We clutched our dimes tightly as we walked toward Main Street. I had offered to carry Veloy’s for her. After all, she was only four and I was seven. But she wouldn’t let me. A dime was the most money mama had ever given us to spend just for fun. “After you go to the library,” she had said, “you can get a toy, an ice cream cone, or anything you want. Be good girls and don’t forget to wear your straw hats. That sun is hot today.”
Ten cents! We each had ten cents! We could buy any toy in the world with ten cents. And maybe if we had enough money over we’d even get an ice cream cone.
The big glass door at Ben Franklin’s was heavy as I pushed all my weight against it. Veloy and I hurried to the toy aisle. What a sight! There were bean shooters, and bubble-blowing stuff, and water pistols—everything was bright red or yellow and smelled like a birthday party.
About halfway down the aisle I stopped. There were the tiniest china dolls I had ever seen. And they were only a dime. I had a dime. Forget the ice cream cone!
I gingerly picked one up and cradled it in my hand. Her arms and legs moved. I made her legs go back and forth like she was walking.
I could make a formal for her out of the lace from my old nightgown and a sun dress from that red polka-dot material left over from my “Strawberry Day” dress.
But my dreams were interrupted by a crashing sound. That lovely china doll was on the floor broken into pieces. I picked them up as fast as I could and stuck them under my straw hat. Flushed and trembling, I reached for another doll and tried to pretend it had never happened.
But the broken doll weighed heavily upon my head.
I could feel someone looking down at me. It turned out to be Mr. Cullimore, the store manager. He told me to take off my hat, and I could feel him lift the pieces of doll off my head.
Mr. Cullimore took my dime and the broken doll and walked away. I forgot my sorrow about breaking the doll and felt shame at having tried to hide it.
I kept my head down because Daddy was a bishop and Mr. Cullimore might know Daddy. And I hoped he didn’t know I was almost eight and going to be baptized soon.
Veloy gave me her dime. I took the other doll and paid for it as we hurried out. Neither Veloy nor I said a word all the way home.
I never played with that doll. She never had a lace formal nor a polka-dot sun dress. I still have her in an old wooden box in my drawer. I still have the lesson in my heart.