Those Lundbys - FamilyEducation

Those Lundbys

March 07,2008
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

My sister and I used to have a Lundby dollhouse, acquired sometime deep in the 1970s. We loved it and played with it constantly. I still remember the voyeuristic thrill of peering through the doll house windows at the Lundby family as they moved from kitchen to dining room, or upstairs, enacting poses and scenarios my sister and I had carefully planned out. Anyway, the dollhouse didn't survive the years, but on Ebay last summer, driven by a sudden fit of nostalgia, I bought another replacement Lundby doll house roughly from the same era, although the wallpaper was a little more modern. My husband bought me a new third story for my birthday that year and then I salvaged the bottom story of our original house from the attic of my parents' house and was happy to see the raging 1970s wallpaper was still as groovy as ever. I also found a wooden box bound up in duct tape which contained the doll house furniture and the original Lundby family who had been displaced many, many years ago and had since fallen on rough times. When I opened up the box of doll house furniture it was like opening a time capsule. I had forgotten about most of it, but as I pulled piece after piece out I could remember playing with it those many years ago. I remembered exactly how my sister and I had arranged the furniture, and how she had made a little wall calendar out of pages cut from a magazine. The calendar was still there, almost as good as new. In fact, most of the furniture was in pretty good shape, but the family had not aged well. Somehow, in the move from house to storage box, the Lundby mom had lost her shirt and was looking pretty, well, down-and-out. The father was still sporting his 1970s leisure suit, and the Lundby boy's shirt was hanging in tatters around his right arm. Scott has suggested (asked) numerous times that I replace the Lundby people. He argues that if the family's luck could so dramatically turn about and they could could now rattle around in a four story fairly well-furnished home complete with a garage, then surely they could spring for some new updated clothing. I won't ever trade in that Lundby family for a modern one. They stand as sort of monuments to me of another time--and I don't mean a time when shag carpets were the rage. Without the Lundbys, I might not have stopped to remember that period in my life when the doll house was once so important to me. I have, as it turns out, no memory of the doll house itself being packed up. I don't remember a pivotal moment when I decided I was too old to play with it, or any lingering trauma over letting go of this important piece of my childhood. I suppose maybe I didn't even help pack it away, or even didn't notice it was gone. I guess that's probably the way with most childhood milestones: as children we glide through them without noticing too much what we shelve away, or relinquish in our drive to move ever forward. As a parent now I feel my own children's transitions more keenly. When I watch L. and T. playing with the doll house now I realize that time doesn't actually diminish the importance of particular moments but just tosses layers upon layers of new things over the old. When you get a chance someday to dust off the old you realize the moments are still there after all; perhaps a bit frayed and down-trodden, but at the ready for resurrection.