Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Missing Ones

First, I spent hours scouring used bookshops and book sales. Bliss! But time consuming and, sometimes, impossible with four little ones.

Right around the time they were domesticated enough to actually take them to these places without wreaking havoc, the Ebay phenomenon struck.

Now, I spent hours computer monitor.

I was in search of my Missing Books.

As I have said before, I did not have a tremendous number of books in my possession. The few I did have were cherished only by me. They met the sad fate of disposal, along with all of my childhood toys. Gradually, hardly noticed. But one by one, they ended up in the garbage. My mother is not a sentimental woman. I don't think it ever occurred to her I would miss these things.

Eventually, I had only one thing left that I had as a child: a souvenir painted miniature wooden shoe my father brought back from a trip to Holland.

So I did what any sane, well adjusted adult would do. I went onto Ebay, found all my favorite childhood toys and bought them.

Few were more than ten dollars. I found my plastic spinning wheel in it's original box. My pink plastic Showboat with it's drop down sets and movable characters for a range of shows in it's original box. Paper dolls. All my favorite Colorforms, Miss Cookie's Kitchen, the Ballerina, the Weather Girl (the model for which I actually knew in real life) and many more.

But best of all, I found many of my favorite childhood books, the same editions, the same art work that had captivated me years earlier and now carried me back to when I read these treasures again and again. Back to a time when I poured over each illustration, until every detail was memorized. Black Beauty. The Secret Garden. The Doll's House. Blue Willow.

But two have eluded me.

Both were picture books. One was the story of a girl who had polio and could no longer do things like run and play. But one day she started taking ballet lessons. Ballet strengthened her legs and, ta da, she could walk again. Not only that, but she was a great ballerina.

This story fascinated me because of the ballet connection. My father drove me from the Bronx to my aunt's in Yonkers every Saturday morning. For a while, I would sit and watch Saturday morning TV with my beloved cousin Stevie. Then I would go with my other cousins, Stevie's sisters, to ballet class.

I was an abysmal ballerina.

I was short and round and graceless. One little girl in our class, and I do mean little, glided across the studio effortlessly, pirouetting like Margot freaking Fonteyn. When asked to demonstrate the same performance, I wobbled all over the room and eventually crashed into the wall. My teacher's exasperated sighs couldn't make me feel any worse than I already did. All I really wanted was to be back sitting next to Stevie watching Howdy Doody.

I was chosen to be one of the Seven Dwarfs in our recital version of Snow White. Snow White was played by my lovely, willowy cousin Dorothy. I was excited and proud. I would be the smallest dwarf at the end. I was oblivious to the fact that my stage name, Dopey, did not bode well.

The curtain went up, Dorothy did her dance and the dwarves each did their thing, a little pirouette and the announcement of their name. I executed my serpentine pirouette and announced my name was Dopey. To my horror, the audience burst into laughter. I was shattered.

I would endure another two years of this torture before it became clear to everyone that my parents were wasting their time and money.

So a girl who became a success at ballet was fascinating to me. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of it or find any such book in an Internet search.

The other book I cannot find had been a library book. It was about a French porcelain doll named Marie. Naturally, that was riveting to me. A book character with my very own name. What a marvel!

But again, I do not remember the title or the author.

I keep looking. If these sound familiar to you, give me a shout!



ê¿ê said...


I can't help you with the names of your books. The only book I remember where the girl had polio was Heidi and it was Clara who had polio and Heidi helped her learn to walk.

Being the animal lover I am, all my favorite books were about dogs and horses, so Albert Payson Terhune figured prominently in my collection of literature.

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