Thursday, September 22, 2011

My First Collectibles: POGO (part one)

When I was five years old I lived in University City, Missouri. My parents had just moved us there from either Boston or Bloomington; I do not remember. St. Louis is the only city I can remember living in while I was young, although I was actually born in Illinois. I consider St. Louis my original "hometown" and I will get around to writing about it sometime, I promise. That isn't the point of this story, though. As the youngest of four kids, in 1969 I was the only one dragged with my mother whenever she went grocery shopping at the neighborhood IGA. (This was before we switched our allegiance to the A&P and then to Schnucks. That isn't the point of this story, either. I'm just trying to paint a picture of my life in 1969.)
There has been a lot of things written about your subconscious and your "buried" memories. I'm not sure if I agree with everything I've heard, but for the sake of this story I do agree with the gist of the theory, which is this: a song, a smell, an image, or any sensory input linked specifically to a memory can, when re-acquainted by the person in question, re-establish that memory link. I know this is true because that is what happened to me when I saw this and similar images for the POGO Character Dolls.  
 I hadn't thought about these POGO Character Dolls (as they are called on this box of BIZ) in years, literally. However when I came back to the US in 2001 and started surfing the internet and looking at ebay I suddenly came across these things and I began to remember dimly that I had these toys as a boy. Then more recently when I was looking into them to write about them on this blog I came across this image on the left and suddenly I was walking down the aisles of the IGA on North & South Rd in U. City gazing up at the boxes of BIZ and the bottles of DOWNY hoping that we could get all of the six characters. I want to say they also came attached to CASCADE, the dishwasher detergent, because my mother did not *use* BIZ or DOWNY, which makes this story a tragedy!! We did use something for sure....maybe SPIC & SPAN....and I remember bugging my mother to use more and more of it so that I could get a complete collection, haha! I know I somehow managed to get all six of them (shown below) because as an adult I went on ebay and managed to re-buy all six of them and I definitely can remember having them all as a kid! We had a huge back-yard when I was a kid (well, huge to me, anyway) and it was bordered by railroad ties in the gardens. This, to a 5-6-7 year old was definitely a swamp-like environment. Also I remember playing with them at bath-time. I am pretty sure I had GI Joes and Big Jims, and later Aquaman and the Super Friends, but first I had POGO.

I chose to use these photos I got off the internet rather than try to take a photo of my actual dolls for two reasons: 1. this photo at left makes them look like they are brand new, and I think mine *never* looked this good, haha, and 2. the photo on the bottom right shows them faded and worn, and that is how mine looked before I disposed of them. I have no idea what happened to them....I want to say I sold them at a garage sale, but I'm not sure....

As to the figures themselves, there is Pogo, of course. He is wearing his typical red & black striped shirt and his yellow fishing cap at an angle. Likewise Porky is wearing his red & black tartan hat and holding a big walking stick. Their heads rotate around on their necks. Howland can move his head as well as his left wing. I always thought he was posed to say, in all seriousness, "Well, in MY opinion..." or something else similarly bombastic! Churchy can move both of his hands and his head. He is either about to "strike a pose" or laugh, depending on how you move him around. He was one of my favorites because he's the most colorful: He has a bright yellow stomach, green legs and head, and an olive-green shell. All four of these characters are approximately the same height (about 4 1/2 inches); however, the last two, Albert and Beuregard, are both closer to 5 1/2 inches tall. (You can sorta see that in the bottom photo; Pogo is the smallest, and Albert and Beuregard are the tallest). Albert follows fellow reptile Churcy's lead in that he can move both his hands and his head. He has a red scarf around his neck and a cigar in his left hand (paw?claw?). Beuregard is like Howland, with one hand moveable and one hand on his chest as if he is about to pontificate. He's wearing his standard red & white striped shirt. 
As soon as I saw these dolls on the internet I knew I needed to re-acquire them. I couldn't get a whole set at one time, so I had to get them piecemeal. In fact, in order to re-acquire the whole set I ended up getting two Alberts. So if I ever do a blog contest I can offer him up as a prize....! Let me know if you're interested in this, haha.

Ever since I got them I have had them on my desk. At first they were standing on my large monitor (before it crashed) and now they are standing here on my desk. They watch over me as I work and serve as a reminder not to take life so serious. :-) 

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