Investigating Old Stuff on the Internet With Laura Hazard Owen

by Laura Hazard Owen

Facebook lame-os love to post statuses like “Wishing they still made snap bracelets…lol…random,” a definite indication that they were the mean girls in elementary school, plus I’m pretty sure you can now buy snap bracelets at Urban Outfitters. But what happened to the real old cool stuff? An internet investigation.

Baby Shivers: “Your love will keep her warm”

My mom took me to FAO Schwartz as part of a mother-daughter day in the city, and that’s where I first saw and developed a panicky I-have-to-have-this-now toy-crush on Baby Shivers. She “shivered” until you cuddled her (you can watch this old commercial for her here), but what I was into was the fact that she looked like a real newborn. My mom said, “Ask Santa for her!” It was pretty close to Christmas, thank God, and I got Baby Shivers and loved her and named her Tristen, after my coolest second-grade friend. I carried her around and tried to trick people into thinking she was a real baby, and I kept the shivering switch in her back permanently turned off. A thing I learned from my internet research (which takes a little doing: Google “baby shivers” and one of the top results is, interestingly, “I’ve seen her get pee shivers when she is going in the potty”): You had to remove her head to insert more C batteries, and people loved the way she smelled. She did smell good — like canned vanilla frosting. Can she be found today? She is not on eBay, though somebody has posted a want ad for her there (“Am interested in any doll that has an intact left arm or a whole doll”). She’s also in my parents’ basement, but you can’t have her.

Non-Racist Markers

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they still make these, except it’s conceivable that Crayola could be one of those companies now owned by a shady Tea Party-funding corporation. However, here are the Multicultural Markers, $4.49 at Office Depot. I liked to draw classrooms full of kids at school (like if I now drew pictures of my office in my spare time?), and liked to make them all the different marker races — which, I see now, are “tan, beige, tawny, golden beige, terra cotta, mahogany, and sienna.”

See-Through Mail-Away Frog

$17.95 on Amazon. This Amazon kit is actually for a tadpole, but my kit was for a small, translucent frog. I opened the kit at my third-grade birthday party and remember my mom sighing, loudly. Once this came up on Google, I immediately minimized my internet browser to see if I could remember all the things about the frog before the current Amazon description became tangled up in my memory once and for all, and here’s what I remembered: You opened your kit, filled out a form, and sent away for a frog, and it got mailed to you in a bag of water, alive, just in the regular mail. And it was about an inch and a half long and translucent. Could this really be what happened? YES, the Amazon reviews confirm it. Also, “We also received a ‘bonus’ frog in the mail with our order, which we did not ask for. Unfortunately, this frog was much larger than the one we had raised, and it ate our old friend one night while we were sleeping.” Old friend = other frog, I hope? I will conclude here by saying that only ignorant jerks give pets as gifts, and I don’t remember what happened to my frog, though I’d bet money on the fact that I named it either “Frog-y” or “Jump-y.”

So Unfindable I’m Wondering If I Dreamed Them

The Make-Your-Own Yogurt-Covered Raisins Kit is nowhere on Google. Too bad, because the kit was fun, and I made my raisins on our newspaper-covered kitchen table, wearing one of my dad’s old shirts. That definitely happened.

Also, a chapter book about a girl whose parents had quadruplets. She was really upset and bitchy about it, but my mom having quadruplets was my deepest desire. Second best, I wish I’d had four Baby Shiverses.

Laura Hazard Owen is a writer and editor living in Manhattan. She blogs lazily with her mom and brother at That Looks Cozy.