I Never Met a Stuffed Animal I Didn't Like


DOLLS. That's what little girls who grew up in the 1960s were supposed to play with, dolls.

I despised dolls. Completely and utterly boring. Rocking, feeding, rolling around in what the Brits called a pram. Pretending to change diapers. Ugh.

There was one doll I liked. Her name was Penny Brite and she was about the size of a Barbie. (I was always glad my parents couldn't afford Barbie. Dressing up a doll, fixing its hair, pretending to go shopping for more clothes with it. Ugh. That was even worse than burping one.)

With very bad skills (sewing was almost as bad as changing a diaper), I made a pair of pants and a shirt for Penny and put her dress away. She was posable and now I could do something really cool with her: let her ride my Breyer horse! Instead of messing with boring clothes we could ride the range like Joey and Fury and have endless adventures.

But my heart belonged to my stuffed animals. My earliest beloved toy was a stuffed bunny that I took everywhere with me. Here we are sitting on my lovely bookcase headboard bed. I think I'm about two in this photo.

me, age 2, with stuffed bunny

(My mom still had that bedspread till the day she died. The wallpaper was in shades of pink. And of course you can tell we were Catholic! LOL.)

Alas, my bunny came to a bad end. I used to play with a neighbor's little grandson, who loved to cuddle my stuffed rabbit, and one day we found out he was moving to California. Mom and I went to say goodbye to him and I accidentally left my bunny in my doll carriage in Florence's back yard. When I went back to get it, it was gone. He didn't leave it at Florence's house, so I assume it went to California with him.

Stuffed poodles were big back then, so I had quite a few of them. One was named "Little Lassie" after my favorite television star, until Get Smart came on. Then she :-) was renamed "Fang" because it really did look more like Fang than Lassie. A pink poodle was named Pepe and a grey one, with a wonderful plastic face, was named Fifi. She was my confidant for years.

A unique stuffed pet was something called "a television dog." These were big stuffed animals that were made so children could sit on them on the floor to watch TV in the wintertime and not get chilled from a cold floor. He was Scotch-cooler plaid with big floppy black ears.

Disaster struck when I was seven years old. I had the sniffles all the time and my pediatrician suggested I go to an allergist. It wasn't bad enough that I turned out to be allergic to dogs, when my parents had said I could have a dog when I turned ten. No, I was also allergic to dust and all those stuffed animals.

I got to keep one and the rest were banished to the attic.

But things didn't stay fuzzless long.

Here's the skinny on the love affair with stuffed critters.