Thursday, February 26, 2009

Theme Thursday = Toy


For some reason, as a girl, I adored throwing my dolls up in the air.I mentioned before about the pleasure of throwing the baby Jesus from my grandmother's nativity set as high to the ceiling as I could. She was not at all amused with this little fetish and would promptly order me to stop, which I did; until she left the room, of course.

When I was little, I would often dream I could fly; just start running in the grass, faster and faster until I was airborne. It was absolute heaven, drifting, wind in my face, arms out like Peter Pan, looking down at the roof of my house and yard. I've heard it said to dream of flying was a sign of creativity or was it simply my childhood need to feel liberated?

One bright summer day in East Lansing, Michigan, when I was five, I was doing my favorite Shirley Temple doll a favor by giving her the thrill of flight. Higher and higher she flew until she landed with a thump on the roof of the house. I was horrified. The thought of her up there on the blazing asphalt, was more than I could bear. I pleaded with my parents to rescue her, but to no avail. Fall came and by November, she was buried with a heavy blanket of snow. All winter, I imagined her up there, abandoned, cold and bewildered.

Spring finally came. My father, anxious to see a ball game, climbed up on the roof to adjust the TV antenna. He descended with a treasure; my beloved Shirley. Her ringlets were smashed, one of her eyelids hung partially shut, and she had lost that curious, inviting scent of new plastic, but I had never seen anything so lovely. I never dreamed of flying again.


Head of a Doll


Whose demon are you,
Whose god? I asked
Of the painted mouth
Half buried in the sand.

A brooding gull
Made a brief assessment,
And tiptoed away
Nodding to himself.

At dusk a firefly or two
Dowsed its eye pits.
And later, toward midnight,
I even heard mice.




I am dedicating this post to my two bloggy friends who are crazy about doll heads. Go pay Sharon at Sweet Repose and Steviewren at A Little Birdie Told Me So a visit and read their posts. You'll see what I mean!

66 comments:

  1. Poor little doll, Shirley Temple had a bad flight experience and ...all that time you were thinking of your doll up on the roof...don't you wonder how it may have changed you...that line, "never again dreamed of flying" feels as if it was going somewhere...did you lose your adventurous spirit? Maybe it is your creativity... and now you are expressing yourself with creative elegance...maybe you are flying? Old dolls, broken and overlooked...so sad...I suppose that feeling I have could lead somewhere, too. Thank you for the thoughts, willow. <3

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  2. The love one has for one's toys as a small child can be overwhelmingly strong.

    I used to dream of flying too, and translated some of those dreams into paintings when I was at school. I can still see them in my mind's eye, even though they are long gone.

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  3. I used to have those flying dreams too, Willow - still do, once in a while. I think you enjoy my post "A Doll's House" on Blasts From the Past.

    Kat

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  4. I used to dream of flying, but it always ended badly. I would panic and realize I couldn't fly and then come crashing into a tree. I learned how to do lucid dreaming, and have been able (on one or two occasions) been able to dream of flying fearlessly!

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  5. What a pity the gift of free flight deserted you with the return of your doll!

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  6. i loved this post, willow. you are a wonderful storyteller and this one made me smile!

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  7. Did you wear PF Flyers? Do you remember the tv ad showing you could fly if you wore them? I remember when I got a pair I ran down the sidewalk full tilt convinced that if I jumped right before the end of the street I'd take off. Alas about 10 inches was all I got and sometimes a rough landing. Probably around the time I stopped trusting corporate America. But I did dream at night of flying with Peter Pan. Have several vivid dream memories of Peter and me. Thanks for the reminder.

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  8. Jules,
    thanks so much for the picture of City Lights bookstore!... it came in the mail a week or so ago and I keep meaning to thank your for it... what a treasure! The spiritual home of the Beat and Hippie generations!

    Ron

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  9. Poor flying girl, trapped inside you. Let her out willow let her soar through the sunny sky, or among the stars. Open your wings and flyy!

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  10. What a hoot...I just finished another 'Cracked in the Head' nightlight and took a break and went to your blog...imagine my surprise, WHAT A GEM...put that baby on a light bulb, she's a real beauty...in a sick sorta way...HA!

    Thanks for the mention(you think it scared anyone away?)

    sharon

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  11. This is a wonderful story. I know you must have worried about little Shirley on the roof. You are very creative and I continue to love your blog. Day after day you come up with the neatest, most interesting posts.

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  12. Ah, dream flight with arms outspread!
    A wonderful post, Aloha-

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  13. Beautifully written, Willow. {I've really enjoyed your recent writings.} This post made me wistful... sad, even... for the child that is still in all of us, but doesn't surface often enough. Perhaps we're all a bit like beautiful, smashed dolls.

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  15. isn't it a crime what we as children put our toys through?

    At their expense we create FUN.

    "HOPE all is WELL"!!

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  16. Awww....I can't believe you dad didn't climb right up to rescue poor Shirley. Glad you finally got her back.

    Love the Simic poem.

    And this post totally made me think of Sharon. Happy to see the little plug at the end....

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  17. I'm rather ashamed that I've been saying for years that I'll take the doll I've had since three to 'Dolly Hospital' - she's sitting on my bedroom floor with a big hole in her head.

    Yes, I've had those dreams; just push off from the ground and fly over the rooftops - exhilirating! Lobsang Rampa used to call it 'Astral Travelling'.

    Loved your post but can't bear the thought of a little girl grieving for her dolly on the roof!

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  18. Willow, I saw the doll head and immediately found my heart beating a little faster...imagine my surprise when I got to the end of your post and found the link to my doll entry! Too funny! Thanks....and I think it's time for you to dream of flying again.

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  19. Such an adorable little tale of your mis-spent youth Willow :-)

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  20. Willow, according to my Mom, when I was the baby Jesus in that play, every one actually did think I was a doll. Proved 'em all wrong :)

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  21. Interesting post Willow. I have been curious all week as to what you would write about "Toy". Do you still have your Shirley Temple doll? My dolls are all gone, but I still have a few toys that I keep in a chest.
    :) Cheryl

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  22. I, too, spent many hours and years believing that if I practiced long enough and flapped my arms hard enough, I could, WOULD fly. My older cousins tired of telling me it was impossible because of gravity. So, one day, while at grandma's house, they talked me into jumping from the roof of her shed. I, being a suckaface, climbed, jumped and flapped as hard as I could to their cheers and laughter. I'm sure you know what happened in the end. I was lucky I didn't break any bones and bit my tongue so hard it bled profusely. The elder cousins were severly chastised and saddled with chores to tire out their mischievious antics.

    Although my Peter Pan flying attempts ended that day, there is a part of me that still truly believes that if just could believe, practice and flap hard enough, I could fly.

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  23. i love that you threw the baby jesus. that's hilarious! i once lost a ring in our yard somewhere as a child and i thought about it and worried about it in much the same way you worried about your doll on the roof, with the difference being that you actually knew where the doll was. i never did find my ring.

    as for flying in dreams, i do it all the time. i couldn't get along without it.

    /julie

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  24. the only thing i ever lost on the roof were wiffle balls and frisbees...if i'd have lost my stuffed Henry dog i'd go barking mad. Nice post, nice poem, and the thought of doll heads is now creeping me out.

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  25. I got stuck up on a roof when I was 5 years old. They did come and rescue me. Now I have a horrible fear of heights to this day.

    Just think of Shirley Temple up there all that time, all alone, it brings back memories for me. I was so scared and only there for a few hours. So glad you got her back and all was well for her. Sigh!

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  26. Very cool post and photo too!

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  27. What a sweet tale, or rather bittersweet because the ending is sad. And the poem is so beautiful. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  28. I enjoyed reading your post very much.When I was a child,I wanted to fly too,I never put one of my doll on the roof but other stuff of course.And yeah,there was that great satisfaction when you were seeing them again after a while.I would say that they had traveled and see things and now they are coming back home.They had flied for me.
    ;)

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  29. Great childhood story; wasn't familiar with that Simic poem. He certainly can get pretty dark at times.

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  30. I was always popping the heads of my dolls. I wonder why.

    I've got toys that belong to my son that we can not part with or put away, dinosaurs, The Snow Man, Rupert.

    Willow - thanks for a lovely focussed anecdote.

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  31. The dreams and mind of a child..is anything more precious? I toast you with a Shirley Temple!!

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  32. Wonderful post as usual. The dream of flight is with most of us, I wonder why.

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  33. Willow, Flossie, the bear like yours, had a little squeaker in her tale. The squeak sound is no longer working, but the mechanism is still there. She once had a ribbon around her neck, but that is long gone.

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  34. I absolutely loved this story! It made me think of two things:
    1) The movie Matilda, when Matilda rescues Miss Honey's "Lizzy Doll" from the scary house.
    2) The game my dad taught me, where you lay on the floor or bed and see how high you can throw the baseball without actually hitting the ceiling! A doll would probably be easier, because it's bigger...and easier to catch!

    If I could choose one super power, it would DEFINITELY be flying. It's invigorating...the wind in your face...

    I don't know how I stumbled upon your blog, but it always makes me smile!!

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  35. what a charming story but too sad that shirley's plight put an end to your nocturnal flights....

    when I was around 6 I saw peter pan (the version with mary martin) and for years I would pretend to be peter pan flying around - generally from sofa to chair filling my parents with despair....

    I still dream of being able to fly - not often, but on occasion....and I love those flying dreams....

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  36. I used to dream I could fly...in fact I am sure I did once!

    Collecting doll heads?...too creepy!

    I did like the poem though :)

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  37. haunting pic. great story and wonderful telling. may you love to fly once more.

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  38. As a child, I remember dreaming I could fly by breathing out, then taking tiny sips of air just to stay afloat. It worked great - in my dreams :-)

    Hope you find your flying wings again, and thanks for visiting my blog, willow. Yours is superb.

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  39. Good to know you were cured of this flying experience. Poor Shirley had to suffer through the bitter seasons.
    I never wanted to fly but I wanted to run so fast I could outrun my dad's car. Silly...

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  40. Hello Willow,

    I know that many people love broken dolls but I find the one in your picture rather sinister and the poem suits that feeling too, I think; something lost and deserted which creatures haunt! But then I was never a dolly person!

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  41. I have Catherine's lovely porcelain doll with a cracked head under her lace mob cap in my sitting room. But she was not tossed - some over loving little girl hugged her too hard.

    Thank you, Willow for your help with Google Images. I am a little concerned re copyright but I just posted a blog on Joan Didion with a great pic of that strong, intense face!

    Didn't we have a time with the word verification problem on Monday?! Ants in the jam and gremlins on the Net!

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  42. I dream of flying always . . . as a child . . .and now as an adult!!!! Glad to find another free-spirit! I love your blog!

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  43. To soar high on gentle breezes .... if Shirley had been mine, she'd have stayed grounded and likely been a client during those days when at age 6 I longed to be a beautician

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  44. Kind of a haunting photo. Eyeless dolls are like windows to somewhere else...

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  45. flying dreams! I remember having many. How could they have left shirley on the roof? Cruel parents . . .

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  46. That is such a good story!

    I used to dream I could fly.... that is until I leaped off the end of a rising teeter totter and landed on my face. After that, I was going to be a goat farmer. :) (Love of the earth, and all.. :)

    I'm glad you got your doll back and were able to share this!

    Sarah

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  47. I have to admit that some dolls terrify me...and that one did it!

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  48. Throwing your doll on the roof and her remaining there throughout the Winter - did you think of her during that winter? Your doll's head I find somewhat macabre.

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  49. one of my favorite things - doll heads - I have a small collection and some I've used in my assemblage art - love the idea of you tossing your dolls in the air!

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  50. Yipes. That sounds as if it could have been a tad traumatic. Imagining of poor Shirley up there in all kinds of weather. No wonder you gave up the dream of flight.

    For myself, although told of the immposibility of my dream, I was undaunted and jumped off a very high stone wall when I was six in my attempt to fly. Reality hit in the form of a leg that was broken in three places. I keep thinking that perhaps, if I had used an open umbrella like Mary Poppins, it might have been a different story.

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  51. Never liked doll heads. They remind me too much of something decapitated. Not sure why.

    I think I found some new ideas here. I just have to remember it and at my age that is no small feat. My other blog is inspiring some interesting comments too on Pat and Abe. Still waiting on those two poetry books.

    My Skywatch Post

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  52. So many interesting bits in this story! I was very loving to my dolls, but couldn't help myself from butchering the hair of all of the Barbies. Thanks for another intriguing Simic poem.

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  53. That dolly is freaking me out!

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  54. Hi Willow, I too used to dream of flying. My grandparents had a huge yard and I would especially love it when the hot summer winds blew and the sky was so clear. The hot wind in my face and on my wings (arms) felt so good and made me feel so free. Your post just took me back and in my mind I experienced it all again - even the smell of the summer air. It's funny how that smell just came back to me, almost as if it was here in this room. I wish so much I could be there today. Thanks for the memory. It has made me smile. Kim

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  55. Abe, I'm still waiting on my Simic books from the library. I hope they're in by tomorrow!

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  56. I love this story for its sense of exuberance and a tinge of naughtiness. Poor Shirley, but poor you who worried so.

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  57. Willow,
    Little green plastic soldiers were my "dolls". They inspired great feats of heroism in my daydreams.
    I tried to make them real in the early sixties and came face to face with fact vs. fantasy.
    rel

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  58. Brilliant post.

    That doll picture is so scary. Whenever I have a particularly bad day I always call it a "chuckie" day.

    So glad your dad rescued your Shirley doll.

    one of your more wonderful little quirks is your love of tossing dolls in the air.

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  59. I was brought up on Shirley Temple too! She was my idol and I adored my doll. I feel sad that she stayed up on your roof! I would have been traumatized. Are you okay?!!! :)
    Happy walking - If I had your view I'd join ya!
    Catherine

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  60. I just remembered that I used to have a Shirley Temple doll too. I wonder where it is? Now I'm sad.

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  61. I mistreated my dollies badly. My mother used to feel sorry for them in varying states of undress and dress them nicely before laying them in their dolly cot! Bad mama I was!

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  62. Awww that poor doll! But what a sight it must have been for your parents to see your smile when you were reunited with her.

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  63. All those pictures of doll heads are rather creepy - but - I love the story of you, your Shirley Temple Doll , and flying...Your posts usually open up memory doors for me and this one is no different..this time I am remembering the "bad boy" in the neighborhood who smashed my Betsy Wetsy doll's head...it was a long time before my mother bought me another one...

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  64. WOW! what a photo, personal story and poem. this is one of the top toy posts I've seen this week. probably the best ~ or my favorite anyway, and especially since I too threw a doll on the roof, a cloth doll with yarn braids.

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  65. Flying Dolls! To Give another the Gift Of Flight!
    But,you didnt say.do you dream of dolls?
    I love that idea.Toys as extensions & Missionaries

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  66. No, I'm mistaken. This one must be your favorite.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)