My memories of early childhood are blurred images with staccato flashes of focus - the smell of shellac which fixed the wallpaper doodads my mother made to hang in the doorway between the parlor and the dining room - the sound of laughter that bubbled up from deep inside my brother and me when I broke the scarlet fever quarantine and sneaked in bed to play with him - the feel of cold hash squashing through my fist when I opened the bottom section of our old ice box - the distant vision of tall, angry faces so far away from where I lived near the floor.
Of all these flashes, one memory stands clearest. We lived in the country and had an outside toilet. The incident I recall must have occurred in the summer because of the brightness and the smell and the flies. Outhouses are not particularly aesthetic surroundings for the basic life process of elimination, and this one was no exception. The interior was supplied with a catalogue, which I did not find entrancing, and a little step built in front of the little hole, which I did not like to use. I preferred wrestling with the dire threat of falling into the big hole and there I sat precariously balanced and extremely bored. Constipation, no doubt, was my problem.
I had brought my doll with me to this unpleasant prison. As I was not a motherly child, this is the only occasion I remember a doll in my life at all, but there she was, dainty and fragile, and she didn't have to grunt. In my boredom, I arranged her carefully in the corner next to where I sat. I tried several positions before I found one which suited me. Her legs were crossed as ladies' legs should be (another of my problems in life) and her hands were placed tidily in her lap.
Then I left. Did I meet with success in my mission? Did my mother call? I don't remember, but my departure must have been sudden because I went off without my doll. Much later in the day, I remembered her with consternation. What a terrible plight she was in, stuck in all the odor, flies, and heat just because I had been careless and forgotten her!
Back I rushed as quickly as possible, remembering how composed she had looked sitting in the corner with her legs crossed and hands resting in her lap. When I reached the outhouse, I flung the door open abruptly. Much to my shocked amazement, she had moved! She was lying on her face with one arm flung high and her legs uncrossed!
"Oh!" I thought, "she is alive! I caught her in action when I opened the door so suddenly!"
This was a great day in my life. I knew secrets that others didn't know, and I've never told a soul till now. It was old hat to me when I came across Raggedy Anne stories later in my life. I could have written them myself.
Is this the reason why I believe in magic? Why ESP and God and seeds all seem possible to me? The logic of a child is a precious thing. It is precious because it is so uncluttered by doubt. Adult logic is so stern. Perhaps adults are as far adrift from considering the gamut of possibility as was that child who rushed to rescue her doll and discovered a secret of life, - the secret of believing.