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Memory of a Miracle

Finding Baby Giggles in a Thrift Shop

By Judey Kalchik Published 3 years ago 4 min read
Memory of a Miracle
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I turned the corner in the thrift store and came face to face with the memory of a miracle. Baby Giggles. THE Baby Giggles from Ideal. Not the redone version with the mod outfit, straight hair, and hard plastic legs. The original one, with chubby baby arms and legs.

Baby Giggles, my Memory of a Miracle

I tucked her in the crook of my arm and cupped her sandaled feet (the ORIGINAL dress and sandals, I noticed almost giddily) in my palm as I hurried to make my purchase. Buckled into the front seat I took her home and as I drove the miracles of the year I turned nine flooded through my mind. It was the year I received not one, but TWO dolls for my birthday. This was momentous. Unheard of. Incredible. We did not receive two toys for holidays. Didn't happen. In fact, once I hit school age, I mostly got clothes. (People born in August, I feel your pain.)

But 1969 was different. We were living in Ohio, briefly. My father had a new job and there were now almost four children in the home. My second brother would be born less than two months after my birthday. We bought a new house and were renting out our family home in Pennsylvania.

In Ohio I walked to an 'open classroom' school with self-paced learning. I remember much doubtful murmuring from relatives about this educational system. I LOVED it. We could talk whatever classes we wanted. I know I took astronomy, Spanish, and some type of art class that involved string. We had group classes and study halls. As a fourth grader I was able to swim through classes with bigger kids. I collected completed workbooks with the same fervor I see on Pokémon-hunters.

During the year in Mentor-on-the-Lake Ohio my youngest brother was born, I got lost in a snowstorm, wandered away one afternoon and joined a catholic choir (we did a rousing Easter cantata), and explored a perfectly flat terrain for Halloween, gathering candy as if we were preparing for the Exodus. There were croaking frogs under our house. A very good year.

But my birthday. That is one of my most remarkable memories of that time. Two large packages with sharp corners each revealed a dolls. I don't know the name of one but she was advanced. She walked. WALKED.

Now, people, we hadn't even dreamed of Teddy Ruxpin back then. There were no Furbys.

The most technologically advanced thing I'd seen before this was a Barbie that had switchable heads (alas, switch them too often and the necks got saggy and her heads would fall off. I can relate to that, now. It sucks to get old), and the baby doll that ate and wet/pooped. This was basically mold in a foam figure around a gullet. Horrifying.

I do remember the walking doll. OK, lurching doll. With straight non-flexing legs. Legs that kept flailing as she fell over. Which she did all the time because: younger sisters. It was neat-o but not the kind of doll that you cuddled. I remembered her because her existence was memorable, but I would never have purchased her at a thrift store.

But the other doll. Baby Giggles.

Soft curly blond hair. Lift her left arm and her head tilted in the most engaging way. She rolled her eyes to the side and giggled. Rounded limbs like a real baby. Her skin was softer plastic. (Not creepy-soft. Just yielding.)

I had Baby Giggles for a long time. She actually acted in Fiddler on the Roof, my Senior Class play. During one of the scenes I wrapped her in a shawl and carried her across the stage, leaving Anatevka for a more hospitable location. During dress rehearsals I jostled her a little to make her giggle. She was appropriately solemn for the matinee and evening performances.

It broke my heart when one of the crew drew a mustache on her little face. No matter how hard I scrubbed it just faded to a pale blue line but wouldn't come off. I tried to shrug it off but I cried at home as I placed her on my bed. She was marked, but she was mine.

Although not for long.

Like much of my belongings I lost her in a house fire the year after I graduated high school. (All of our family were fine.) My room was in the attic, and, well... heat rises is what I've always heard. Fire does, too. The miracle’s memory was cleared out with the other 80% of our family’s possessions.

The original was lost; in a way this is the memory of a memory of a miracle. Do I still need her? Does it make sense that I bought someone else's doll to replace one I received 51 years ago? I have no fond memories shared with this particular plastic baby. I've told her no secrets. Walked across no stage with her. I've never plunked her on my pillows after making the bed. Never hid her from my sisters. Never scrubbed at a mustache on her face.

I need to decide if I catch and release this doll. Has she served her purpose to remind me of a time when my wildest dreams were exceeded? TWO birthday gifts. TWO dolls. I never saw the like before, never saw it again.

I look at her and think of that nine year old girl. Think about a time when that wasn't too old for dolls. Think about that small house and my step mother seven months pregnant and away from her extended family. Think of a time when two new toys made me sure we were rich. Made me happy.

Well. There is no rush to donate her back to the store. I think she needs to stay with me a little longer. I need the reminder of miracles just a little while longer.

____________________________________________________

If you enjoyed this story, please click on the heart below so I’ll know that it clicked with you. May your life be filled with miracles and their memory.

To read more of my writings click here.

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About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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    Judey Kalchik Written by Judey Kalchik

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