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Memories endure long after childhood: Toys play big role in young lives
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Memories endure long after childhood: Toys play big role in young lives

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While Ray Palczynski's Lionel train still exists and has been passed to a new generation of children, other reader favorites have met different fates. 

Lenore Knock told us about her Hedda Get Bedda doll from 1961 that is likely the least-known of the favorite toys cited by readers.

Hedda was a doll made by the now defunct American Character Doll Co. that had — incredibly — three different faces. A child could change the face by turning a knob on the top of the doll's vinyl nightcap. Her faces were "sick" (measles or chicken pox) "sleeping" and "smiling," or "bedda" (all better).

She was sold with a hospital bed and thermometer.

• Marcella Heneke, of Maquoketa, Iowa, reported on a time long ago when inches-thick mail-order catalogs from big stores like Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penny would arrive in the mail and little girls would cut out the people and clothes to make paper dolls.

• Of all the toys Gayne Dunn, of Hampton, played with as a child, it was the wooden "Bill Ding" balancing clowns, originally made by the Strombeck Manufacturing Co. of Moline, that held the most fascination.

"My toy box has been long gone now, taking my baby dolls and marbles with it. Yet, I can look and wonder at my Bill Dings and feel the pleasure of the time I spent with them," Dunn wrote in an email.

• Barb Reiland, of Blue Grass, tells a truly sad story of her Barbie doll and the wardrobe her grandmother made for her. It included a mink coat out of real mink and a pill box-style hat of the kind made famous by Jackie Kennedy.

"Unfortunately, like most kids when they leave home for the first time, I left most of my collectibles and toys in a box in my parents' attic, fully intending to retrieve them one day," Reiland wrote in an email.

You can guess where this story is leading.

Both her mother and father passed away and all the assets of the home were left to someone out of the family. "When we requested access to retrieve personal property, the (owner) agreed to look for, and give us, family photos and nothing else.

"I have no idea what happened to my precious Barbie doll. I would like to get her back, but I fear she is gone forever."

• Jo Souder Vandecar, of Davenport, still cherishes her toy piano, a play thing that spurred her desire for a real piano and led to her career in music education.

• For the entire 63 years Phyllis James and her husband have been married, James has displayed in their china cabinet the "Blue Willow" china tea set she received when she was five years old.

• Mr. Ed, a talking horse pull-string hand puppet, was such a favorite of Gail Pusateri, of Letts, Iowa, that she took it with her to college. "Then his rubber head got sticky, due to deteriorating rubber. I still regret getting rid of him," she wrote.

• Darlene Koster, of Davenport, is 91 years old, but still has the baby doll she received when she was around five years old, a doll whose eyes open and close.

You can read more about these stories, and others, on Page XX.

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