Comments here and there in the blog world, prompted the question about whether or not I had kept anything from childhood. The answer is no. Both times I left California (age 8 and age 20) for Norway, it never occurred to anyone in the family that it would be for an extended stay and so little was sorted or packed or stored.
The first time, we gave a lot of stuff away, and also had a yard sale. My memory from that time of my life is quite bad, so I don’t know what happened to some things I had, like a stuffed snake I named Oscar, or a toy typewriter (yes, I had one of those). It didn’t matter. It’s not just in death you can’t take it with you; you can’t haul your whole life with you when traveling, either. But one thing did make the trip with me in 1969, clear across America in the back seat of my grandparents’ blue 1964 Mercedes Benz 190D: My Raggedy Ann doll.
I have a vague recollection of my family buying her for me. I believe it was the toy department at Sear’s, and she was one of the last toys I got before leaving California. She has been washed but the stains on her face acquired when she and I were both about 40 years younger will not come out. Her white apron went missing years ago. Her bangs, meant to fall on her forehead, have never cooperated, and therefore have always stuck up on her head.
I have never been a doll person, and I don’t remember reading any Raggedy Ann stories. As a little girl, the only doll I truly enjoyed was Gumby, and second to that odd green figure, came Barbie. But Raggedy Ann (who shares a name with me) has the unique position of being the only doll to make the trip with me from our native USA all the way to Norway, where there is no Raggedy Ann. Grandma and Grandpa held onto her when I moved back to California at age 15, and so she now sits in my living room as part of the decor. Perhaps she isn’t appropriate for an adult woman to display, but Raggedy Ann isn’t a toy; she’s a representative of a very special time in my life.
Next to Raggedy Ann on the photo is another item my grandparents hung onto: One of my earliest craft projects in Norwegian school. Fourth grade, if I remember correctly, and the color scheme is not one I would have chosen on my own. I had picked a few of the colors but didn’t have enough yarn to do a whole pillow. My teacher then brought me some more colors, and I didn’t think they’d look good together, but she arranged them for me. It is one of the few projects I completed in school, and it is also one of the few crafts projects I have always been pleased with. I still like the colors, and I’m still impressed with my teacher’s choices. To this day, I can remember sitting in the classroom in the old schoolhouse on a gloomy, rainy day, yarn spread out before me and the teacher instructing me how to sew the simple pattern. Watching the stripes come to life as I worked delighted me.