Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How My Mother Got Done out of Her Bugs Bunny Suitcase (Theme Thursday: Toy)





I asked my mother to tell this, one of my favorite tales from her childhood, and here's what she recounted:

"My mother had a friend, or it might have been her cousin, who came infrequently over to our house in Brooklyn. She always arrived with her daughter, who was about my age, and we were consigned to the upstairs while the ladies smoked their cigarettes and ate their lunch, cottage cheese on toast with paprika and cucumbers cut into it.

I can't remember exactly when this happened, but the time I'm thinking about, Leann brought with her a cardboard Bugs Bunny suitcase, whose metal clasps didn't quite work. You had to push in the cardboard toward the metal to get the two pieces to fit together. It had an orange plastic handle, it was sort of circular, and it had the most vivid decals of Bugs and Friends. This was the most wonderful cardboard suitcase I had ever seen in my life, despite the fact that one edge of it had separated from the metal piece that held it together. I don't remember if anything was in it. Anyway, I wasn't interested in the contents. I really wanted that suitcase. It was as big as from the tip of my finger to maybe the middle of my forearm. It wasn't very large.

I didn't like Leann. We were very young. After we had played for awhile, I remember I got out all my stuffed toys and we pretended we were going places. Unfortunately she had the suitcase. My furry friends had nothing to put their stuff in. I know I became more and more upset. I offered her a stuffed dog I had, who, when you turned the legs around, his male part could be seen. She didn't want it. Nothing I offered her from my toy closet could convince her to give me that wonderful, wonderful suitcase.

At the end of an hour or so, we heard her mother call to Leann it was time to go home. Those visits never lasted long. At the last minute, I had a thought. I had a gold heart necklace that my mother had given me for my last birthday. I said, 'Leann, if you give me the suitcase I'll give you my necklace.' She stuck it in her pocket, and went downstairs.

I was always required to come downstairs with the visiting child to say goodbye politely at the door. My mother knew every single toy I owned, mostly stuffed animals and crayons. Immediately at the front door, she saw the precious Bugs Bunny. My mother sussed out the situation and admonished me, 'you never trade gold for cardboard.' In a moment, Leann, her mother, and Bugs Bunny were out the door; the necklace was back with me.

I never even attempted to travel again."

44 comments:

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

Dang, girl, gold for Bugs Bunny. I don't know what to say :)

savannah said...

great story! memories.....what sweetness. xoxo

The Idle Devil said...

I loved the story...memories of childhood - playing with friends - came rushing back.

Anonymous said...

I can hear your mom's intonations exactly! Clearly the source of at least one vein of your humor... Seriously, did you use a recording devise? XO Allison

Jimmy Bastard said...

It's reassuring to see that your mammy's wisdom has not skipped a generation.

Precious memories indeed.

Suzanne said...

I would have grabbed Bugs Bunny!!! I know you would too!!!!!! Damn!

Dakota Bear said...

Wonder story of your childhood memories.

just bob said...

What would you give me for a Bart Simpson lunch box?

Cinnamon said...

It is surley true that a favourite toy is worth more than gold.
What a shame your mother did not travel again!

R.L. Bourges said...

so vivid - the disconnect between the lesson the mother thinks she's teaching and the message she's imparting to the child. Two worlds.

Thanks for sharing (and for visiting Graulhet.)

willow said...

Cute story! I remember orchestrating a bicycle trade with my friend and I actually got to keep her bike for the summer. It was glorious!

Candie Bracci said...

Great story.
And I would have grabbed the bunny too!

Karen ^..^ said...

Your mom sounds like a really cute kid. It is amazing what we will do for something we fixate on, and have to have at the exclusion of everything else, isn't it?

No trading gold for cardboard. Your grandmother was a very wise woman.

JGH said...

This post made me smile. But a little sad too that you didn't end up with Bugs!

Brian Miller said...

Gold for cardboard...funny what is valuable to a child and how those values change. nice story. thanks for sharing.

Leah said...

NSCG--I know, I know, and I think my mom still regrets not being able to make that trade, God bless her heart!!!


Savannah--I loved hearing my mom's story too. I'm thinking of interviewing her some more.


Idle Devil--I felt the same way when I heard the story, it brought me back to forgotten things and treasured objects that are in retrospect hard to explain!


Allison!--I actually interviewed her and typed exactly what she said. It was really fun. I can't recommend it enough. Especially because I find myself retelling her stories without remembering them exactly right, you know what I mean?


Jimmy, yup, three generations of wise women, but wise in sort of different ways...


Suzanne--I know! You totally would have gone for the suitcase, wouldn't you have!!!! See, you and my mom both see beauty in unusual places!


Dakota Bear--hi and welcome to my little neck of the woods!


Just Bob--well, I would give you five bucks, but my mom might be persuaded to part with a ruby or two!


Cinnamon--aha! you found the truth behind the joke--you're right, my mom doesn't like to travel. Can we trace it back to this suitcase disappointment? Hmm...


R.L. Bourges--welcome! You're right, my grandma never knew how desperately my mother wanted that suitcase...the lesson was lost on my mom, I think...

Leah said...

willow--I don't think I was ever able to pull off a good trade as a child! I just didn't have the sang froid necessary!


candie--aha! great minds think alike!!


Karen--I agree. There's some sort of a profound life lesson in there!!! And now that I've heard the whole story, I shall remember always to follow Grandma's advice!!! No Gold for Cardboard, that's my new motto!


JGH--Hi and welcome! Well, it was actually my mom who didn't end up with the suitcase, but you're right, it is a little sad, isn't it? You can almost feel the disappointment. Crummy old gold necklace!!!!


Brian--thanks for visiting! It is funny, what can seem so enormously valuable to a child, isn't it?

Brandy Rose said...

Thats awesome!

Mrsupole said...

Such a wonderful story. It is amazing how certain things stay with us forever. I wonder if there are any Bugs Bunny Suitcases still out there. That would be a wonderful gift. Some things are worth their weight in gold. And this box was one of them.

We got to trade very few things when we were kids, and when found out, we had to give it back. A few times the other kid would not and so we got in trouble. We soon learned. So we learned to trade things with each other. Probably why I still barter to this day.

Loved the story.

Megan said...

What a good idea, to do an interview! I wish I'd thought of that for my post. Great!

But what I want to know is, is the necklace still around?

Roy said...

Heh, heh! I can definitely sympathize with your mother. I used to collect coins when I was a kid, and the centerpiece of the collection was an 1882 silver dollar. But one day I made a swap with a kid who was sure he was cheating me. His father was some sort of scientist who traveled all over the place, and this kid had a whole bag full of coins from everywhere - India, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Germany, France... I traded him the silver dollar for most of that bag. My mother was furious when she found out about it; the silver dollar wasn't worth serious money, but it might have been worth maybe $10, and she was angry that I'd traded it for what she considered a bag full of useless trinkets. But to me they were a window on the world, exotic, alien, and absolutely intriguing. To this day I don't think I was cheated; I got exactly what I wanted for that silver dollar.

VE said...

Trading gold for cardboard...

Now isn't that interesting given the economy today...

runmotman said...

Good good story...funny how our perspectives change as we age, then age some more.

Kris said...

I don't blame her.

Ronda Laveen said...

Ehhh, some people know what's important!.

Signed, B. Bunny

Suzanne said...

Baby, can you do me a favor? Go to my blog and tell me if you see any posts! They're all gone. My photos and sidebar still appear, but nothing else. WTF?! If you can see them I have hope. If you can't I have none. ;) Apparently someone else wants my blog to end too!!! Leave the answer here obviously. Thanks.

Your response to my comment cracks me up. Your mother should have grabbed that sucker and run for the hills! What a fun comment page. Lots of terrific bloggers. Okay honey, gotta go to the market, so we'll chat soon. Please give me good news. Hope you're having a great day.

XO

Leah said...

Suzy--I was lurking around my blog, so I saw your comment right away and ran over to your place. Where the f!@#k are your posts? I don't see them either, just black and your sidebar. Oh dear. Okay. Stay calm and don't panic. Did you log in and look at your dashboard and your "edit posts"? Do that first and then tell me what the hell happened!!!

Squirrel said...

Wonderful look at
one frenzied afternoon of obsession. Good thing your mom was with you.

just bob said...

Something weird is going on Blottie. I can't see your posts on your main page, but if I put in the url address of a particular page it does display.

Good news... your posts haven't been lost.

Bad news... I can't tell you why they are being displayed.

Sounds like you need to contact Blogger support.

Squirrel said...

Looking at VE 's comment-- I might trade gold for an extra large tarpaulin.

Leah said...

Brandy Rose--hi sugar!

Mrsupole--that is a great idea for a gift for my mom! I wonder whether I'd be able to find one...I'm going to poke around and check--

Megan--I'm really really into interviewing people--and I used to get paid for it, when I worked with a research center! Awesome! Now just for fun.

Roy--I showed my mom your comment, and she loved it. She agrees: you didn't get cheated!

VE--hmmm....you're so right...

runmotman--true. So true. Thanks for stopping by!

Kris--eh, you're right. In a way, isn't the suitcase somehow so much more appealing than the gold necklace?

Ronda--aka B. Bunny--hee hee!

Squirrel--"one frenzied afternoon of obsession"--you are so funny! And haven't we all had one of those? But it was my mom who was lucky my grandma was around--I can't lay claim to this tale as my own memory-- ; )

Baino said...

Haha . . marvellous! Gold for Carboard! You sure must have been a fan. Then goes to show, kids place a value on completely different stuff to adults. This theme has been so diverse! Much fun

subtorp77 said...

Agreeing with Baino on this one. Such diversity one wouldn't think, considering the topic given :)

Cece said...

I just proves that even at such a young age, you didn't put much stock in gold.

Cece said...

Suze, the Blogging Gods are frowning on you? Do you want me to kick their asses?

Cece said...

He Leah,
I could kick the ass of the neighbor kid or cousin( which ever she may be) too and steal the bugs bunny suitcase if you want.

Cuppa Jo said...

...
...that is so sad.
You know, you could probably make one yourself nowadays.

Suzanne said...

I'm screwed, but Cece just told me so was Megan and she got her's back. I'm hopeful.

Cece just had me run a test. It worked. My blog appeared just by writing a new post. Think it'll stay???!!! Who knows!

I'll tell you a funny story. I don't have many viewer because I don't link much any more and I don't do that picture thinkie to the left. When you laze off you don't get much action! I've had 12 fans for so long and have appreciated every single one until I logged on today and realized #12 made an exit and left me with 11. Megan has like 75 or some rediculous number, I now have 11. Cece and I were discussing this major turn of events and she said "You're lucky, I only have 6." We couldn't stop laughing. We wish we had more, but we just don't have time for everything.

I can't remember who #12 is. But I think he or she took my blog with him/her. Give it back you rascal you!!! Oh, and HOW DARE YOU!!! But honestly, I started that list and only had Bob and Cece on it for a few months. I deleted because I didn't have time to add everyone else and certainly didn't want to insult the rest of my friends. Now you know.

XO

P.S. Thanks honey. Love you very much. ;)

Suzanne said...

Yes, yes, yes. I do know how to spell ridiculous. Just not in the previous comment. Leave me alone.

;)

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Great story. So glad you had your mom tell you this tale to share with us. And I love the term "got done out of" it reminds me of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady when she was at the horse races and spoke about someone "got done in". Lovely post.
Cheryl

Kurt said...

"Never trade gold for cardboard" are words to live by.

kylie said...

i really like this story! gold for cardboard, indeed!

i emailed a link to your last post to a friend of mine. his comment could mean a few things "the urge to write eventually compels us to truth"
i dont suppose it needs more comment than that, your own truth will interpret it :)

have a lovely weekend
k

Oliag said...

A wonderful story - it is amazing what a theme like "toys" can bring up in ones memory...your story reminded me of NPR's Storycorp program...I wish I had recorded all my mother's stories.

Practically Joe said...

... cottage cheese on toast with paprika and cucumbers cut into it.
Along with the taste of cigarettes ... it all sounds yummy.