Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


TGIF, dear readers!

Time for another Fun Friday writing exercise. If you haven’t participated yet, today is your day, because this topic should resonate with everyone.

What was your favorite toy as a child? What made it your favorite toy? Does it have any connection to who you are–or what you love–today? Where did it come from? Do you still have it?

My favorite toy was a wooden dollhouse. Mom made it from a kit, painstakingly punching out the pieces, sanding them, painting them, and gluing them together. All the furniture in the house was made from wooden kits. Mom had a heck of a time hiding this gift from me that Christmas–she must have worked long into the night after I went to bed.

It’s unusual that I loved the dollhouse so much, because I wasn’t a girly-girl. Far from it. I was always making mud pies and playing a game called “Stinkbomb” with the boys (it basically involved taking something rotten from the garden and throwing it at each other while yelling “Stinkbomb!” at the top of our lungs). I hated dolls. Someone once made the mistake of getting me a Holly Hobby doll, and let’s just say that poor thing suffered.

I was charmed by the sight of a world in miniature, but I think it was the toy’s capacity for imaginative play that lured me in. My little doll family loved, laughed, and fought in that house–sometimes I’d get  carried away by the story I was acting out. I’d yell so loudly Mom would run to find out what was wrong.

That little house inspired plenty of envy among my girlfriends. One friend begged for her own dollhouse, and we then debated the merits of wood versus plastic. It’s laughable now, but it was all too important then. I was scared to let other kids play with my dollhouse, because I was terrified of it breaking. Later on, Mom bought me much fancier, factory-made furniture that was stained to look like the real thing, but as I grew up I realized how much love and work went into the original tiny toilets and beds. I’m not sure what happened to the old dollhouse, but I do have most of the second set of furniture (although much of it is in disrepair).

I’m still captivated by miniatures, and hope to have a dollhouse again one day. I have a shoebox full of miniature food, china, and household items, just waiting for a place of its own. To me, a dollhouse is all about stories, because it encouraged me to start telling them.

Your turn! What was your favorite toy?

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  1. Lisa

    Like you Holly, I too had a dollhouse. I have a b/w picture of me with the dollhouse beside our Christmas tree – it must have been when I was just 6 or 7 years old. The dolls however are all hanging out the windows the house :-0. Not sure what I was up to back then… But I don’t remember playing with it a whole lot as I was outside in the dirt and the mud with my brother…;)

    More than that though I remember my stuffed animals as being my favourites. My brother and I each had one and we would tote them around everywhere. The history of mine was that my father bought it for me when he dropped my mom off at the hospital to give birth to me (dads weren’t allowed to stick around back then and even if they had been I still think my father would have just dropped her off)…Anyway, Fluffy was his name, and I loved him to the point where my mother had to sew eyes and a nose on because the plastic ones had fallen off somewhere. I remember his little black thread eyes and pink (faded red) thread nose. He was worn right down to the fabric and in his last days had no fur of which to speak. I think he was probably a lot like this:

    “Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.” From “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams

    I lost him, and all my other childhood toys in 1989 when our house burned down. If I could have saved one toy of them all it would have been Fluffy.

  2. Story Teller

    That is such a beautiful story, Lisa, and so sad. I’m really sorry to hear about your home. That must have been heartbreaking. I also loved my stuffed animals – you might remember my childhood buddy, Fuzzy Ferocious, from another Fun Friday post. Thanks for your contribution. You’ve convinced me to keep these exercises going for at least another week!

  3. Lisa

    I really enjoy your Fun Fridays – I find them to be great writing exercises…(and Lord knows I need to write waaaaaaaaaay more than I’m currently doing) So this gives me a perfect excuse to sit down over my lunch hour…

    Yes, when you wrote about Fuzzy Ferocious I immediately thought of Fluffy…

  4. Stephen L. Brayton

    I had a blue and white stuffed bunny. I had received as a baby and somewhere along the line, one ear got torn off. I don’t know if mom ever washed it, so the blue faded and the white turned gray. I think it went where a lot of the rest of the toys did when I got older and moved away from stuffed bunnies to playboy bunnies (lol). Either it was donated or most likely I had literally loved the stuffing otu of it.
    Wow, I haven’t thought of that bunny in years. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Story Teller

    Thanks, Lisa. It’s so hard to know what people like and what they don’t. I can’t even get people to vote in the poll! 🙂

  6. Story Teller

    Aww…thanks for participating, Stephen! I love the story of your blue and white bunny. Welcome to the blog, and I hope to see you back next Friday (or any day you’d like to chime in).

  7. Anonymous

    Hi Story Teller,

    I just wanted to send you note to say that I bet there are many people who read your blog daily and rarely or never comment (like someone you know), including on your Fun Fridays. Personally, your ideas make me think about what I would write about, even if I don’t post my stories and I’m sure you have other readers that do the same!
    It’s the same with facebook. I’m always surprised how many people have read my updates but never comment unless I happen to talk to them in person.
    Keep up the great work and have a Happy Thanksgiving weekend 🙂

  8. kungfusinger

    My favorite toy was a baby doll named sarah. Sarah had a dark blonde/light brown afro and eyes that opened and closed. Her hands, feet and head were plastic while the rest of her body was stuffed cloth. I had the only baby doll on the block with an afro. I remember her face in perfect detail.

    How did my baby doll get an afro, you ask? well it may be because it was the late ’70’s… but no. When I got her for christmas, she has waist length long flowing smooth hair.

    I loved Sarah. I carried her with me everywhere. If I was playing on the slide, I made sure Sarah got a turn going down the slide before me. She stomped in mudpuddles with me. She helped me build sand castles.

    One day, my Mom looked at Sarah and noticed how very grimy she was getting to be. “I have to wash that doll,” She thought. “Theresa would like to have her doll nice and clean.”

    So that night, after I was asleep, Mom pried Sarah from my sleeping arms and threw her in with a load of laundry. When she came out again, her body was nearly white cloth again. It was a far cry from the dark gray-brown colour she had been. Mom looked Sarah over once or twice, decided she was clean enough and tossed her into the dryer with the rest of the laundry.

    The dryer we had had two settings: Tumble, and Bake. The heat was either on or off. For this load, the heat was on. Sarah emerged from the dryer without all of her glorious long hair. Instead she had a thightly curled, matted mass of hair that stuck out from her head for 3/4″ in all directions. Sarah had her afro. Mom was devastated. as far as she was concerned, she had ruined my favorite doll.

    The funny thing is: I was only 1 1/2 years old when I received Sarah, and I was just over 2 years old. I don’t even remember her glorious long hair. I loved that doll afro and all.

    Did I learn a lesson from Mom’s “mistake”? maybe. I think in the same situation, I would do exactly the same thing she did. I would probably feel just as bad, but I would have one thing my mom did not have: I would know that a little thing like melted hair is nowhere near enough to break the bond of unconditional love between a small child and her favorite toy.

  9. kungfusinger

    P.S. My husband says that since my blog responses tend to be so long, I should start my own blog and just use it as an outlet to comment on the topics in yours. What do you think?

  10. Story Teller

    @ Anonymous – thanks for the thought. You probably think I know who you are, but really you could be any of my closest friends. With few exceptions, my most active audience is not those who are closest to me in “real life”. I’m not sure if my closest friends read it – I know my mother doesn’t. 😀 Maybe it’s the same with all bloggers. Having a site meter that tells me that thousands of people read this blog has kept me going. If I had to go by the number of comments–especially in the beginning–I would have given up. Readers are wonderful, but commentors are precious. In a perfect world, I would love for this to be a dialogue instead of a monologue, but I’m willing to be patient (most of the time).

    @ kungfusinger – great story! You certainly can paint an evocative picture with words. Your mom is lucky you took Sarah’s makeover so well. And tell your husband that there are too many blogs in the world, but not enough commentors. I enjoy your comments, and they’re never too long. Stay right where you are, please. 🙂

  11. Wooden Doll Houses

    I gotta go with the good old Troll Dolls. Simple yet very complicated hair. Like you, I was not a girly-girl, and trolls for me were like Barbies were for my sisters.

    I’d spend hours and hours making them houses out of old shoeboxes (including their cardboard furniture). Then there were the clothes I managed to cover them all in. Take a little piece of felt, cut out a hole for their head, and wrap anything around the waist to close it all in.

    The only wooden doll house we had in the house belonged to my older sister, and she was very very stingy with her things. Hmmm…sounds a little like your fear of sharing your dollhouse with your friends?? My sister was also the proud recipient of “Patty Playpal”, whose head fell off Christmas morning so she got paid back for not sharing. Ha!

    What a fun fun story you’ve shared with us. Brought back a few memories that I haven’t thought of in quite a while. My parents are both gone now, so it’s nice to be reminded of those happy times. Lots of fights back then but lots of laughs about it all now.

  12. Story Teller

    Welcome to my blog, Wooden Doll Houses, and thanks for sharing your story! I remember those troll dolls well. As for the toys, I had no problem sharing the plastic ones, but on some level I understood the wooden house was more fragile, so I was very careful about who I let play with it. Can’t speak for your sister. 🙂


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