Looking over a bucket of water full of suds, I watched as bubbles popped one by one. The familiar smiley face I was used to bobbed gently as I poked at it with my finger. Mom had submerged my sunshine shaped, plush toy in for a soak. I called him “My Buddy.”
This was in the backyard of my old house in Madison, Wisconsin. I must have been two or three I suppose. So it was 1984 or 1985. It was summertime and my mom was home because she was a teacher and had the summers off. I remember having to wait for My Buddy to dry in the sun. It seemed like it took forever!
I loved to put my fingers through the loops to hold onto My Buddy. Sometimes I’d even swing him around for a ride and see how many circles I could do before he flung off.
The Buddy Toss
My sister Sarah and I used to have a game we played called “The Buddy Toss.” This was a perfect time to try this trick. I’d twirl My Buddy round and round on my finger and fling him over to her side of the room. If I was lucky he’d land safely on her twin bed across from my bed, which was by the window. If I aimed poorly he might fall “into the water” on the navy blue carpet that covered our floor. Then one of us would have to avoid the pretend sharks we imagined were swimming between our beds and try to retrieve it.
Sarah’s favorite soft toy was a frog, which she also called her “Buddy.” I’d have to catch her Buddy and she’d have to catch mine. So, we called it “The Buddy Toss.” A fun game we’d play either early in the morning before we’d get out of bed, or at bedtime when we were supposed to be going to sleep.
My Dad has told me stories how he’d yell in to quiet us down to go to sleep, but then put an ear to the door and listen to us giggle. He was well aware of “The Buddy Toss.”
Here’s a close up of the tag, revealing it’s a Fisher Price Toy. Made in East Aurora, New York. I was born in 1982, and I believe this was a baby gift. So, it was probably made early 1980s I’m guessing.
When I lost My Buddy
I remember losing buddy once. It was horrible! We looked everywhere.
This was at my old house, the one I mentioned at the beginning where he’d get cleaned in a bucket outside in our backyard. I lived in that house until I was four. It was small: three bedrooms, one bath, one level with a basement. Mom knew it was time to move when we couldn’t all fit around the kitchen table anymore. There was a living room in the front and another room I believe we called the family room towards the back of the house. It was more of a three season room, poorly converted into a four season room. I remember my Mom and Dad saying it was chilly because it wasn’t insulated right.
I remember the living room having green, wool carpet. Anyway, I’m not sure how My Buddy got back behind the living room couch, but when I found him it was a really big deal. I guess the benefit to having a smaller home is that there weren’t too many places anything could be.
I slept with My Buddy every night. I loved the way he smelled. I loved the way he looked so cheerful and colorful, and I loved his smiley face.
If you pressed his face he even made a squeaking sound!
I’ve mentioned in a previous post why I love the color yellow. Connecting the dots here, the fact that My Buddy’s face is yellow makes understanding why I have a strong connection to it make a lot of sense.
When My Buddy needed to be fixed
So, confession here: The Buddy pictures you’re seeing are of the second Buddy I had. My first Buddy got so worn out my Grandma K. had to fix him. I mentioned in my last post how my Grandma was super skilled at sewing. Well, she had to get really creative when I asked her to help me save Buddy before he fell all the way apart!
She knit a lavender wrap around the body of My Buddy that held him together perfectly. There were only two loops left though that remained, and those happened to be the green ones. He looked like some weird worm-like creature out of an episode of the Muppet Show.
My fixed Buddy was perfect!
I could enjoy my fixed original Buddy still, and have the new Buddy just in case I wanted to see the smiley face I had remembered for so long.
It’s funny what we attach ourselves to as kids. It’s funny how we name them, and treat them, and take them everywhere. I don’t remember when I stopped sleeping with My Buddy or anything like that. I simple came across him in my cedar chest when I was uncovering items I wrote about in my last post that my Grandma K. made. That post was called: Cream of Wheat, with lumps please if you missed it.
When I lifted the lid to my cedar chest and saw My Buddy I just knew it was the nostalgic inspiration for this post. Like finding a lost friend, I can’t believe how I’d almost forgotten about him. If I were to talk to him right now I’d say:
“Sorry Buddy, it’s been a long while. Thanks for showing up! What great memories you’ve stirred up.”
And now that I’ve had my time to reflect on the warm memories and not get too mushy gushy, I think I’ll tuck him back in the cedar chest, cozy, where he’s sure not to get lost again.
Did you have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket as a child? What did you call it? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.