I was given my first Barbie when I was 5 or 6. Forgive me, I’m now 51 so those memories aren’t the sharpest anymore, but I’m sure it was around then. I don’t know that it was an immediate obsession, but I know that she sure became one!
Growing up in the suburbs can sometimes be isolating, but it definitely wasn’t the case for me. We had a true neighborhood, the kind you usually see in movies or TV based around New York or Chicago or something. It was only one block long, but jam-packed full of kids around my age and parents who took turns watching us, pretty much dependent on which yard we were playing in at the time. Those were absolutely idyllic days–tennis in the street (picking a random crack as a net), riding bikes virtually everywhere (within mom’s yelling distance of course), playing house or whatever wherever we were at the moment, and of course Barbies. Several of us girls would often congregate at my parents’ house, or one of their houses, or even on a sidewalk for hours of pure Barbie-doll enjoyment.
The first Barbie was followed my others, some gifts, some were earned with money from various chores and yes, babysitting.
My Dad worked for Sears (remember them?) so my Christmases and Birthdays were filled with gifts straight out of the Sears Wish Book and Toy Department. And the collection grew, and grew. I ended up with the airplane, two pop-up houses (one an earlier version of the soon-to-be-envied Dreamhouse), a very large swimming pool, a bathtub set that made bubbles, fancy dining-room furniture, as well as two sets of pewter table servings.And naturally my grandmothers and mom contributed various handmade items. They were golden days.
But of course, there was that one thing that every Barbie aficionado wanted in those days, and that was the glory which was the Barbie Dreamhouse, towering in the sky fully furnished with an elevator. I drooled at every commercial. I have no memory of it now, but I imagine I was kind of obnoxious about it.
As we all know, the Barbie Dreamhouse isn’t exactly “sturdy.” And its not exactly cheap, either. Never was, even in those “good old days.” I don’t know, and honestly don’t care why my Dad decided to build one instead of buying it. I don’t care because that doesn’t matter. It was the right decision. I loved it. I still love it. Its freaking amazing.
It had it all; it towered over my Barbie-verse. It had an elevator and a balcony, and even a fire place in that top floor there. The front door has a knocker and even a sliced-in-half nightlight that served as a porch light. It didn’t work, but it didn’t matter. There was shag carpeting and wallpaper even in the first floor. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but…well, time happened.
First, the poor thing was stored in my parents attic. At the ripe old age of 12 as I entered Junior High, I decided I was officially too old for Barbies. With religious care, I packed all the clothes, all the furniture, all the decor and all my beloved dolls carefully, and stored it all with the house and all the out buildings in the attic. When they retired and moved about an hour from where I grew up, it was all moved unceremoniously into my storage locker.
When we moved from our apartment into our house, the entire contents of that locker were again unceremoniously moved into our garage. That’s where the worst of the damage occurred. It was actually disgusting. Repulsive, even. And gave me yet another reason to hate ground squirrels. The carpeting had been, well, defiled.
The picture above as well as the one for my front page were taken after I pulled the poor thing out of the garage, pulled out the carpeting, ripped off the wallpaper and gave it a proper bath.
This is the beginning of an adventure. A whole new era of “playing Barbie” and hopefully years more enjoyment of the House that Dad built.
Thanks again, Dad. Love you!