He would crouch down on the floor beside me, pinching the plastic four-inch grandpa doll between his thumb and forefinger. They resembled one another—the doll and the man—both clad in a powdery blue button down shirts and kakis, both gray-crowned and gangly. The doll, however, had a mustache. My grandpa did not.
“Goodbye, see you later,” I would wave enthusiastically on behalf of the mommy and daddy dolls before helping them into the ridiculous blue and pink minivan. For some strange reason, the Loving-Family dollhouse artists fixated on baby blue and powder pink.
With the parents out for the evening, the grandpa doll and his granddaughter were free. Usually, they meandered down the imaginary street to the imaginary ice cream shop where the grandpa doll bought his granddaughter an imaginary treat. While she licked her vanilla ice cream cone, my grandpa and I would munch on cheerios and he would tell me stories about the Great Depression. Then, our dolls walked to the park. With my help, the granddaughter would situate herself on the single swing and the grandpa—shaking in between my grandpa’s fingers—would push her back and forth.
Eventually, the girl and her grandpa would wander back to the pink and blue three-story house and take a nap. The parents would return and all would be well. In the shelter of the pink and blue mansion, every ending was a happy one.
But houses aren’t really pink and blue.
It’s strange to think that Fisher-Price—the company that produced my dollhouse and plasticized my fairytales—also manufactured ammunition crates and repair parts for fighter planes in World War II. Somewhere in Germany, there was a real house and a loving family sleeping inside when the air raid sirens startled them out of their dreams. If they were lucky, they scrambled down into the bomb shelter in time. When they came out, the house was gone.
Maybe fairy-tales only exist in plastic.
Sometimes life flies over you like a B-17 bomber, the sirens go off, and something or someone you always counted on is suddenly gone.
It’s been over a decade since my grandpa and I played doll-house. Today, the Loving-Family grandpa doll rests peacefully in a cardboard box in an upstairs closet, the eternal smile and mustache still stamped across his face. Old, but never older.
My grandpa died of a heart attack nine years ago.