Caroline Taylor

There are times when echoes from one’s past clamor to be told. And so .....On a wintry day 35 years ago, a little girl hastened to a thrift store when the school day was done. In her pocket was the first of many payments due on the Shirley Temple doll sitting on the back shelf of the store.

The little girl worked at odd jobs to earn that money. She walked dogs, mowed lawns and did errands. She swept the store for the owner every day after school for months on end. She spent Saturdays at that store stacking boxes and sorting goods.

Finally, nearly a year later and on an identical wintry day to the first, the little girl became proud Mama of the Shirley doll. Shirley was fairly large. She was in meticulous condition and the little girl kept her that way. Shirley had some lovely handmade clothing and her own furniture.

There was a special place in the little girl’s closet where Shirley could be safe when the parents of the house got to drinking and throwing things.

Many a night, Shirley and the little girl shared the safety of that closet.

Years passed. The little girl grew to be somebody’s wife and then someone's mother. Shirley went along too, safe as always in a closet space.

The young wife had made a poor marriage. She kept the shabby trailer home painfully clean, always doing her best to be of good cheer. The husband lost a job right after the second baby came. The water heater in the old trailer gave out. There was no money to buy another.

For a week, that young wife heated water on the gas range to wash babies and clothes. Many times a day did she pour hot water into the bathtub, add cold water, and whatever soap was on hand to keep the family clean.

And she thought, the only thing of value in the home was Shirley. Shirley would have to be sold.

And so the ad was placed.
The first day, nobody called.
The second day, somebody called.

A short time later, an older lady in a big car drove up in front of the trailer. She bought Shirley and carried her out of the trailer, out of my life. A little piece of my heart left when Shirley did.

The new water heater worked just fine....

... Many years have passed since that fateful day. The children of that marriage are grown, and I am remarried to a wonderful man who indulges me. I never told him my “Shirley story” until recently. He decided I should find another Shirley.

A wonderful young artist named Stephanie Sowatzka made my new Shirley. Such a beauty!

Once again, Shirley has her own wardrobe and furniture. She even has sleeping eyes! She is so beautiful! I cherish her. And she doesn't have to live in a closet, but in a nice room where she is comfortable all the time.

The little girl in me who loved Shirley, the young wife I was who sacrificed Shirley for my family, and the gently aging housewife I am today, embody the same soul who recalls these echoes from my past.