Saturday, August 15, 2020

For Sarah

Click the link to read about my grandmother and the toys she had for her grandchildren to play with, among other fantastic memories. 

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time. Every time I come close to doing so I pause, because I am just not sure I can. I think I am ready. My grandmother passed away four years ago this month. Her loss hit me hard. It still hits hard. My grandmother lived a block away from my parents' house so for as long as I can remember she was always closely in our lives.

A stylish Italian woman with bright red hair, Sarah was the quintessential lady. She loved leopard print and drinking Dr. Pepper. She loved everyone, but if you were messy in any way, she'd toss some sassy comment in the most elegant way. She loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Whenever any of us came by to visit she'd want to cook for us. Taking the time to sit and visit with a glass of Dr. Pepper was an event not to be missed. As kids, she'd have a bunch of toys for us to play with on our visits. She also always had the latest Sears catalog and I loved perusing those pages and looking at all of the toys imagining what type of wonderland would exist with each figure and play set. As adults the visits involved bringing lunch and playing dominoes at her kitchen table. My grandmother loved a good game, it was the perfect opportunity to have fun and learn what was new, how everyone was doing along with a dash of neighborhood gossip.

After she passed my immediate family and I had to go through her house and prepare to have it sold. We went through everything and either gave items to other family members, gathered items to be donated, or held onto things that really meant a lot to us. Since I have such a love for toys and the memories they contain, I held onto the toys she had for us to play with when we were kids. 

So let's look at them!

Mattel's Mother Goose

I was the fourth grandchild, so by the time I came along most of the toys at my grandmother's were from the late '70s. They had a charm that I just loved. This toy is pretty self-explanatory, you spin the handle and Mother Goose pops out. The device does not work like it did all those years ago, but there is no way I could ever toss this! 
Each side has an image of a Mother Goose nursery rhyme.
The theme for each one has the character with an animal in the background. I like the look on the sheep's face.
I don't really recall this nursery rhyme, but the image always creeped me out, like birds all in the king's pie and stuff. Seemed grody.
The top of the lid had that Mattel logo, one of the most iconic toy logos ever. A great marketing design for the toy and brand, one of many toy marketing tools that helped pave the way for my toy collecting ways!

Animal Blocks 
I spent so much time with these blocks. I don't know much about their name or who made them. They were blocks to help with spelling and used images and letters to be matched. The added bonus was that you could create your own Frankenstein mashup of animal combinations. 
The illustrations give off a late '60s or '70s vibe, and I completely love the way each animal looks.
A purple horse? I did grow up during the first generation of My Little Pony, so it worked for me!
The goat always reminded me of my Papa (my grandmother's husband). He was a really hard working man that loved his family. He could be a bit stubborn, but he loved his grand-kids a great deal. He passed a few days before my 8th or 9th birthday so we did not spend much time together in this life.
I don't know that this particular block would be made today! Granted I was young and had no idea the double meaning of words. I did really value the bright colors of the rooster though. The other animals had more subdued colors, but there's just a bunch of colors together that make the design fun.
There were six blocks in total, meant to be split into two pairs. The other pair was missing a third block, so for as long as I can recall, these animals were never able to be fully connected. I loved the pink block because I have just always loved pink, but I was so curious about what the sheep's behind looked like.
The cow's missing middle made me think of magic tricks where magicians saw someone in half. Poor cow. One simply had to use their imagination to figure what the whole cow might have looked like.
The biggest mysteries for me were the dog and the duck below.
What do their faces look like? Are they cheerful or worried? Are they as precious as the other animals or their expressions the stuff of nightmares. Dear readers, I have wanted to know these answers for almost 40 years! It is insane!

Squeaky Cat
Another toy that I do not really know the origins of, but I always loved the look of it. The blue is vibrant and the whimsy of this cat was always so fancy to me. Just too precious!

Roller Lady Bug
Another toy mystery in terms of manufacture or official name, but this item is one of the best toys. The little lady bug has clear polka dots with various colors under the plastic with wheels underneath. 
The wobbly eyes are really cute though one of the antenna has fallen by the wayside through time.
As you wheel the lady bug around, there is a spinning dome with colorful dots that shift under the clear plastic. It was like magic! The wheels still move however the colorful dome does not.

Hot Wheels Service Center 
When my sibling and I pulled this beast out, we both knew some fun was about to unfold. Ba-da-bum.
It was like a city all for us to play with. I would pretend that this was Pine Valley. I'd bring my own toys to my grandmother's and have them interact with everything. The car wash would become a restaurant. The Transmissions place was a store to go shopping. The upper garage was a house. My figures were always involved in some drama or another and this set was the backdrop for that to happen. 

Gaming Bag
This was my grandmother's gaming bag. We never really played with it but when I saw it I had to hold onto to it. It symbolized her joy for playing games and having a good time with her friends.
The design on the vinyl is also really cute. It just brings up so many memories of learning how to play dominoes and the pretend bets we would make. How she'd start a big game at any family function and we'd all just have so much fun.

Before she got really sick, we would sometimes talk about plans, like her plans and wishes. She would always say, "When I am gone, there might be people that get up to speak about me. That is fine, but I realy want to make sure you say something about me. You have a way with words and it would make me so happy. Promise me." I'd always nod and reply, "Of course grandmother."

At her funeral I made good on that promise and I spoke about her. I wasn't going to hold back. This wasn't going to be a cut and dry no muss no fuss speech. No, no, no, I wanted everyone in that room to know how amazing she was. What her love really meant, the goodness in her soul. Her love and acceptance.

There were a lot of people there. Most had known about my transition, others had heard whispers or seen me briefly to know that I had been through some changes. It was always something that was treated as a topic not to be discussed. But I wanted everyone to know her truth. I wanted them to know that she embraced and accepted me as her granddaughter. I wanted everyone in that room to know how much she loved and fought fiercely for what was right and was just the most fabulous woman. That we all needed to be more like her. That we were all blessed to know her and to be connected to her and just how much I was going to miss her. 

I think about her daily. I carry her voice in my head and I live out many of her beliefs in life. I value the importance of lipstick and having some sort of face on. Lotions, potions, and tonics to help moisturize and replenish are truly a girl's best friend. I fill my heart with a warmness and love for everyone, but if you act a certain way towards me, I might have a look on my face. In other words my eye rolling skills have never been better. Bringing people together to entertain with food, fun games, and conversation is a way to solidify bonds and build a life time of memories. And when you really want to make a statement, you wear leopard.  



  1. I love this so much. Makes me think of the Tupperware tots my Nanee used to keep at her place for when any kids dropped by.

  2. GREAT post! I still remember some of the toys at my Grandma Winnie's. Grandmothers are special, I sure miss mine.

  3. Those look great. Those old school toys really stood up over time.