About Me

My photo
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, December 4, 2009

R.I.P. ~ Remembering Tiny Tears

I have repeatedly revisited the photos Kass took of my old neighborhood, seemingly taking in something new each time. I've zoomed in for a closer look and mentally organized the placement of the houses on either side of my duplex, piecing together which way was north, which south, and which direction I would have walked to the mom-and-pop store with Lorri to buy my hoppy taws. Someone else pointed out to me there is crusty snow on the ground on the parking strip. I'd missed that! I'm simply trying to take in too much information and imagery at one time.

And so, it was only today that I saw it in the photo above. Although I have erroneously referred to it as a telephone pole in a previous post, it appears that the huge spike at the end of the driveway is actually an old wooden light standard. However, there can be no question about it. Pedaling along the driveway on the bike, it is surely that very pole I needed to avoid when I executed my right hand turn onto the sidewalk. Of course, I didn't make it. I whacked into that post with my front tire, thereby ejecting Tiny Tears into the street and cracking her head.

I have a certain fondness for the memory of Tiny Tears. It seems she was an important member of our small family. Granny-O had made her a doll quilt to match my quilt, and dresses to match some of my dresses. She'd traveled with us from L.A. to Salt Lake City in the backseat of the car with me, not in the moving van with other toys. I wonder if my carsickness bothered her as much as it bothered everyone else. She never said anything.

My daughter will turn 20 in January. I remember the toys she played with ~ how carefully we selected them and what learning we hoped each toy would foster. For Amber's toys had purpose. At age 3, the child pushed a wheeled cart filled with clunky, toddler-hands-friendly plastic Fisher Price food around the house for 6 months. She carried a crayon and a waitress' order pad (I bought those pads frequently~ this child had a lot of customers who looked only like Ex and me or Grandma or Grandpa) and served us plastic meals of chicken legs, grapes and corn on the cob. She wore an ancient apron made by my Granny who had died 3 years before Amber was born. She sported a name tag Ex found. Her waitress name was Esther. I liked her name and her game. I felt it taught her about diet and nutrition and what people did for a living. She had a crude working knowledge of customer service, because she called her dad "Sir" and always made sure to wipe the table and fold a napkin. We gave her play currency and she returned play coins that we left on the table for a tip. Fun and games with purpose in grown-up Limes' home. That's how we approached parenting. Provide toys and activities as realistic as possible, considering her age, safety and what we hoped she would learn.

I compare this to toys when I was a child. Little 1950s girls were expected to be future mothers and housewives. We needed babies and tea sets and plastic high heels and pop beads to play with and dysfunctional families to emulate when we played house. Tiny Tears was a study as a faux baby. I'm sliding a whole lot of slack to the American Doll Company for the lack of technology during the period of time they produced Tiny Tears. Lots of points for "Hey, it was the 1950s." But Tiny Tears could well have been the cause of many serious future parenting disasters. For Tiny Tears' operation and configuration was, um, odd.

Her head was hard plastic with a molded wave of baby hair thought attractive in the day. Her eyes were revolutionary! Instead of snapping shut like other dolls' eyes when one tipped her baby back into a reclining position, Tiny Tears' eyes fluttered shut in a more natural way. The American Doll Company's tagline was "rock-a-bye eyes". The long, bristly black nylon lashes were attractive, too. On her face, between her eyes and the bridge of her nose were two tiny holes that make me think of a reptilian face. These were not her nostrils - they'd be in the wrong location. These were the holes from which her tears would flow. Her nostrils were in the usual location and had no opening. Hard, solid pink plastic. Her pink rosebud lips appeared to have a perfectly symmetrical hole drilled between them - this to accommodate her baby bottle and other accessories. Tiny Tears was a girl who could do many things! Of course, she wet her diaper - lots of dolls could do that.

But Tiny Tears' coup - oh, the poetry of it! - was something that no other doll could do. Her body was made from soft, pliable plastic. It needed to be soft and pliable for a girl to cause Tiny Tears to execute the coup. Any of the waterworks tricks began with filling Tiny Tears with water. One did this by means of the baby bottle. So after a feeding, Tiny Tears could be expected to expel the liquid by wetting her diaper if one simply fed her and let her be. If a girl wanted to create tears, however, she would feed her baby and then squeeze the doll's abdomen hard to make her cry. I would likely cry, too, if loaded with water and then squeezed hard. But the coup ~ ~ Tiny Tears came complete with her layette and a bubble pipe! And, yes, the girl could blow bubbles. After a young lady convinced her parents to allow her a drop of diswashing liquid for the pipe, she then had to bottle feed Tiny Tears, remove the bottle from her mouth, pop the pipe into her mouth and squeeze the abdomen again - hard. While the squeezing to produce tears could be less extreme, I squeezed so hard to produce bubbles, I could feel my fingertips touch through Tiny's middle - I'd squeeze her to about 1/2 inch thickness. The reader can imagine that a girl's playroom could get pretty wet and sudsy as she worked through her busy day learning to be a mother. That didn't sit well with the real parents, either.

I'm going to credit my own and other 1950s parents with wanting to achieve similar goals to those of Ex and me: Provide toys and activities as realistic as possible, considering her age, safety and what we hoped she would learn. I must state that imagining Tiny Tears' insides conjures up images of very bad plumbing schemes and the rituals of "feed her, let her wet", "feed her, squeeze out some tears", "feed her, squeeze her extra hard for bubbles" gave me some very strange ideas about babies and mothering. But I sure-as-shootin' got the message that parenting was hard work and required one to be able to juggle a lot of balls at one time. That lesson was good and true.

I didn't enoy getting the sharp side of my parents' tongues for whacking my bike and my doll in one fell swoop. I wanted a little sympathy for having whacked myself, too. I was pretty banged up. I think I'll close this post with the three Nows standing on the sidewalk you see. Young parents a little tightly twisted and echoing much of the tender upbringing (yes, that is sarcastic) they'd suffered. Scraped up and bewildered kid who had some damned funny ideas about taking care of babies, who knew she needed a few more practice rounds turning out of the driveway, who knew her Tiny Tears was toast, and who knew she had experienced a small trauma and felt - oddly - guilt and shame for it. On another blog over the past days, I've participated in some commentary about feeling guilt and shame in situations where those emotions don't seem appropriate. This was one of the first times I remember feeling misplaced guilt and shame. It wouldn't be the last. And I am not ending the post on a downward tone. I'm telling what happened and how it was for me. That's the purpose of the exercise, remember?

Photo credit with gratitude for the shot of my childhood home: Kathryn Feigal

In my ears right now: I wanted to end this post with a giggle and some noise. I knew just what to go find. There is so much wrong with this, I couldn't possibly complete the list. And - yes - I really love it! It started my birds chirping loudly and it made me jump up to dance. Too bad I'm not nearly as narrow as either Mick or Bowie!

Something that charmed me: Writing about one's family can be difficult. One doesn't want to have her stories stamped "whiner". In the blog I mentioned, where there was discussion of parental behavior and its effects children, the blogger was so level and balanced in her refusal to be critical of her parents. She said, "I'm just telling what happened. There was plenty to counter-balance anything bad that happened." I hope I can come across in just exactly that way as I write about my life and my family. I have to tell it the way I feel it. I try not to judge harshly. I still don't have the means to understand some of it. One might want to look at that blog. The post would be The Chalk Line, December 2, 2009.


  1. I suppose that if Tiny Tears had seen this video, she might have fainted after wetting herself from laughing so hard!

  2. You may have something there, Badge. However, that Tiny Tears was MY Tiny Tears, so she may simply have grinned widely, reached her soft plastic arms out to me and rocked like I rock to it. Sometimes the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Nice to have you aboard the bus this afternoon.

  3. Limes - That's MY
    bicycle! I remember having a favorite doll with a soft body that I went EVERYWHERE with. I took a bath with her and her Kapok-stuffed body swelled up with water, but I kept her for weeks until the smell got so bad my mom found her in the closet and made me throw her out. It was devastating. When I was a little older, I used to sleep with every one of my dolls, even a life-size dancing doll. There was barely any room for me on my single bed. I felt like they were alive and real and if I didn't have them in my bed with me, they would suffer.

  4. Badger, don't tell you weren't at least tapping your toes with Mick and Davey. Limes this is interesting getting childhood from a girl's point of view. I wonder what my sister went through with 4 brothers. GI Joe, Air rifles, footballs, basketballs and skateboards all over the house. We tried to kill our toys. RIP Batman, knuckleball to the head took him right out. Boom! wv-muntlar. I went to LA in 1963. A muntlar I was back in Ohio.

  5. Have you told Rachel Fenton you accepted her award. I'll bet she would be tickled.
    WV= taggie - taggie, you're it.

  6. You have such keen memories. I wish I could remember things as well as you do. Reading your posts sparks something in me - I can't quite put my finger on it. It makes me feel fragile.

  7. Saturday morning reminder to self: the music you live with can affect your mood. ;~} I'm at the office terrifying home dudes, but pleasing birdies and myself again with Dancing in the Streets. "Limes, that video is just WRONG!" "Well, that's the word I used about it in my post, homes."

    Last night I went home and did something completely different. I published all of your comments, but I did not sit down to start typing replies feverishly. My friend had sent me literature about a subject I need to learn about. Took a trip to my bookcase where sat the seminal writing about it that I already owned. Then I did more research online. I'm on my way! I slept through the night, not troubled.

    @ Dear Kass ~ I think we all had that bike, Kass. Maybe it was the only one considered acceptable for young ladies in a certain place and time! Mine was purchased at Grand Central - how's that for popping out an SLC institution name?

    It is interesting to me that you brought the dolls into bed for fear they would suffer, otherwise. I was suffering and, therefore, I brought the girls into bed with me. By the way, you wrecked your doll bathing her. I was notorious for cutting dolls' hair terribly. I'm surprised I'm not a hair artist today. Life sized dancing dolls! I forgot to put it in my Davy Crockett post. One of my gifts was the life sized Davy. I'd slip his elastic straps over my shoes and we did some fancy stepping! He was taller than I, so he kind of bent in the middle with his rear end sticking out.

    I'm going to visit Rachel's blog today.

    @ Tag ~ Don't know that the Badger will pop back on to admit to toe tapping, but I can tell you a series of lively e-mails was being exchanged immediately after I posted. He applied some very descriptive words to the video, Mick and David. They were dead-on. But those words will not appear on this blog. He LIKED it.

    Tag, it's interesting that you key in on my writing being the telling of a "girl's story". Yes, I had dolls, toy dishes, etc. Lots of relatives and friends fed that girl thing. But my dad always treated me like his "child", not necessarily his "daughter". Expert basketball and baseball were required, and when he selected a gift for me it was a book or a board game or something "human" but not "girlie" or "boyish". I wasn't the kind of hellcat you're describing of you and your brothers. But I'd almost make a claim that I was gender neutral.

    @ GJ ~ Nice to see you here! I have a couple of things going on with memories. First, I do have a steel trap memory compartment in my head. I was able to tell Kass my street address from 1958 and if you'd like the loan number from Ex's and my first mortgage (1977), I can provide it. But what I REALLY remember is how things FELT. I'm all about feelings, so I have the sensory memory leading, and the concrete details fall in behind. Being a "feeler" is both good and bad. One could possibly bleed to death remembering and feeling the same event over and over again.

    I like your use of the word "fragile". For I am that. All crumbling parchment or finely cracked, delicate porcelain overlaying rusty cast iron. Eggshell surrounding stainless steel. But I wonder why my stories make you feel fragile. Do you feel the impending doom or sense the crash to come? That's how it was for me at the time I'm writing about. Floating through the days on the surface, waiting for the maw to open up and roar.

    @ Everyone - OK, it's already well known how much the WV games titillate me. Tag, excellent use of muntlar! Kass, I may have used taggie as Tag's childhood nickname. But I like what you did with it, too, and so, I'm IT!

  8. Childhood nickname was Mickey, should have hung on to it.
    My next door neighbor in Ohio was Debbie, She may have been the best athlete in my elementary school. I don't think of girls as just playing house or tea parties with dolls.

    Then Debbie and I turned into teens at the same time, no more Twister. It became indecent.
    wv- forin. Debbie and I couldn't get within forin ches of each other without blushing.

  9. Well, Mickey is OK enough (are you any relation to the Mouse?), but Taggie made me snicker out loud! Debbie sounds like an early conquest in one's mind, Tag. Your use of the word Twister has just set me off, too. Inside joke I'll try to turn into a blog post, as it is among the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.

    Well done - "forin". I'd have lamed out and used it in place of "foreign". Your usage is much more creative. Tip of the hat!

  10. Limes - (copy of reply to your comment left on my blog) I sense a lot of frustration in how you describe your non-enlightenment. This whole 'spirituality' (if you read my previous comment to Standing - you know I hate the words)- thing is just a choice we make in how we think. The whole God thing - please, don't tell me ANYONE knows ANYTHING for sure about that one. We make him up and I'm not even going to capitalize him. But there IS a higher (even hate that word) way of thinking about everything. And you're right - that willingness thing is HUGE. Sometimes it takes an earthquake of the worst kind.

  11. @ GJ - THANK you. Coming back to your place again!

  12. The fact that Tiny Tears wet her diaper is interesting. I must have seen hundreds of TV shows made between 1950 and 1970 (you see how I spent my childhood) and bowel movements are never mentioned, yet they sold dolls with them. Go figure.

  13. Kirk, wetting dolls were pretty common. Also, if I'm not mistaken, in the 70s when we were oh-so-natural and organic, I believe there was a doll made that did more serious business in a diaper. I was an adult by then. I didn't own such a doll.

  14. I believe you that that was common in dolls back then, I just find it ironic that it was taboo in just about every other aspect of '5os culture.

    I don't know about the doll that pooped, but I had two sisters, and they had a lot of Barbie dolls over the years, which I prechance to see sans clothes from time to time. It's a good thing they introduced sex ed back in the '70s, or I would have grown up with the entirely wrong idea.

    I preferred board games as a kid to actual toys: Monopoly, Life, Clue, etc.

    You're about 10 years older than me, yet you see yourself more as a child of the '50s than the '60s. I say this because I was born in 1961, started school in 1967, yet I identify more with the 70s than the 60s. I think that's because there really no culture shock going from one to the other going from one to the other. They just sort of blended together, which I believe was not the case with the 50s and 60s. Maybe you can write a future post on what it was like to go from the conservative 50s to the revolutionary 60s (though not literally on January, 31, 1959) Only if you want to, of course. It's your blog.

  15. Looks like I had my own culture shock going from one to the other.

  16. Kirk, I can tell you that Ken dolls bore no resemblance to a real man, either! A woman might have been shocked into a coma had she relied upon Mattel for her sex education.

    Remember, what I'm writing now is late 1958 and I'm only 6. I absolutely came of age in the 60s and it WAS a time. Remember, the Badger and I met 3 days after the MLK assassination, and RFK would be killed in 2 months. I shook his hand at a mass rally the afternoon of the day he was shot. He was in Olvera Street, the original Mexican settlement that became L.A. He spoke about 2 words of Spanish with his Boston accent and the crowd went wild. I was afraid of being crushed. The Badger attended a protest beside the singer Judy Collins and encountered Jimi Hendrix on Sunset Blvd. So you see, there is much to come and I was part of what was going on in our changing world. I have a great leather belt I love to wear with jeans. The man who made it was willing to custom design the belt buckle and I pondered on that awhile. "Limes?" Nah ~ why would I want a belt buckle with my name on it. My buckle says "1968". That's how attached I feel to the 60s.

  17. Right, Limes, and that's what I find so fascinating about the differences between the two decades and the people who experienced those differences.

    Incidentally, when I said you were a child of the 50s, I just meant that was your earliest reference point, not that you preferred them to the 60s, which you obviously didn't.

    I feel like everything after 1980 is a combination of the two. It looks more like the 60s on the outside, but there's still plenty of 50s on the inside.

  18. Here's how schizophrenic it was for me. In my 50s I was having a talk with a man I was involved with. We were talking very seriously about ourselves and what shaped us. I told him, sincerely, I am a mix of Gidget and a hippie chick radical. That is my truth.