Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Memories & The Collecting Modus operandi - Pt. 2

Sometimes a collecting memory can lay dormant for decades. All of sudden, without any warning whatsoever, the object of your memories deep collecting desire can appear and you must act quickly to procure said item/s. I could be wrong, but I believe Jung referred to this particular collecting event as "synchronicity". This was assuredly the case with the objects that this little trip down wuz lane centers on.

 Way back around 1972 I was on a short get away in Virginia with my dad. The reason we were there was the fact that his mother was not doing very well with respect to her health. Once Dad & I  were done visiting with Grandma, we proceeded to make our rounds up and down all those awesomely wondrous Virginian mountains down there.

 Eventually I realized we were pulling into my favorite cousin's driveway. Yes! We had made it to my cousin Calvin's place.

  Now Calvin was an extremely cool cousin in my 10 year old mind. He was just several years shy of being twice my age, built hot rod model cars extremely well, and had been known for his routine generosity in that he would send me away with several treasured gifts. Who could ask for anything more?

 Calvin had just started driving his brother Buddy's old first car which actually belonged to their dad. He had offered to drive to the local drug store so that he & I could each get a model car to work on together. Calvin's stylish ride was some big dark blue boat that I certainly don't remember the exact type of, but I sure as heck remember what was starring directly at me from under the rear windshield. There beneath the rear glass, to my two wide eye's utter amazement, was the biggest and most wicked looking rubber vampire bat that I had ever seen! Naturally I started losing my mind immediately. I BEGGED my cousin to see if I could play with the darn thing while we drove to the drug store. (play with it? in reality I was already WAY past that action, that thing was going home with me whether Calvin knew it yet or not!)

 Much to my eager hands delight, Calvin immediately pulled that bat down off the rear window ledge and handed it right over to me. This thing was MONSTROUS and I was in heaven! You have to remember that my hands were those of a ten year old and to them, this thing was the size of a giant South American Fruit Bat. It was made out of one the wigglious, jigglious hunks of rubber I had ever felt. The fact that it had been sitting in the sun under the car's rear glass really helped. Not since I had been completely overcome with wanton desire when I tried unsuccessfully to steal my former kindergarten room mate, Kimberly Stankowski's Russ Berrie gorilla, had I looked upon and felt such a soft squishy desirable toy jiggler.

I don't want to get too side tracked here, but as my mind drifts back to this painful childhood episode, there we were, all of us innocent kindergartners sitting around in a circle drinking our milk, sitting on the big checkered floor, and having show and tell with this awesome new rubber thingy that Kimberly brought in. My positioning in this circle, considering my motives, was none too strategic. Come to think of it, I didn't even know what strategy was at the time so I forgive myself. I was nonetheless the last one sitting right next to Kimberly who had initially passed the object the opposite way from me in the circle. This naturally meant that I would be the last one to handle the little oozler prior to her getting it back. How was I supposed to know that Kimberly would notice the fact that she didn't get her toy back right away? Huh? The little sprite got suspicious almost immediately when her rubber gorilla managed not to return to her as it made it's way around the circle.  Well, Kimberly just sat there looking at me with that look of expectation. I leaned over and whispered in her ear, "I passed it back the other way". Women and their intuition, you just can't get away with anything! As Kimberly shrieked and exclaimed to the teacher that her prize possession had disappeared, the teacher immediately began her student inquiry as to the whereabouts of the missing toy. Kimberly was frantic, starting to cry and hyperventilate. Naturally, the teacher asked me specifically if I had the toy since I was the last one to have it passed to them. I sat there looking straight ahead as innocently as possible and did my best to calmly keep from drawing attention to the somewhat large squishy lump I was hiding under my butt. My butt was not that large at the time, neither was I. Sadly, when I did muster the courage to stand up and face the music, the roar of the children's laughter filled the class room as Kimberly quickly scampered on her hands and knees to retrieve her treasure from underneath me. I'm certain that it was much warmer than she remembered.

So anyways, out of the blue one morning about a month ago I am doing my daily Etsy, eBay, etc. obsessive perusing and what do you suppose should pop up as having just been listed "buy it now" for a killer price? Now bear in mind that I have been looking for just one of these in any condition whatsoever, for what, 20 years now? Here was not just one, but two of the amazing flying creatures, and they were like brand spanking new! I mean as close to mint as would be possible because these babies didn't come in individual packages. You bought them out of a 5 and dime grab bin.

  Remember the original bat that my cousin had in his car? When he gave it to me it was already missing the elastic cord from which to dangle from. It had been yanked out and the sun had really began to fade and bleach out the black rubber bat wings to a somewhat translucent brownish color, but I really didn't care in the least because at the time, this baby was my newest prize possession. I can tell you full well that wars have been started and fought over less pride and passion!

  I remember quite clearly how much wear and tear (literally!) that old bat had on it the last time I played with it as a kid. There was absolutely nothing left of it except for it's body with a slight bit of wing to either side of it. The Achilles heal for these critters were their somewhat thin floppy wings which as they got thrown around and bounced hanging from the rear view mirror of your car, the wings would get torn off. With mine the wings would develop tears that eventually ripped, but when they did I would do my best to tear the rip in the sense that it still formed the original shape and angle of the bat's wings. You could only do this so many times before fondly referring to your pet rubber bat as "Stubby". 

Just as a side note, Calvin did in fact graciously give me that big rubber bat to take home. This being of his own sweet, generous, Virginian good nature. I played with it nearly the entire time we visited with Calvin's family and he simply would not stand for me not taking it home, along with some Archie comics and my new model car that he helped me to paint. How many remember the cool old model car, The Rodfather? That was the model that I bought that day at the drug store that Calvin helped me to paint. He was/is one COOL cousin!


When I did receive these flying black beauties in the mail, I don't know if I have ever honestly been happier opening a vintage collectible. I was ecstatic.


  1. YAY!!!! You got your bats! Cordially, Aunt Jane

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  3. Jeff those are really cool toys you have. Here is a picture of handheld battery operated games from the late 70s to early 80s,glad I kept them. James