Great toys never die… pass the raisins.

January 10, 2008

If I correctly remember what my Mom told me… the Fisher-Price dollhouse that I am playing with in this photo (yes, that’s me! with bad hair, as always) was given to me the year I was born.


I loved that dollhouse. In fact, I still have it, in very good condition, in a box in my storage closet. Back in 2002 I snapped it up, along with many of my other childhood toys, during my final visit to my old house in Bethesda, MD. I went home for a weekend in October that year to help my parents sort through 23 years of accumulated junk as they prepared to move away. (Coincidentally, I drove back to Maryland on the exact weekend that the DC Sniper attacks were just breaking out… I remember Mom very worriedly telling me not to stop for gas or anything else once I got into the state.)

During that visit, I spent long hours on the deck out back with my parents and I think my Aunt Carol, and we just starting plowing through boxes and boxes of stuff from the attic. We needed to decide what deserved to be held on to, and what things could be let go after one last trip down memory lane.

Now, mind you, there was a LOT of sorting to be done. When my family moved in to that house in the June of 1979, a lot of old toys and papers and things had been boxed up for the move… then went directly to the attic and had not seen the light of day since then! Because it turns out that moving to the house on Old Chester Road had really signified the end of the “little kid” era of my life. We moved the year that I was transitioning from elementary school to junior high school. In our previous home, my dollhouse resided on the built-in shelves in my bedroom. When we moved, the dollhouse and several other favorite toys quietly disappeared into the woodwork, not to be thought of for decades.

[Insert commentary here about how kids “these days” have so much crap that you could take away half of it and they would never notice. OK? But that’s not the point here. Let’s move on.]

I had a few “ah-hah!” moments when some of my old Fisher-Price toys started to surface. I remembered thinking, “so THAT’s where such-and-such toy has been. Why didn’t I realize it until now? I had great toys! I have missed these toys! ”

And then a lot of great memories came back as I pulled the dirty, dusty toys out of the boxes to assess their condition.

The dollhouse had a thick layer of attic crud on it, but all the pieces seemed to be there. I decided to save it and all my other FP toys so that my boys could play with them. Because how cool is it for your kids to play with the same toys you had enjoyed 20 to 30 years before?

So I got some rags and some sort of cleaner and went to work. The house itself needed a good wipe-down, but some of the little people and the furniture also needed special attention. The little beds used to have pieces of foam or sponge glued on top… but the sponge material had dry-rotted over the years. With a certain amount of sadness I scraped away the remaining bits of “bedding,” so that all that remained was the hard residue of the glue beneath. No matter — the yellow plastic bedframe still worked!

And then I found the kitchen appliances.

The appliances weren’t part of the main dollhouse package… they were a special accessory set that you could buy to furnish the kitchen. A small plastic refrigerator and oven each had little doors that could snap open and shut. I picked up the fridge and thought of all the times I had played with it, pretending to put food inside, pulling the little doors open and shut to hear that pleasing plastic SNAP sound.

So I snapped open the fridge door.

And found petrified raisins.

Yes folks, that is correct. Raisins from a good 20 years prior, still resided inside the little fridge and the oven. I seem to recall there being some kind of white filmy or webby substance in there as well. But I knew those little turdy remains were raisins because… well… because I had a thing for raisins when I was little. We even have a tape recording of me at about age 3, asking for raisins on Christmas morning. And I do remember putting them in that fridge sometimes. 🙂

In the end, the dollhouse got cleaned up along with a lot of other Fisher-Price greats: my town, my castle, my houseboat, and others. And they, along with all the Little People (of which hardly any had been lost, because I have always had a certain anal tendency when it comes to keeping track of my toys) made the trip with me back to Kentucky.

I let my boys play with them until I realized that they were determined to lose all the small parts that I had worked so many years to keep track of (there’s that anal tendency again).

Then I boxed them all up and put them away.

Hopefully without any raisins inside this time.


One comment

  1. THAT is awesome. I’m packing up all of my son’s toys right now to make room for all the new stuff he’ll get for christmas. It’s so hard deciding what we should keep and what should go to charity, what should go to the recycle center/landfill. I have very little from when I was young so I want my kids to have a few things. One of the things I considered when deciding what goes into the attic and what just goes was whether or not we have a picture. I think I’ll try to make copies of photos and put them with the toys in the attic. Great blog.

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