a Hanukkah surprise.

Later that day when we were able to speak, we videoed chatted. “I am going to send you an email. DO NOT open it till we are talking,” I commanded.

She listened. When she opened the email my daughter was so happy. There was a photo of the purple princess car and her kindergarten teacher. I took a photo of them together so she could see that it was really her car.

She said “Finally! Is it home? ” I sent her a photo of the car in our garage. Lara’s Hanukkah is complete.

I posted a note about the return of the car on my Facebook page.   One of my daughter’s high school teachers commented that even she knew about the purple car, as my daughter had written about it in English class. I know that car was in my daughter’s soul.

I am so thankful that the ‘foster’ family took such good care of the purple princess car. I am so thankful the promise to return it to us was fulfilled.

My daughter shared the photo on her Facebook page and wrote:

“My car is home! And it’s perfect timing too because I was just saying to my fiancée that I really need a small one-person car.”

I hate to be the one to disappoint her, but my husband says she will no longer fit into the purple princess car. But we are glad that we made her Hanukkah complete.



PS: The car is currently almost 28 years old!  It has held up remarkably well with love and attention!