Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
Droopy entered my life when I was 4, I think. I can remember… just… choosing him from a counter in British Home Stores. My twin chose a white rabbit, in blue trousers. She named him Whiskey – he was over-stuffed and filled with sawdust. Droopy on the other hand was soft and squishy and plush. I fell in love with him the moment that I lay my hands on him. He was known in our house as a bloodhound. The breed, I feel, was debatable. He resembled in no way any real dog that I have ever met.
Droopy was a dark golden brown, with a white chest. The plush fur that he was made from rippled when he was fondled, and it shaded with the light – endlessly fascinating my young eyes. He had a short stub of a tail and two long floppy ears that reached almost to his waist. Yes, Droopy was an upright dog. I made him a pair of trousers from some cotton scraps in the family rag bag. The trousers were of a different colour front and back and had a hole in the seat, to hang his tail through.
Droopy’s name now became Droopy Drawers.
On my first day at school, Droopy came with me. At lunchtime my cousin, who was then in the Big school, came over to examine my friend. She made a grab for him and I would not let him go. We held a brief tug of war. I ended up with Droopy, and cousin Pauline ended up with one of his ears. I sewed the ear back on as best I could, but it never stayed put and eventually was lost, leaving my dog not only drooping, but also lop-sided.
When Droopy first came to live with me he had a bark; squeezing his white tummy made him emit a deep groaning noise.
I was five, going on six, when I was admitted to hospital to have my tonsils out. Of course, Droopy had to come too. Mother, being the mother that she was, suffered some mortification at this idea. Droopy had been much-loved in the time that we had together and was now less than white, shall we say. Missing an ear, and all… There was some arbitration, which ended up with Droopy hanging by his one good ear from the washing line.
The poor dog was never the same again. One-eared, and with all his stuffing now migrated to the ends of his limbs, his bark had also disappeared. Droopy did his duty, keeping me company in the hospital and he did not seem to mind the nurses laughing at his trousers.
When we were discharged, I had a period of recuperation at home before returning to school. During this hiatus, I turned surgeon myself, operating on poor Droopy to remove his broken bark – which was located somewhere around his appendix – a misshapen lump of cardboard bellows and now-rusty metal spring. Bath-time had not been kind to poor Droopy. I stitched him up and solemnly promised no future indignities of a watery nature.
Droopy lived in my bed for many years. I moved him out when I reached an age where boys figured larger than cuddly toys did in my life. Droopy sat guard on the shelf. I was 16 the first time that he went missing. I came home from school and… no Droopy! Where was he? He was in the bin! My mother had decided that I was too old for toys and just tossed the “dirty old thing” out for the bin men. I retrieved my best friend forthwith.
A war of attrition followed; periodically I would rescue Droopy from the rubbish and restore him to my bedroom.
I left home at 18, and went to live in the Nurses Home at the hospital where I was to train as a Radiographer. Droopy kept me company for a while. Then the awful day came when I told myself that I was all grown up and in a fit of prematurely adult behaviour, I tossed Droopy out into the rubbish myself.
I regretted it of course. I still do. Whatever possessed me, I do not know.
Bloodhound image: By Bruce (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons