Saturday, March 19, 2011

Puff The Magic Dragon

Lived by the sea,
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff.

I had a lot of toys when I was growing up. One of the first I remember was a sock doll named Jack. My mamaw made him for me. He was made like a sock monkey except he didn’t have the monkey snout or a tail. But Jack was special. She made his head by tying a string tightly around the top part of the sock, stuffing it and gathering the cuff to make his head. He had a little tuft of sock cuff at the top, I guess his hair. She embroidered eyes and a mouth on him. He had blue eyes and a red mouth.

I carried Jack with me wherever I went. I loved his head off! Since he was getting pretty ragged, she made another doll. His name was Johnny and he had green eyes. I don’t know if they thought I wouldn’t know the difference or what, but I knew it wasn’t the same. I’d leave Johnny and look for Jack whenever they tried to trade them on me. Jack’s head was safety pinned shut and most of the stuffing was gone, but I still carried him around. Johnny never even had his head loved off! I’m sure I still have him somewhere, with the near perfect Johnny, in a box.

As I got older I found other toys and entertainment. My family lived on a corner where the street made a T. That gave us a long stretch of sidewalk to play on. I had skates. These weren’t the kind of skates that attached to a shoe. You had to put your own foot and shoe in and tighten the skate with a skate key. I wore the skate key on a string around my neck because if it was lost the skates didn’t work. My good friends and I would skate up and down that sidewalk for hours.
Skate key used to tighten skates.
My sister and I also had a wagon. It was really fun if you could get someone to push you. Steering was done with the wagon tongue. If you were going too fast it was easy to miss the corner and fly into the street. That happened more than once!

I never had a Barbie. I never even wanted one. I had troll dolls instead. I had a whole family, a single mother family. Goldie Gotrocks was the matriarch. She had a daughter named Lola and and a baby named Moonye. She was a regular size troll doll and Lola was one that would fit on a pencil top. Moonye was a tiny plastic doll, probably from a gum machine. They had an aunt named Starlynn. I played for hours with these dolls. My sister and I and the girls across the street, Jana and Judy, would make clothes, create elaborate soap opera type stories and build little houses, most of the time in the squares of the very same sidewalk where we skated. Judy and Jana had a troll doll house. It was plastic and folded and latched, like a little suitcase. I thought it was the best thing ever. It really enhanced the value of their property. But, since Goldie was a hard working single mother all she could afford was the makeshift house on the sidewalk square!
This isn't Goldie. She's in my hope chest in storage. But it's kind of how she looked but shorter.
Probably the best thing I had when I played, was my imagination. That’s what made Goldie Gotrocks and family. That’s when we weren’t skating up and down a sidewalk but racing in a roller derby or setting a new world record. That’s how I talked to Jack when I needed to. I see the littles using their imaginations all the time and it makes me happy. Evan plays super heroes and knows all of the trendy new toys because of his age. He likes video games but they haven’t captured his attention entirely. He can play outside, on the slide tower they have, for hours. Caleb is a dinosaur and can tell you anything (and more) than you ever wanted to know. He set up a Natural History Museum dinosaur exhibit with all of his plastic toys. Belle talks to her babies and has some quite good conversations. She and Caleb love to bring fast food orders out to you. At any time one or all three may have a cape of some sort attached to their backs or maybe a hat or scarf or some such costume.

I’m not sure at what age you stop playing with toys. It varies I’m sure. One of my boys still secretly (or not so secretly) plays with his little cars! Some people never really stop but they don’t play like they did when they were little. People tend to substitute big kid toys for the toys they played with as kids. They cost more but the purpose is the same. What stops, in some cases entirely, is the imagination. Kids are allowed to do things that adults would never do because of social rules and norms. If you see an adult with a cape pinned to his back running around with a plastic dinosaur in hand what would you think? Seeing a child doing just that brings a smile to even the dourest personalities.

Is seems that adults have to work a lot harder at sparking imagination. Often, it’s not anyone’s fault. Daily routines, responsibilities and even habits can frequently cause the imagination to deteriorate. That’s why there are so many ‘bored’ adults around. Try hanging out with or even watching little kids play. You’ll not be able to keep out the power of their dreams. You might even find your dragon.
Lego Dragon at Disney World. Puff?

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys.
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more.
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

Day 350, March 16, and we’re in Orlando. No bus problems today, yet, so we get to look around. We caught the shuttle for Downtown Disney and head out to look around. We found a good place to eat, Captain Jack’s, then shopped around for souvenirs for the littles.
It was humid which made us hot because we’re dessert rats! I checked email and got a message from a blog friend in Ireland, Sinéad, and she said be sure and stop by Raglan Road Pub. I looked around and we were right there. I told Alan it must be an omen so we stopped. It was a nice break.
Wednesday night took us to Epcot. It took a while to get the shuttle so we hurried to the restaurant. We got there to be told we had to have reservations. Thanks for the notice. Anyway, we hurried to another restaurant, on the other side, and were told, and not very nicely, they were closed. It was 9:02 and they closed at 9:00. I realize they’ve worked all day but jeez, she could have been polite. By this time it was late so we headed towards the bus again while the fireworks show started. We didn’t stop to watch but stole glances as we hurried towards the bus. Thank goodness we beat the crowd. We ended up eating in the dining hall at the resort. It all turned out well but we were tired yet again…or still. I chose a red variegated sock yarn.
Day 351, is March 17, and St. Patrick’s day. I had green. We went back to Downtown Disney, ate and did some last minute shopping. Then it was time to get the bus so we went back. Alan and Hector went for the bus and I sat out by the pool in the shade with a couple of the other drivers and listened to them talk while I knitted. It was a relaxing time before the trip back. I’m not sure why but we were scheduled to leave at 8:30 pm. Everyone was exhausted after being on the go all day. And grouchy. I was glad to be in the suburban! I took the first shift driving and we were on the way. I chose a green variegated cotton I was using for some St. Paddy day knitting.
My new shirt
St. Paddy Day knitting
Day 352, March 18, and we are still driving. It’s such a long way. We finally made it to Texas at 11:45 am.
First rest area in Texas
There’s probably at the least 12 more hours to drive. I chose a variegated worsted with pink, green, purple and orange in it. Day 353, March 19, and we’re home. I’m glad to be out of the car. My ankles were starting to swell! Well, one anyway. It was midnight or a little after when we finally got in. Just went straight to bed then sat around and rested all day long. We had steak for supper and started gearing up for the coming week. I chose a pink variegated tape yarn. It was a good trip and I’m glad that the kids get to go. It’s the only time some will have the chance. I hope they remember forever and keep their imaginations. I’m afraid for some it’s already too late.
Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail.
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name. 
Oh Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea...


  1. I love that even your toys had a "y" in their names!

    And I've always wondered about that song... "I've got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new key..." Now I know!

  2. You are so young! Yes, the skate key had to tighten the little brackets that were at the front where your shoe went. I'm not sure that's what it means in that song but that is what the key is for!

  3. Love the blog! Love the story! Love the knitting! should quit your day job!

  4. oh the puff song pops into my head every now and then, love it...I love your st. paddy's day knitting...soooo pretty! you know it's funny, when I heard you were in Florida I didn't try to figure out "where" you were in nephew was right there at disney at the ballfield for spring training with the Atlanta Braves could have given him a smooch for me! Sounds like you had a great time! I love the thought of all of us running around with I'm heading out with mine...catch a look see :)

  5. oh, forgot to comment about the trolls...I had barbie's and trolls...loved them both...still do...I need a troll!

  6. Oh I'm so jealous! It sounds like you had a great trip. I can't wait till I go back in October! Glad you stopped by Raglan Road, everything in that pub was built in Ireland and shipped over. I always stop in for a pint when I'm there. And I totally agree about why do adults forget how to play. I think that's why I love Disney so much, it brings out the kid in me again. Oh, and the grumpy shirt? Hubby has the same one!

  7. @bev...You are too nice! I wouldn't mind doing that...but I'd starve! ha ha

  8. have imagination so you haven't ever lost your dragon! I'm glad to hear you got troll dolls! I did actually get a Scooter doll which was Skipper's friend or something. And a Ken, which I thought was weird but whatever! I didn't play with them much ever. But my trolls... :)

  9. @Sinéad...we went in to see if they had a crest for Swinford. There's an island called that in Ireland, right? So we thought we were probably (my husband anyway) was Irish.