Earlier this month on my Sharon Michaels Author Facebook page I posted a writing challenge. I took up the challenge and spent last Friday afternoon jotting down ideas. Writing this story, I found myself mixing fiction with real life memories. I guess I’d call this a fictional-bio short story.
I had to be five or six years old. My mom and I would walk to the drug store, grocery store and dime store at least a couple times a week. I loved our quiet time together. We’d talk about silly things, sometimes we’d have ice cream at the soda fountain in the drug store and we’d always find time to browse the aisles of the dime store.
I didn’t grow up rich, but we weren’t poor either – I’d say we were somewhere in between. Expensive toys were an extravagance. That year I was experiencing a growth spurt so keeping me in clothes and shoes took precedence over fancy toys.
I think it was late September or maybe the beginning of October. It was still warm enough in the Midwest to walk to the store with just a sweater over my dress. I remember how much fun it was to hear the brittle orange, red and gold leaves scrunching under my feet as mom and I walked the half mile to the stores.
Before we went into the A&P for groceries, I remember dragging mom into the dime store. I could see they were getting in their Halloween costumes and I wanted to pick mine out early. As we walked toward the toys I saw her. She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. Golden long curly hair, blue eyes that opened and closed, a pretty blue dress with a white pinafore, fancy white stockings covering her legs and on her feet were the cutest little shiny black shoes. She took my breath away.
You have to know I was not a doll person. I would have rather had coloring books and crayons or story books. But this doll was different – I was drawn to her like a magnet. I knew she had to be expensive because she was so beautiful. Her name was Sweet Alice.
A doll like Sweet Alice was way out of my league – I didn’t even want to get my hopes up. That didn’t stop me from talking about her all the way home. Mom listened and didn’t say anything. The next week I went back to look at her again. The following week when I went to visit her, she was gone. I asked the sales lady where Sweet Alice was and she told me someone bought her.
I tried not to cry or be disappointed. She wasn’t mine. I hadn’t even held her. I’d only looked at her through the clear cellophane box top. I hadn’t even taken the box off the shelf for fear I’d break her or maybe fall more in love with her.
Every year the dime store hosted a visit with Santa Claus party. I showed up bright and early with my mom and dad the Saturday before Christmas. When it was my turn to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him my Christmas wish I wasn’t sure what to say. I whispered in his ear so no one else would hear, “I want the Sweet Alice doll.”
He smiled, laughed hardily and handed me a candy cane. I knew in my heart of hearts Santa wouldn’t be able to make my wish come true. I was okay with that – it just was.
Christmas morning I was excited to see that Santa had eaten all the cookies I’d left him and even made time to write me a personalized thank you note. He’d also left some beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree. Together dad and mom handed me a big box wrapped in bright red paper. I remember they were smiling and excited to watch me open my present. Dad was ready with his camera to capture the moment.
Yes, it was Sweet Alice. My beautiful Sweet Alice with the golden curly hair and blue eyes that opened and closed. She was so beautiful and now she was mine.
Years later I found out mom went back to the dime store and put Sweet Alice on lay away. Every week she made a payment until the week before Christmas when Sweet Alice was paid in full. I have to confess, as I’m writing and remembering this I have tears in my eyes. I’ll never forget the thoughtfulness of my parents and the excitement we all felt that Christmas morning.
I don’t know what happened to my Sweet Alice doll. I guess she got replaced by Nancy Drew books and ballet classes. One thing I know for sure, that Christmas and that doll will be a precious holiday memory I’ll keep in my heart forever.
I wanted to share a picture I found – this is what Sweet Alice looked like, exactly as I remembered her. I’m admitting this, I found her under “vintage dolls.” Oh my gosh, my childhood memories are now old enough to be labeled as antiques.
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