Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Teddy on the turnpike

This past weekend, my husband and I made an unplanned trip to western Pennsylvania. A work colleague of my husband’s had died suddenly, and my husband wanted to be present at the viewing and attend the funeral.

So we drove west on Sunday, stayed overnight then returned home on Monday. During the portion of the trip that it was my turn to drive, I was merrily flying along that great original superhighway, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Since it is such an old road, most places the four lanes are right side-by-side. To keep traffic safe (and separate), the turnpike is lined with jersey walls—those concrete dividers. I hate them because they give you a claustrophobic feeling when you are in the left lane. Add to that the fact that small animals run to the center of the road and then get trapped—well, you get the picture.

So, as I was driving along, I scanned the roadway, and suddenly saw an abandoned teddy bear*. Who deposited it there? Was it inadvertently dropped out the window by a toddler, who didn’t know that was the last she would see of Teddy? Or did a malicious sibling dangle it out the window, taunting a brother or sister, only to lose the grip on Teddy who fell to the road? Who knows?

But it did remind me of a long ago childhood trauma. Like most children, I had a favorite stuffed toy—really a kind of floppy doll. I carried it everywhere. It is even immortalized in this photo where its stuffing was coming out. I am sure my mother (or one of the wonderful missionary women I called “aunties”) stitched it back together.

I have no recall of any name I might have given this doll. But I do know its fate. I lost it. And I even know where I lost it—on one of the trains in Africa. We were going on a family trip—probably for a vacation. We went several times to South Africa, visiting Cape Town or Durban. And the best means of transportation was by rail. The old-fashioned style trains had separate compartments; our family of (then) four would occupy a compartment with seats facing each other. The seats converted into one upper and one lower bed on each side. In the center was a pull down table and also a small sink. Quite efficient—and great fun as a way to travel.

Well, somehow I lost the doll on just such a train trip. I had it when we boarded the train. And when we left the train, the doll was nowhere to be found. Forever lost. Just like the teddy on the turnpike.

I really wasn’t deeply traumatized, but the fact that I can recall this doll, and know how I lost it, suggests some deep imprinting on my child brain.

Anyone else out there who lost a favorite stuffed animal? Hmmmm?? So, tell.

*the photo of the teddy is from a website--I did NOT grab my camera, stop the car in the left lane of the turnpike and take a photo!


JeanMac said...

I didn't lose a toy but I gave my doll carriage away to a friend when we moved - I was 10 years of age - I still think about the carriage.

Mary said...

The way you held that doll and the look on your face shows a real attachment. I wonder if you latched on to another doll after your loss.

I don't remember being attached to anything in particular but I do remember being attached to plastic, toy clothespins. You can laugh. I carried them everywhere with me in my pockets and remember my Mom giving me some things to hang dry on my toy clothesline. I still have one of them and keep it in my jewelry box. Weird, I know.

Femail doc said...

Thanks for p.s. on picture. I did picture you risking life and limb to give us a visual on this.

My daughter had a teddy bear we bought at 7-11. Oddly, it became her favorite. She didn't take it to college, but requested I mail it to her. Heven only knows where 'Teddy' is now, but he/she never arrived in St. Louis. I fear I put the wrong zip code on it. Daughter did forgive me.

My favorite doll Linda ultimately developed so many rents in her skin, we had to abandon her body. My mother made a taffeta ruff for her head, and I have her still. How bizarre. "I ain't got no body to depend on" sings Linda.

NE/ME said...

I don't have a lost Teddy story, but I do have Loved Bunny story. When I was little a couple who went to my Dad's church gave me a yellow and pink bunny. Bunny became my favorite stuffed animal and I loved him very much. I loved most of his plush off. And, somehow the wires that made his ears stand up disappeared. When my daughter was about three she inherited Bunny. My Dad, her Grampa, died when she was six. At the funeral she used Bunny's limp cloth ears to wipe her tears away. She still has Bunny.

Climenheise said...

I think I remember a story about a bonnie over the ocean -- from the QE tp the ocean off your head? I don't know the story properly, but it's somewhere there in my memory.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I had an Eskimo doll my uncle brought me from Alaska.

When I was in the hospital with polio it was my comfort toy as my mother could only come to see me once a week. It finally disappeared but I still remember it fondly.

RuthieJ said...

Jersey Walls--now I learned those concrete dividers actually have a name! Thanks, Donna.

Cathy said...

Ouch, Donna. That picture of you is so precious. Truly precious.

I have no memory of a missing doll or bear, but . . . there's an ache in my heart for that white kitten . . .

You've touched a chord here.

Ruth said...

My youngest daughter lost a little toy dog she called "Lucky" when she was about four. A young boy found it in the playground and claimed it. I remember giving him $2 to get it back. I believe "Lucky" is still in the closet.

mon@rch said...

and it's not like you can stop and pick it up on the turnpike! Awww, thanks for sharing your memories with us!

Island Rambles Blog said...

Love the photo and the story Donna...like how you always invite your readers to participate or at least to think...I can't remember much but I enjoy your memories. cheers.