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My mom bought me a toolkit and a train set, which, in the early 70’s, were pretty weird toys for a girl. It was a pre-plastic era, and all of the toys had the metal heft of the real article. They were miniature, yes, but didn’t have the garish colors or distorted proportions of today’s Fisher Price. I can still feel the boxcar wheels click onto the steel tracks and the serrated dial adjust the jaws of the wrench. “I wanted her to know she could be anything she wanted,” my mother likes to tell people. But when she asked me one day, in our
avocado kitchen, what I thought that might be, I revealed a narrow concept of the word anything. “I want to be a farmer’s wife,” I told her.

When my mom tells this story at dinner parties, it always kills.

PDF icon Hi, Ho the Derry-O -- published in Baltimore Fishbowl