the great sewage disaster of 1969

I wasn’t a stupid child. I didn’t stick marbles in my nose, or forks into electrical sockets, and I didn’t write on walls with crayons.  For all my faults (conniving, ultra-serious, unpleasant, etc), I wasn’t a dummy. I would never have gone under the bathroom sink and drunk up all the Drano. I would never have pulled the loaded gun out of its unlocked cabinet and randomly started pushing on its buttons. My toys were hard and pokey, with pieces I could choke on, but I understood and respected the boundaries of the non-childproof home provided to me by my parents.

Therefore, what happened at the end of the Great Sewage Disaster of 1969 (the “climax” of the Great Sewage Disaster, as far as I’m concerned) … involving the little yellow ball that my Liddle Kiddles would throw back and forth at each other in their little blue  swimming pool … was as much of a shock to my dad, who witnessed the event, as it was to me, who perpetrated the event.

I had no rational explanation then, I have no rational explanation now. I was only four, but that didn’t matter. I wasn’t “that” kind of a child.

Here’s what happened: one very late Saturday night, our sewage system backed up, and filled the entire basement floor with three inches of wall-to-wall poop.  While this was a big problem for my parents, who had to clean up the mess, it was an even bigger problem for me: the basement is where all my toys lived, and my favorite toys at the time were two-inch tall Liddle Kiddle Dolls. I mention their height because it’s relevant: when you’re two inches tall and get three inches of poop dumped on you, you have a real cause for concern.

Now, in addition to the Liddle Kiddles themselves were two very important pieces of the Liddle Kiddle world: their little blue pool which came with a little yellow ball (mentioned above), and the absolute best toy I’ve ever owned in my entire life, a soft-plasticky three-unit Liddle Kiddle Kolony, with a cool little staircase the led to an outdoor rooftop patio. I don’t know what they put in plastic back then to make it smell so good … lead? … but the way that plastic smelled was indescribable. Sometimes I’d stick my nose into one of the rooms and just sniff.  Yum! With its twisty rooms, bright flower-power graphics, and hippy-chick feel, the Kolony was hands-down the most magical toy I’ve ever owned. EVER.

That morning, we awoke to a basement filled with poop. It was also a Church Day, but any hope that the disaster would have earned my sister and I the church equivalent of a school “Snow Day” was soon dashed. After arranging for our two maiden aunts, also avid church-goers, to take us home with them afterwards and keep us for the day, my parents – those lucky ducks – got to skip out of church and go home to clean up the mess.

“If you only save ONE THING,” I shouted at them as they drove out of the parking lot, “SAVE MY LIDDLE KIDDLE KOLONY!”  I think I even raised my right arm in a “rally the troops” kind of way, and shook it at them.  The Kolony had tricky rooms filled with hidden nooks and crannies and I knew it would be difficult to clean, but I didn’t really care about the details. Just get it done, guys! You can do it!

It was late at night when we were finally allowed home, well past our bedtimes.  We were all tired, especially me … I was emotionally worn out.  It had been a long day treasure-hunting for dimes, and eating Pear Salad and Strawberry Frappe with our kindly old aunts.

At this point in the story, everything else kind of just falls away, and becomes quiet, dark and foggy around the edges, like the way a dream sequence is sometimes portrayed in a sitcom.  My mom and my sister would have been there, I guess, but I don’t remember them.  It’s just me, walking sleepily through the garage door, and my father, who has just come up from the basement, holding in his hand my little yellow ball – the one the Liddle Kiddles throw around at each other in the pool.

I am so happy to see this little yellow ball that only a few hours before had been bobbing around in human waste that I am beside myself with joy.  The first known survivor of the toys!  In his hand, the ball looks yellower-than-life, lit from within, glowing, and I am so moved by its presence that after crying, “My ball! You saved my ball!” I get as close to the ball as I possibly can, not wanting to be separated from it ever again.

I do this by popping it directly into my mouth.  Pop! Directly into my mouth.

Even as I am committing this crime, I am personally horrified by what I’m doing.  I’m not the kind of girl who puts a dirty ball into her mouth as a means of showing it affection. 

It was so out of character, and so unexpected, that it caused two things to happen at once. It caused me to have the first out-of-body experience of my life, and it caused my father to immediately throw me over his shoulder and march me up to his bathroom.  As the “I” that was being carried upside-down on my dad’s shoulder was being jostled towards the bathroom, watching the steps fall away from us in an unfamiliar and dizzying manner, the “I” that was watching from above looked down, not really needing the lecture that was now being delivered by my father, but listening to it nonetheless.

It was only when the harsh antiseptic bolt of Listerine burned a cleansing fire around my mouth that I came back together to myself in one piece.

To this day, the ball-popping incident remains one of the great “why’s?” of my life.

Epilogue: I never saw my Little Kiddle Colony again.  I’ve searched for it on the internet, and have found other Liddle Kiddle Houses, but I know those houses, I had those houses too, but they’re not the same and I just can’t understand why there is absolutely no record of such a colony on any Mattel site anywhere. It’s as if it never existed, as if the Great Sewage Tragedy of 1969 wiped out not just MY Colony, but Kiddle Colonies worldwide, and I, for one, will never be the same. RIP, Liddle Kiddle Colony, RIP.

Epilogue 2: That is because, in the original post, I was spelling it as “Little Kiddle Colony,” with a “C,” but one of the commenters was kind enough to show me the error of my ways. It is actually spelled with a “K,” and I fixed that in the post.

This entry was posted in The Formative Years and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to the great sewage disaster of 1969

  1. Mari says:

    there are a couple of liddle kiddle kolony play houses listed on ebay now!!

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