my very own toy story

Last night, Nick and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D…. and there were no shortage of tears that resulted. I am a fan of the Toy Story series in general, and all of the movies have had touching and tearful moments (well, at least for me — I’m a crier), but this was some serious, I’m-sobbing-and-I-hope-no-one-can-see-me-behind-these-giant-3D-glasses kind of crying. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know what I mean. (Or you just think I’m crazy and hormonal. Also true.) I’m not going to sell him out, but let’s just say that someone sitting to my left may have also had tears running down his face.

What can I say? We’re a bunch of saps.

I won’t ruin the ending of the movie for anyone who has not yet seen it, but the premise of the film is that Andy, the toys’ owner, is all grown up and going off to college; Andy no longer has the same need for Woody and Buzz (and the rest of his beloved toys) as he prepares to move on to his exciting new life. It’s true that we all grow up and lose some of the emotional attachment we once had with our toys, but I’m pretty sure that we all had our own Woody and Buzz at some point; those toys that represent our childhood, our innocence, our happiness.

For me, those toys were my CPKs — my Cabbage Patch Kids. My two best friends — Jill and Denise — and I were totally in love with our CPKs. We went over to each other’s houses and had CPK school, CPK parties, CPK dance recitals… CPK everything. We had piles upon piles of clothes and accessories for our kids. We were enamored with them and they truly were like our own children.

My first Cabbage Patch Kid was Carol — she had orange yarn for hair and she was one of the original dolls when the CPK fad first hit in the early 80s. I adored Carol, and she came with me wherever I went… including one fateful trip to the store with my mom where Carol was accidentally left behind. I was heartbroken when we couldn’t find her, but never fear — Carol 2.0 soon became mine and all was right with my world again.

me with the original Carol;
please take note of my stylish Strawberry Shortcake shoes

and the delightful shag carpeting

Over the years, I collected more and more Cabbage Patch Kids — some were gifts, some I saved up for and bought with my own money, some were inherited from my older brother when the novelty of the boy dolls wore off on him. At one point, I had 12 CPKs. Excessive, perhaps, but they were my world. I really don’t remember any other dolls or toys that I loved as a kid, and that was probably because I didn’t have a lot of others. My joy came from my CPKs, so that’s what I stuck with.
The summer before I turned ten years old, my mom, brother and I went to visit relatives in New Orleans. My dad still had to work, so he stayed home and held down the fort, and the days that he’d be on the road for work, our neighbors were going to stop in to feed our dogs. Of course I couldn’t bring all of my CPKs to New Orleans with me, so I chose one to bring along — her name was Jillian and she was one of the new bath-time Cabbage Patch Kids who had a rubbery body that could get wet; she had silky blond hair and wore a cute little yellow bathing suit with bright pink polka dots, and a bathrobe on top. My other 11 kids stayed home.

The day before our trip, Jill, Denise and I had forced our parents to sit through a CPK dance recital in Jill’s basement; my kids and their plethora of costumes were still in the garbage bag that I had transported them to Jill’s house in.

Yes… a garbage bag. Do you see where this is going?

I remember leaving the bag at the bottom of our stairs, by the front door, in the living room of our house on Claremont Road. It was completely my fault; I should have put the bag in my room when I got back from Jill’s house that day, or taken the dolls out of the bag entirely and put them away. But I didn’t. To this day, we don’t know who was responsible for disposing of the garbage bag, but it was just a very unfortunate accident. My kids were inadvertently put on the curb amidst the garbage and taken away. All I had left was Jillian, the doll I had taken to New Orleans with me.

We didn’t realize what had happened until a day or so after we returned from our trip when I invited Jill over to play with our CPKs. She came from her house across the street with her own bag full of kids, while my mom and I looked everywhere for mine. We simply could not find them. And then, it hit us. When we finally realized what must have happened, I think my mom was as devastated as I was. I remember the look on Jill’s face… she felt the loss, too. I cried and cried and cried.

It took a while to be able to joke about it, but my mom and I now refer to that fateful event as “the cruise” — as in, the cruise that my CPKs took… to the Bermuda Triangle.

Looking back, I was probably growing too old to still be regularly playing with dolls, and I didn’t really want to replace all of my lost Cabbage Patch Kids; getting a Carol 3.0 just sounded like a silly idea. Perhaps losing them at that point in my life was a little sign that it was time to grow up.

I did eventually get a few more CPKs, but they could never have truly replaced my lost dolls; many of them became more like collectibles to me as I got older. They sat as decoration on the built-in shelves in my bedroom, and helped me to remember the old times. Denise gave me an artist Cabbage Patch Kid as a gift when we graduated from high school. It was a nice little reminder of who we once were all those years ago, and where we were going (I was headed to college to major in art). The Cabbage Patch Kids I gradually collected after “the cruise” are still tucked away in a bin in my mom’s basement, including that artist doll who is still in her original box; maybe my future kids will enjoy playing with them someday.

It may sound crazy, but I still get a little choked up when I think about losing my kids. Recounting this story actually makes my heart hurt. Cabbage Patch Kids were such a huge part of my childhood, and although it may sound silly because they were only toys and not real people, that was really my first experience with heartbreaking loss. It was accidental and unexpected, and there was nothing anyone could do to get them back. Twenty years later, I can still clearly recall the sadness I felt.

I remember telling the story of “the cruise” to my friend Amy 10 or so years ago, and she had tears in her eyes as I relayed what happened. No matter who we are or where we came from, we can all relate to having that innocent, emotional connection with and undying love for a toy (or toys) as a child; fortunately, the memory of utter happiness and adoration for that thing is not something that can be taken away from you, even when the object is no longer part of your world.

Me with another one of my CPKs, years before “the cruise”

My childhood joy was my Cabbage Patch Kids… what was yours?


  1. Oh i cried alot. and at first i was blaming my hormones but nope, I remembered crying at the other two ;)

    I loved my popples. Loved. Wish I still had it.

  2. Aww, I loved CPKs when I was little. We also had Carol (who I LOVED, because my sister and I are both redheads). And, when we went to visit the place they make the cabbage patch kids (I don't even remember where it is, now … somewhere fairly close to Chattanooga, probably) I got a preemie doll. Might have been a sign of things to come, as I am now a NICU nurse :) Good memories.

    Also, I NEED to see Toy Story! I honestly haven't seen the second one, so I have some catching up to do, but the first one is such a classic. Yay for Pixar :)

  3. I haven't seen the movie yet but I so want to! I too loved CPKs when I was younger. And I actually just this past year gave most of them away. They've been in a closet in my parents house since I moved out after high school, but I could never bring myself to actually give them away. I finally decided that now that I've gone through 7 years of post high school education, entered the work force and am getting married, it was probably time to give away the dolls (I totally kept my favorite though).

    But my even bigger love when I was a kid was for my stuffed animals. And while I gave away the majority of my collection, I still have my Tiggers and my stuffed walrus that I've had since I was 8. My fiance can laugh all he wants, but those things are family! (yeah, I think I need to have kids so I can tell people that's why the stuffed animals are around…)

  4. I had a couple CPKs growing up as well. I remember when my sister got a "Jillian" I was SO jealous! She also had the one where you could do her hair. I played with that doll more than she did haha
    But like A Long Far View, my biggest love was my stuffed animals. Over the years I've given most of them away but I still have 2 garbage bags (or more) that I can't part with. I'll be 30 in July and I have 2 (or more) garbage bags full of stuffed animals I can't part with. hahaha
    P.S. Your Strawberry Shortcake shoes were the first things I noticed in that picture. I think I had the same ones :)

  5. I had the same doll (the last photo) and her name was Ashley.

    I still have my stash at my parent's house, I guess I should pick them up one day, but still… What to do with them?

    P.s You were an adorable kid!

  6. I still remember the names of my two CPKs. Teresa Jolene and Irvin Ricardo!

  7. I've only ever had one CPK. His given name was Roy Elmer, but my 2-year-old self quickly renamed him Roy Boy. I slept with him every single night, even taking him with me on trips. Even when I was in high school. Even when I was in college. He now sleeps under my bed, as my husband would think it was creepy to sleep with a doll. And Roy Boy has that hard CPK head that the hubby wouldn't appreciate rolling over on…

    I can't imagine losing Roy Boy, even now. It broke my heart to read your story. I can feel your pain even though they weren't my CPKs that went on a cruise…I think yours is a universal experience, even if the details are a little different for everyone.

  8. I love your story! I got all sad for you about losing your CPKs. I had an orange bunny holding a basket, named Benji, that went EVERYWHERE with me. Benji got lost and scuffed up a few times, and once he lost his basket, but my mom sewed it right back on for me. Benji still sits in my old room at my parents' house. Hopefully I will be able to give him to one of my kids one day.

  9. Wow, I totally would have been jealous of you back in the day! I had just two CPKs. Derek and Kellina (or was it Karina)? He was bald, that is all I remember. My sister had Laura, a curly blonde. My grandma had one named Ty. Why do I remember all of this!?

  10. I cried, too, especially when the mom walks in to Andy's almost-empty room as he goes away to college. I got so sad thinking what that would be like for me, my little boy all grown up. Sap, I know.

    I totally remember my CPK. Her name was Agatha, she had red hair, and she'd been given to me by my grandfather. To be honest with you, I'm not sure what happened to her. Craig has a sad CPK story. He really wanted one as a kid, his mom bought it for him, and when his dad saw him with it, he threw it away! He didn't think his son should have a "doll."

    I think he's dying to get one for Wesley now.

  11. I left my CPK outside at a friend's house and the dog ate it and I cried and cried. My great grandma took pity on me and gifted me another, and I named her Jenna Nichole Andersen and I LOVED her.

    I wonder what the doll of choice will be for my daughter(s) if I have them.

  12. OMG SUCH an adorable (and sad!) story… I love, love, love "the bag full of kids"… awww.

  13. That is such a sad story!
    For my sisters and I, our special toy was Barbie – we had over three hundred dolls, and a whole room devoted to them and their assorted goods. We constructed elaborate family trees and I wrote soap-opera worthy play scripts for my sisters to follow. What can I say, I was a little bossy! :) So many friends wanted to come over to play with our dolls – and many friends, right through junior high, wanted to play as soon as they saw our playroom.
    We still have most of our dolls packed away for future children to play with – in fact, one of the first things my sister said after learning my baby was a girl was, "oh! now we can play Barbies again!" :D

    I loved this story, and you were so cute as a little girl!

  14. Brooke! Oh my gosh, that's so sad!! I loved my CPK dolls too. My sister and I would play with them all the time. We even gave some of them accents, and acted like they were new kids from the North. They were a huge part of our life. I definitely feel your loss.

  15. So sad! I had a CPK and my mom made tons of clothes for her. I think I still have her in my keepsake box somewhere.

  16. @April – you went to where they MADE the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls? That would have been so amazing! Highly jealous!!

    @Laura Jane, @OMG Mom, @Shortcake – aww, thanks :) Not gonna lie — I agree that I was pretty cute, ha! I know, so full of myself.

    @Deanna – those names crack me up. Irvin Ricardo! HA!

    @Ashley – I think you need to let Roy Boy sleep with you (scandalous) the next time your hubby goes away.

    @thehighernest – that is so sad that Craig's dad got rid of his CPK doll :( When I have kids, I will support whatever toy it is that makes them happy! And yes, please buy one for Wesley and post pictures :)

    @Jenna – I love that you named the doll after yourself! So cute.

    Thanks, everyone, for your sweet comments and awesome stories. I love reminiscing about the good ol' days of childhood.

  17. Awww…my heart hurts for you!

    My joy was CPK dolls, Magic Nursery dolls, and Barbies. :)

  18. What a heartbreaking story!! I love how I can't remember the names of some of the kids I knew back then but I remember my CPKs – Maggie Albina (who must've been Carol's twin) and Jacqueline Amanda. I also had a tape of CPK songs, the lyrics of which I still remember to this day, especially that bunny-bee song:

    By the way, those photos are AMAZING – your shortcake shoes just killed me.

  19. I had a pink bunny named corduroy. He wasn't stuffed, he had little plastic beads inside. He was my mothers and when I was in kindergarten she found him in the attic at my grandparents house and gave him to me. I named him and still have him! Hey, he is a family heirloom that needs to be passed down!

  20. I had two CPKs! Catrina Aggie and Cara Cynthia. One of them still lies on the guest bedroom at my Parents' house (the bed and room that I grew up in). I am sorry your dear dollies were lost forever. I sympathize. I had a plastic doll named Sara when I was young who was supposed to drink from a bottle and then wet her diaper. Mistakenly, we assumed she was waterproof and I took her into the bath with me. She never quite dried and got mildewy inside; my mom made me throw her away because she smelled funny. It was a tragic loss.

    BTW-your strawberry shortcake shoes are pretty darned fab!

  21. Oh my goodness, that is such a sad story!!!! I can't imagine how awful you must have felt. At least you have these awesome photos with you and your kids! :)

    I haven't seen this movie yet, but I cried and cried during "Up". I even started bawling when they played the tiny clip during the Oscars! The folks at Pixar sure do know how to tug our heartstrings. ;)

  22. Iam in my 40s and love cpks..when the fad came out i wanted one so badly all my freinds had one or more.but my single mother couldnt afford them..even now as a adult i look at them on ebay and toys rus.loveingly and i have seen the little red headed one you had maybe you can replace her on ebay??I wished they became popular again..I got a fake one when i was 11 she had the off kilter eyes and short brown hair..but i loved my amanda.

  23. I loved your story. I have a heart wrenching attachment to my CPK dolls as well. I had a similar story where I lost my doll on a family vacation. I was devastated. Went the whole weekend think who is going to take care of her. She was eventually found on the last day of the vacation, words couldn’t express the joy I felt that day. I have over 27 of the original CPK dolls (and the My Child dolls. Not sure if you remember them.) At 30+years of age I still can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

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