We are currently in the process of renovating a Victorian Era house and soon we will be moving there from the home we have lived in for forty years. While in the midst of sorting through what we’ll take, give away or discard, I happened upon one very important thing that will never end up in the dumpster. The dollhouse.
Lovingly crafted by my father in the 1960s, it had been tucked away in the attic, on its side and unused since our daughter became a teenager. Hoping that it hadn’t become the home for any resident mice, I nevertheless cleaned it thoroughly. Solidly having withstood the test of time, it was basically fine, needing only a few tweaks and repairs. With paints, brushes, glue, and materials purchased from the hobby store, I set myself up to begin the renovation process. This, I could handle easily. Or so I thought.
As I began, room by room, touching it up, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by memories. It was as if my father were there, right there, in the room with me. Once again, he was by my side and guiding me. As a child, my father was always ready and excited for a challenge or a project. No task or request was ever too much. When I told him how much I loved the photography class in middle school, he created a makeshift darkroom in the corner of our basement, brilliantly using a slide projector as an enlarger. Often on a Sunday afternoon, we would work together, side by side, dipping the tiny prints we had made from developer to fixer.
One room in the basement was later dedicated to his model train setup, complete with landscaped hills and valleys with glass topped lakes. He was nonstop in his creativity. Using kits, he built a television, an organ, a grandfather’s clock and a robot! So, building a dollhouse had been a snap for him!
The attention to detail that he had undertaken in everything that he did was mind boggling. And he was at his best while working on anything miniature. The dollhouse was the perfect example of his incredible skill. He had electrified the whole house, cleverly creating light fixtures out of random nuts and bolts and bottle caps. The staircase railings were made from painted toothpicks, holding the tiny handmade railings. And underneath the staircase, he had hidden all of the electrical wirings. On the second floor of the house, he had carefully etched lines and nail holes into a piece of wood, creating the look of a tiny wooden floor for the hallway.
My only hope is that I have managed to restore it back to its original state. Once we are moved into our new home, the dollhouse will have a place of honor, to be played with and loved by our grandchildren. And a bit of my incredible father will live on, hopefully for another generation or two.