Still in love with the dollhouse after all these years
Beverly Beckham’s dollhouse (above), which had greater sentimental value than an old doll (left). (Photos by Beverly Beckham)
By Beverly Beckham

All the things I’ve wanted. Saved for. Had to have. Bought. Loved in my life. Then, one day, abandoned. That’s what happens with things. Ginny dolls. Cabbage Patch dolls. Elsa and Anna. All history now, passion turned to indifference, generation after generation after generation.

My first real purchase? I was 12. It was summer. I’d baby-sat for an entire week, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, three kids. I’d earned $25. A neighbor was selling a typewriter for $40.

To this day I don’t know if my mother negotiated down the cost or if she added $15. But there it was, finally, in my bedroom, this desired thing that would turn me into a Sloan Wilson.

But it didn’t.

I believed that a typewriter had magical properties. I believed that with a typewriter, I would become a writer. I used it for a while. For a long while, all through high school and college. Eventually I abandoned it for a used IBM Selectric and stored this, my first real, retail love, in the basement until someone needed it as a prop.

I had a hard time letting it go.

When I was in my 20s, I believed that I would be able to sew like my friend Caryn — she matched her plaids — if only I had a sewing machine like hers.

I hadn’t yet learned. I still haven’t learned. To this day, I walk into Macy’s and am seduced by the promise that with this new miracle cream I can look years younger. With this foundation, my skin will glow.

Why else did I fall in love with a giant glass world globe at Costco, if not for the promise? I swear there is something in the air at Costco, an odorless, invisible something that makes you buy things you absolutely do not need. I was on my way to produce for bananas. I had no interest in a globe. But there it was. I bought it believing that I would look at it every day and get smarter.

That did not happen. What did is that the globe was too big for every place it lived — the dining room, the living room, the front hall, an upstairs bedroom, until finally it landed in the basement.

The basement, aka The Land of the Once Beloved. I was 5 when I begged Santa for the aqua and white metal doll’s high chair that lives under the stairs. I was 4 when I begged for the doll that still sits in the chair. I loved my hope chest the Christmas Eve I got it. Every record I bought, I loved at the time. A lavabo. A Navajo sand painting. My Ginny doll. The glass Costco globe. I loved them all. Now here they sit in a kind of limbo.

I had a doll house for years. It was mine, not my kids’. I was pregnant with our third child, when my husband drove to Maine and bought it for me from a man whose name was Woodman.

I had seen the doll house at a craft fair. I was 29. I loved craft fairs. The dollhouse was a wooden farmhouse with a long, front porch. It looked like the Waltons’ farmhouse. I loved The Waltons too; I never missed an episode.

My father was in the middle of fixing up this doll house — re-shingling, repairing the broken back stairs, the stone chimney (my kids, then their kids, had inflicted damage) — when he died.

I put it back together the best that I could and set it on the floor in an upstairs bedroom. I loved it, still. I couldn’t banish it to the basement.

A few months ago, Xena came to visit, Xena, my grown-up cousin who, when she was little, spent hours wallpapering and painting that doll house, who now has a daughter of her own.

I gave her the dollhouse for her daughter. I watched her carry it down the stairs and place it in the trunk of her car. And a kind of magic happened. I thought that of all the things I’ve wanted, saved for, had to have, loved in my life, I have loved this dollhouse the most. Not because it made me anything I wasn’t. I loved it because my husband drove all the way to northern Maine to get it for me. Because my children played with it. Because their children and Xena played with it. Because my father’s hands worked on it. Because even now it reminds me of The Waltons. Because passion didn’t turn to indifference this time. Because here it is, generation after generation after generation, still loved.

Beverly Beckham’s column appears every two weeks. She can be reached at