Friday, April 21, 2017

Farewell Dayton's

Daddy Steve:  The place where Sasha and I first met each other is gone.  A few weeks ago, Dayton's department store in downtown Minneapolis closed its doors for the last time.

Sasha: We're feeling a little sad.

Of course, technically it was no longer Dayton's.  That name disappeared more than a decade ago.  By the time the store closed it was a branch of Macy*s.  However, to most Minneapolis residents, it would always be Dayton's--a beloved shopping destination for over 115 years.

(Even Daddy John, who grew up in northern Minnesota, knew Dayton's.)

Dayton's in the early 1900s.

Early 1970s; the way it looked when I got Sasha.

Our American followers may also recognize the quick glimpse of the store in the opening of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

There were other department stores downtown, but Dayton's was in a class by itself.  With nine retail floors, it seemed to stretch on forever.  It was always a very classy, elegant store.  Dayton's auditorium shows were legendary.  During the Christmas holidays they staged a large animated display based on a different children's story every year.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1976

Harry Potter in 2000

Every spring, the store's auditorium was transformed into a lush garden for the annual flower show.  I remember one year in particular that featured a full-sized, working carousel decorated entirely with flowers.

Flower shows through the years.

Dayton's had a wonderful toy department on the eighth floor.  It was there where I first encountered Sasha dolls.  I can still remember them in a large, glass display cabinet: blond and brunette gingham girls, London girls and boys, ballerinas, denim boys, and, of course, my boy.  I believe when you see Sashas for the very first time, you're struck not only by how beautiful they are, but also by how unique they look.  They're unlike any other doll.  

I got Sasha in about 1973, even though he's actually a 1968 boy.  He had obviously been waiting for me for quite a while.  I still remember the clerk going to the back room and bringing him out in his 'crayon' tube.  

I still have his original pajamas outfit and tube.

(By the way, for those of you who have wondered why he's named Sasha and not Gregor--well, with the name Sasha printed all over his tube, my 7-year-old self just assumed that was his name.)

In later years, the store suffered from new competition: suburban shopping malls, outlet stores, and online shopping.  Later owners were indifferent to the qualities that endeared Dayton's to its shoppers.

During the closing, even Santa's chair was up for sale.

End of an era.

Change is inevitable, and it can be a positive thing.  Sometimes, though, it comes with a price.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Attack of the Bunny Bandit

Daddy Steve:  It's Easter in Gregoropolis and the boys awoke and got dressed extra early so they could search for their Easter baskets.  However, a very curious thing happened sometime after the Easter Bunny made his deliveries!

Rolf:  Ach du lieber!
Bowie:  Aw, man, no way!

It seems that someone else other than the Easter Bunny made a visit to each basket--someone with an appetite for chocolate.

Miguel:  ¡Ay Dios mío!  ¿Dónde están las orejas?
Sasha:  >Gasp!<

Emile:  Sacre bleu!  Who would do such a thing?
Robin:  Oh...I think I know...

All:  Frank!

Frank:  Whaaaat?

Happy Easter from all of us at Gregoropolis!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Meeting The New Boy

Daddy John:  The big day was here as Stephen Orange finally arrived.  The boys were all a little nervous about meeting each other, so I decided we'd take a walk in the park to ease the tension a little (plus, it was a beautiful day).

At first, the boys didn't seem to know what to say to each other.

It was Annabelle who finally took matters in hand, er, paw...

Annabelle:  sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff-sniff
Benjamin Roy: Annabelle!  No jumping!
Stephen Orange:  It's okay.  Hello, girl!

Amazingly, it was our shyest boy who broke the ice.

Pete:  My name is Peter and BR calls me 'Pete Dakota,' but everyone else just calls me 'Pete.'
Stephen Orange:  Hello, Pete.  My full name is Stephen Orange, but it's okay if you want to call me just 'Stephen' or even just 'Orange.'

Stephen Orange:  I like your shirt, Benjamin Roy.
BR: Thank you!  Please, call me BR.  Daddy John says you like marine animals.
Stephen Orange:  Oh, yes!  I'd like to study then when I get older.  I have toy stuffed Whale Shark that I brought with me, but he's still packed.  
Pete:  I have a book about the Loch Ness Monster if you'd like to see it.

And with that, they were off and running and chatting away.  I think it may take a little while, but our family is coming together.  We took a family photo to commemorate the event and even got Annabelle to sit still long enough for one.

We returned home from our walk and had sodas on the patio.  They were still discussing the Loch Ness Monster...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Searching For Signs Of Spring

Daddy Steve:  Spring officially started almost two weeks ago, but here in Gregoropolis you would be hard pressed to find sign of it.

Yesterday Blake and Sebastian ventured out in the yard to explore.  So far there's not much to see, although they found that the sedum was just beginning to poke out of the ground.

Sebastian:  It looks like a tiny cabbage.

Over the winter, the squirrels (Daddy Steve's arch-enemies) made a shambles of the burlap we cover the boxwood with to protect it.  Actually, it was such a mild winter that it probably wasn't even necessary.  Still, those squirrels....

Blake:  Those squirrels certainly make a mess!

The Apollo statue is still covered with his plastic tarp.

Sebastian:  He's looking rather stern.
Blake:  I suppose it's not very dignified spending the whole winter wrapped in plastic.

Last stop on the backyard recon was the magnolia tree we planted just last spring.  We're really hoping that those velvety buds turn into beautiful flowers.

Blake wanted to search for twigs to use as Harry Potter magic wands, but the boys decided it would be better to wait until warmer and drier weather.

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Case of the Worrys

Daddy John:  A nice day for a change, so I sent Benjamin Roy out to take Annabelle for a walk.  They were both getting a touch of cabin fever.

I was surprised not to see Peter tagging along; usually he and BR are joined at the hip (and he adores Annabelle).  I found him upstairs, sitting in the blue chair and staring out the window.

Daddy John:  Hey buddy, what's going on?
Pete Dakota:  Hi, Daddy John.  I was thinking about some stuff.  Can I ask you something important?

Pete Dakota:  Is a new boy coming to live with us?
Daddy John:  Yes, he is.  How did you know that?
Pete Dakota:  I guessed when you said on the postcard that there was a surprise.  And I overheard you and Daddy Steve talking about him.
Daddy John:  Well, that'll teach me little pitchers have big ears.  I was going to talk with you and BR about him tonight, actually.  Pete, are you worried about the new boy?

Pete Dakota:  A little.
Daddy John:  Why, buddy?
Pete Dakota: (whispering) What if BR likes him better than me?
Daddy John:  Oh, Pete...that's never going to happen.  You and BR are best friends and I doubt anything could separate you two.  I know if you always treat BR with kindness and respect like you always do --and he does the same to you--nothing bad will ever happen.  Yes, things are going to change when Stephen Orange gets here, but only for the better.
Pete Dakota:  That's his name?  Stephen Orange?  Almost like Daddy Steve's.
Daddy John:  That's right, their names are similar.  Remember how nervous BR was when he joined our family?  And how you two got along right away?  I know you will all get along and be friends.
Pete Dakota:  Do you really think so?
Daddy John:  I know it.  In fact, you know what might help break the ice?
Pete Dakota:  What?
Daddy John:  Well, Stephen Orange really likes animals and he especially likes mysterious animals.  I bet if you showed him your book about the Loch Ness Monster, he'd really like that.

Pete Dakota:  Oh, that's a neat idea.  I'd like that, too.
Daddy John: Good.  Feel better?
Pete Dakota:  Yes, I do.  A little.  When does he come?
Daddy John: Not for a couple weeks yet.  Shall we go find BR and Annabelle and tell them about him?
Peter Dakota:  Okay.  Then I'd better find my book and have it ready.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Daddy John:  It's Girl Scout cookie season here and we indulged.

Pete Dakota:  Yay!  My favorite!
Benjamin Roy:  Thanks, Daddy John!
Frank:  What do you mean I can't eat them all now?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Doll for Patrick

Daddy Steve:  Patrick is a very studious boy.  He's always on a quest for more knowledge.  Lately, he had been reading all of our favorite blogs very intently.

Patrick:  So, what's everybody up to now?

After some careful consideration, he approached me with a request.

Patrick:  I think I should like to have a doll of my own.
Daddy Steve:  Oh?
Patrick:  Yes.  If I had a doll, I could read to him and teach him all sorts of things.  We could take tea together and have interesting conversations.  He would be my special friend.  After all, Sasha has his teddy; I know they have long discussions.

Sasha:  Come along, Teddy.  Daddy John asked us to fold the tea towels.  I will show you how.

Patrick:  Kaveh talks to his trains.

Kaveh:  Choo-choo, Bash!

Being the goodhearted parent that I am, I readily agreed.  So, we started looking for a doll.

Patrick:  He must be a friendly fellow, with a good personality.  Oh, and red hair would be nice, too.

After a fair amount of searching, we thought we had found the perfect one.  We ordered him and waited.  And waited.  Patrick can be quite impatient, although he tries hard not to be.  The other boys were sympathetic.

Patrick:  Argh!  He's never going to come!
Kaveh:  It's hard to wait for things.
Rolf:  Ja, ja.  Especially vhen you're small.  It makes the vait seem so much bigger.
Bowie:  I certainly thought I'd never get my guitar.

Finally, a few days later...

Giancarlo:  Hey Patrick!  You have a package!

Patrick quickly tore open that package and...

Patrick:  Oh boy!

I think we all know that feeling.

Patrick loves his new doll.  He's named him 'Herbert' and together they do all of the things Patrick imagined they would.

Special note: Herbert is an Erna Meyer doll and I think he looks exactly like a Course doll.  He's designed for 1/12 scale dollhouses.  In Sasha scale, however, we think he's perfect!