The earliest toy I can remember was a simple knitted "rag doll" style soft toy I called "Felix" that one of my parents' friends in England had made me.
My earliest memories are from when we first lived in Auckland, New Zealand when I was three and Felix was my constant companion. I don't know if we brought him overland with us when my parents drove their car halfway around the world from the UK to Aotearoa, or if it had been mailed out, but the one thing I do recall is that he was there and I have no memory of being given him.
In those days we lived in Takapuna and when I was four we moved to the East Coast Bays, Mairangi Bay was home, but my grandparents lived in Murray's Bay and the other bays were visited often enough for shopping or picnics. Back then this was an idyllic corner of NZ for kids. Like all children I had a vivid imagination and as everyone we knew seemed to live in a bay, I invented "Stingins Bay" (with a soft G sound) where Felix's father lived, and I was forever trying to find it. Looking back I have no idea why he didn't have a mother -- just one of those kid things, I guess. Being only a few km away we kept in touch with the next door family from Takapuna which was good as I had made good friends with their son who my own age.
We moved again when I was five, this time about 400km south to New Plymouth and in the summer holidays visited Auckland, including our old friends in Takapuna as well as the friends in Mairangi Bay.
Disaster Felix went missing! There was a search, but he could not be found and I could not be consoled. For weeks I was heartbroken.
Here's were it gets weirder. Several months later, Felix turned up, he'd been pushed down behind the sofa at the Takapuna friends house. He was returned to me, but the magic had been broken and I don't think I ever played with him again.
This would have been 1964 or 1965 and as Peter, Paul and as Mary sang a couple of years earlier in Puff, the magic dragon "Dragons live forever, but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys." I'd moved on and now had little room in my life for soft toys.
Looking back from forty-four years later it makes little sense that Felix should have been so important, perhaps we had him on the trip and it was that he had been my travel companion as we drove half way around the world, perhaps he just represented stability as as we moved three times before finding a permanent home in NZ. As I write this I find myself wondering what did eventually happen to Felix? I still have a wind-up toy from that same era, now no-longer working, but occupying pride of place above my desk at home.
Originally published on Qondio