DescriptionTinker Walker (94) talks to her son Harold Walker II (62) about her best friend "Beebaw" her rag doll, while she was growing up after the loss of both her parents & how after losing her beloved doll as a child, 60 years later she saw her again when she least expected it.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Harold Walker (II)
Recording LocationsDallas Public Library: North Oak Cliff Branch
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00:00 And I'm second and then I'll ask you to tell your story about.
00:08 Okay. I am Tinker Walker and I'm 94 and I've had lots of interesting things in my life. But this is one story that I have really enjoyed and I think you will see the high. I'm Harold Walker on the son of tinker and it says I'm 62 years of age and it's Sunday, November 2nd 2019, and we're in Dallas, Texas recording for storycorps.
00:36 Tell Mom.
00:38 Tell us about your amazing story about your doll Bebop. Absolutely. I will do that. I have to tell you apart at the first part of the story is a little bit sad, but we feel it's necessary for you to understand where the rest of it. I was born in 1925 in Buffalo New York. And when I was four 1929 my father took his own life and my mother left so that meant my brother who is a year older than I and I were we're kind of is now in effect. But in those days they didn't send children to orphanages as much as they might later but at that particular time, they pass around from family to family and the family in the family. So and that was not a good plan if it was not a happy Pleasant loving life.
01:38 Free either one of us, but particularly for me.
01:44 I grew up. Well messy, I grew up and I got married and we travelled quite a bit for my husband's business and I we ended up in Texas and that was 60 some-odd years ago. I used to have somebody gave me a ragdoll this one.
02:15 Little doll
02:18 And because of the situation I dearly love this doll. She was my companion. I would take her everywhere with me. She even went to bed with me at night. I just did everything with her. She meant met a great deal to me.
02:41 Well that we have one of these old things here. Okay.
02:47 In night when I was 10 years old, we had we had moved a number of times and in our living with our four children and
03:05 So when you were 10 years old you moved, right and then and you and your brother were together moving from family to family and you I think you're about to say about your doll at how he may be lost it that correct. Yes. Thank you. And it did it was very unusual because she was so close a companion to me, but for some reason or other she just disappeared and of course, we had travelled off or moved often enough that I knew that that possibly would happen. And and so I was very careful with her, but if she still just was gone, so as I said earlier, I grew up and got married and we moved to We have basically moved to Texas and I
04:01 It's sick. 60 years later 600 years later a friend of mine in Arlington Texas asked if I would like to go to Waco Texas to see some historic homes, and she was going with Arlington Women's Club and I was delighted. Oh, yes, I like to do things like that. So we we we hopped on the bus and away. We went we got down to Waco and I got off the bus and went into the historic home and into the toy room and who's seated in the corner on a chair, but Viva and I am going oh, oh, oh, I can't believe that's Bebop and I went over and threw up and hugged her and just where I was just ecstatic.
04:55 So I kept begging them to give please give me Bebop. What can I do to have that doll? It means so much to me. They kept telling me that that know she was amusing piece and she could not be sold or given away or anything like that was just impossible. So this went on for about six months and finally I die. They called me on the phone and told me I could come and get Bebo that they would need that would be okay, but I had to do such and such and of course I did do what they wanted me to do just to have the doll.
05:35 So when I got down there to pick her up, the gentleman that was from the museum director said now, you need to know a few things about me, but he said most dogs are registered. This doll was registered. She was made in the New York state area. She was made in 1929. And I said that's when I told you he said he said there were only 20
06:06 How's those dolls made and do the 20 dolls one of them somehow?
06:15 Paintball crossover 1200
06:19 Miles miles
06:22 I don't know how and I don't have any idea how she got to Waco. I've never been to Waco. But that one time I was just absolutely amazed that I finally had the ball again and how the body got there. I decided must have been the good Lord thing doing it for me cuz it meant a great deal to me. Now. The only dogs are $20 and that's all and when you think about it, it was a ragdoll how a ragdoll would last for 60 years.
06:58 I know the one that that they had in the Waco Museum was probably not mine Original Doll but it was it was my dog. Now the Ethel August people always say to me. What do you still have the doll? Well, my husband and I had entered a senior citizen housing arrangements and when we made that tripping and moved out of our regular home. I was a concerned that something would happen to be ba in all the trips every time you move. It seems like you lost something and so I decided I would give her to somebody I felt very dear about and that was my granddaughter be up. And so I ask Mia if bball could come live with her.
07:52 Mia in the meantime had attended the University of Assisi France is France and and so she was living in Germany and she and her husband and their little girl named Mia know the little girl was named Mia. My granddaughter was named and and so I gave it to Andrea and ask her please would she give me at home as long as she could and perhaps the pass it down to another child and I was going to try to write a story about it so that it would be permanent for the my great-grandchildren.
08:36 3 good questions
08:42 Why did let me tell you this? I think I'm attracted to tell you that Andrea was in Germany one time and she was coming back to the States for a holiday. And so she and I escaped and talked about tape bringing.
08:58 Bee balm with her and so we decided when beat when I first got B&B babak she had some places on her face that has it had gotten a little bit thin and I decided I'd better replace that and I did and when I had the upper part of her face open, I put an I love you heart and her so we decided when we were talking about bringing her back to the states that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea because it happened to be that. Of time in the United States when they were very fussy about whatever came into the states on an airplane or whatever can be convinced and I was afraid maybe if they
09:45 X-ray the doll to see if there was anything in it, which would be possible thing is that time that it would they would wonder what it was and would think that there was something dangerous about it. So I acid read the police keep deebot home. I wanted to be safe. So that's that's my home in Germany as we speak exactly sitting on a shelf in in great-granddaughter. And Mia will now have a dog to have a story about I have actually given the doll to me about you and Bianca play with it and Andrea has it in the glass display box and it was really a very moving occasion for me. I could not believe it when I saw that the doll.
10:39 That's amazing story. Mama. I always get a kick out of listening to it. Thank you. I appreciate that. So many how is my son? I guess you would be her uncle right?
11:00 Oh, okay. Well, let's see. What else can we talk about Mom?
11:06 That was the main reason why we're here is to talk about your dog. I think that was a always Amazing Story.
11:17 Tell us a little bit about your your childhood.
11:24 Well, it was old and now I know what I want you to talk about talk about the you have a great.
11:35 Great grandfather or a great my great-grandfather that was in the silent movies, correct? And how many movies over a hundred? I have a tray recall from the newspaper when he passed away and he he had made they had list the money they had over a hundred movies. He actually at that particular time people that were in the movies didn't use a regular their own name. They would take a false name and I just right at the moment. I can't tell you what that was. But I as I say I do have been a.m.
12:13 Obituary column of all of his travels and so forth and he had kind of a fun way of him of displaying himself. He he he lived in Minneapolis and he would go to he had a clothing Factory built made men's clothes and so he would go to New York City to buy fabric and very often so well, he was there one day he was in a bar one evening and somebody approached him in and I'm sorry, I can't think of his name but he how it was a well-known producer of movies and the approach great-grandfather and he said to would you I'm looking for somebody who looks very dignified to be in the movies. Could you do that for us? And of course it was very early in their actions. So he said yeah he do that so so he didn't quite a quite a few times, but he didn't tell his family and so when
13:13 First movie came to Minneapolis. He suggested that they all go down and see that movie and they did and there they are sitting in the audience and that was their father up there on the screen on the screen while and then wasn't it that on their on their 25th wedding anniversary. They had all kinds of letters and Western Union notices from Calvin Coolidge president has well, Karen has copies of The Originals of the Western Union from Calvin Coolidge and Gloria Swanson. Remember that name and what are the other names back in the movie stars from that era?
14:07 Oh golly. I die. I know we are going to mention that I would have broke for a while. I actually had copies of the movie said he was in and when we still we had we took movies of our children when they were small and and look at a kind of movies that reproduce that we that I bought so that I could see what he did were kind that we can use on that real if it had a call. Right right. I remember it. But anyhow Union in the end letters of congratulations on their aunt 25th anniversary Disney, there's a 50000. I'm sorry the 50th wedding anniversary and what was
15:07 We have a picture of party that they gave for them which also included all the movie stuff. But the picture I must be maybe 3 to 3 years old 3 years old and I'm sitting on his lap by brother is sitting on his other knee and and then all of the family the women not the men were in the picture behind them. It's it's it's it's tonight. Please cracked. Yeah, everybody's all dressed up and it was always thought that was a very interesting part of your life. I definitely agree with you.
15:54 Bad and we we traveled a great deal in the last 20 years of our life because your dad had business over and everywhere. We traveled Ben and Lauren Russia and China. And even when we were in China is it that he didn't realize it but in that put weight in Beijing the children to wear diapers now, maybe they did another parts of China, but they didn't that they and Harold picked up a little boy and put him on a show a little boy wet them, but we saw a lot of interesting things and it was still a safe time to travel around Europe after Desert Storm.
16:43 I had to be over in Harnett Middle the Middle East and what was the having a senior moment Kuwait in and we all saw the bombed-out shelters. And then you were you were their dad was there replacing fire pumps that was his business is fire pumps at four buildings in until there was lots of times that we had to be replaced. And that's the reason why you were over there right after that war. Remember they said the oil fields on fire and I remember driving past them and seeing the smoke still coming out of them then it was interesting. Yeah. Well, we are in talisay India. We are in India and that was kind of a fun thing. We have three finished his job. He suggested that we take that train ride to
17:45 Oh, I forgot the name of the of where we went video. We went to we lived fifteen hundred miles on this train that was a tourist train. And at one point they stopped the train and they said no they wanted anybody that wanted you to come get on some camels and right down into the desert and have champagne as the sun was going down. So that's what we did. So I climbed up on the camel and ice after I got up there and I was observing other people. I thought I better hang on to something cuz when that Camel comes up, it comes up with a jar. And so I done something to hang onto it was the wrong thing cuz he stood up I fell over his head into the grantor the sand and the men that were helping us were all single lady that old lady feel like I wasn't an old lady. I was only 60 years.
18:45 Nobody remembers about when we were in Russia.
18:49 Right, right, and we went on a small River Cruise after his job is and the captain came on at one point and said that that the small towns along the Russia on the way to Moscow. That's why they made some of their extra money by putting on performances. So we did that we watch that and then afterwards he said would you all like some ice cream ice cream in Northern Russia's way out in the country? Okay, so they put us on the bus and took us into a nearby little town and the little town had them absolutely amazed. It's cuz we drove up in front of a Tom and Jerry of Ben & Jerry ice cream store.
19:35 You wouldn't expect that in Russia, but we went in and the first person order chocolate. She got vanilla the next person orders strawberry and they got for now and the next person ordered something else and they got vanilla. That's all they had. So for years later, we were in Boston and there was a Ben & Jerry's ice cream store were so I went in and there was a big sign on the enlarged sign of a the story about Ben and Jerry was going to teach Russia there was more than one flavor of ice cream is interesting and I thought oh my God, she didn't make it to take it slow.
20:20 Anyhow wait, we just had it was wonderful and Harold took me with him.
20:26 Didn't we just we just felt when we are in Ecuador. We went to a restaurant one night that somebody had suggested to us. And when we got in there sat down there wasn't anybody else in the restaurant but us and there was no menu you could you just took what they served you. So I asked the waiter will what kind of bee is is he said it was Jungle meat. Isn't that the story from Ecuador? Oh and that's what you're talking about. I thought you said rush. I'm sorry in Ecuador. Is that guy? I agree. I was going to bring that up. So the jungle me so what happened to be the jungle made any monkeys that I couldn't help but wonder if it weren't much GB I'd never did get a straight answer from a mother fabulous. I thought that it was very little that was really we just saw so many.
21:26 Things and it was a peaceful time so to speak and that part of the world and we can go places and not be frightened or worried or
21:36 Which now, I don't know whether you could do that. But anyhow, it was wonderful. I really enjoyed it.
21:44 Can you tell us the story about when you about Kaylee making a video and you really enjoyed being in the video Gerald's daughter is in the music industry and so before she when she was in college and I believe it was their senior years had to produce music production. And she just did she really did she did a beautiful job, but she included both grandfathers herb Kim her mother's father and my husband and myself and I had to wear a tutu because she was supposed to dance YouTube mind you I was like 8988 or something like that. Anyhow, it was fun because she had a different wolf scenes. We had a poker set.
22:44 Add another point there were just she just did a remarkable job and it was fun. And I love dancing in the tutu. I could still walk pretty good. But that the video really had to do with that. I take off of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off and it what was it called in senior citizens?
23:08 Shake It Off shake it off and it still on YouTube. Yes still onto YouTube and go on YouTube.
23:25 Will the see if when I was?
23:29 When I was a little girl course, I was kind of disturbing little girl. But anyhow, we lived with an aunt when it went white and I was seven I guess seven video. They had a flat roof on their backyard on their first floor dining room and and a kitchen.
23:48 And so I walked in my sleep and I climbed up by Brothers window and I walked across the roof. I can I actually felt the gutters on my face turned around and went over and knocked on my aunt's window and can you imagine her reaction kill for your eyes and there's a stool child looking in the window on the second second second story of this of your house in Buffalo was it is this in winter? But that was a year that I went. No, I was I was at the fifth grades on this occasion. I don't remember it was the same here. But now when I went into the fifth grade in there, they have put me in a prokaryote school. Cuz every time we've moved someplace ever be taken to move in another family. It would just be all different weed start all over the school. So
24:48 That's it.
24:52 I got was in the fifth grade classroom the nun left the room and when she left the room guess who got up and ran around and erected around the room and I finally caught the pedestal of a
25:08 Display something on my foot and not go to the Virgin Mary and smashed. Anyhow, we we just have lots of your dad was very we we used to love to Camp. Remember that smaller and then I slept in our big 10, which was a very big and the popular on the pup tanning and one night. We woke up and we looked out the screen of the 10th. We were in
25:47 I don't know either call it a Covey or what it was. But anyhow there about 25 skunks little boy right in front of the 10 and I'm kissing at the kids in the next step.
26:06 Being how we didn't wait. There was no problem with that, but they went away. I don't know. That's funny.
26:23 And you are married today at 68 years, and he passed in 2015.
26:31 I lost 20 lbs. How about that thing I making something out of a real bad situation. I really I missed him if he was a really a wonderful husband.
26:45 When I was growing up I used to say I was not going to marry anybody that smoked or drank or I'll go slowly other girls, but I got it. So anyhow, but he he was willing to try anything in the course. I was I you know, I was an adventure but but we did we did see how many many we were in France and Paris and the Eiffel Tower. I wouldn't go up to the very top layer, cuz it was it was
27:20 It was so high but in yard didn't like that, but we went to all the things that you go to in Paris and
27:30 We even saw in the in the bottom.
27:35 But most of the Paris important buildings, I understand have rooms that are are underground and that were used during the war by military people to talk back and forth also, and there was one area where the Germans were in one end and then go long-distance off. But in the same time the French were in the other room, we saw that
28:05 We just saw a lot of things not only that but you were a teacher for 15 years and I got a master's degree work done and you are very creative making the family all kinds of things that closed and now that my my husband passed away. I I desperately needed something to keep my mind. So I started making
28:33 Play Spank blankets fleece blankets and I made 90 of them in the first two years and I gave every one of them away. And since I've been at this new old folk song I've made several in it. And I really get it profound pleasure out of surprising somebody and giving up giving them a brand new bike at them and they're really nice. So that's been a pleasure for me.
29:05 But with my vision now becoming so impaired.
29:10 And I'm getting older.
29:13 Did I just can't do as much but I still try to do what I can make all kinds of into and put them in plastic bags. And you do what maybe 300 or 400 a week and these forks and color ER for lunches for the homeless teenagers exactly a lunch all week. It's called New Day and it's it's a program for teenagers aged kids that don't have a meal and that is amazing. But it do.
30:02 You know that calorie for it cuz it I've gotten to the point where my hands are numb and we've had a Peep had a blessed life of me when I was in high school. You made that two men horse remember that I do I do. I was just a wild idea. We wanted to be a mascot. So to speak for the football team and you made us at my friend and I are two man horse costume out of material and then the Head was made out of like ceramic or something.
31:02 Green and white, but that was a lot of fun.
31:06 Women are you appreciate it? Thank you. And when I took the children out the little ones out for lunch. I used to always have dessert first and they still do this. They are all grown and have children, but they remember dessert first and it was interesting to me how the waitresses did not approve that I would get stoned.
31:34 We've had a busy busy life.
31:42 And I I left out a lot of them. I mean stuff that happened and I carried some of those emotional scars with me, but you all have understanding help me with it. I appreciate that.
31:59 You're welcome.
32:03 I love you. I love you too, Mama.
32:09 She questions if you don't mind.
32:14 Tinker if you can
32:16 You're open to talking more about growing up without your parents and what that was like for you.
32:22 The no problem. I would I
32:26 Course, they didn't tell us that my
32:33 Set my grand father.
32:38 And committed suicide and I didn't find that out until I was maybe almost 10.
32:46 My aunt my mother was a very beautiful woman but used alcoholic.
32:53 And I think it's important to realize that there was a great deal of money in the family. So that was not a problem, but because of its she was able to and when she she had an apartment after my father died and my in she hired of teenage babysitter and that was who you're with the first year. We were married or we were orphaned at one point they wanted to
33:22 Find somebody that would adopt me but they wouldn't adopt my brother and the judge wouldn't allow them to separate us. So they had to take me back and they really didn't they really didn't like me because not because of my behavior but because
33:42 They thought that I was
33:44 Not my father's child. I was cuz I had a I had a blood test at one point and I definitely was a member of the family, but they it was hard. I was alone most of the time that was YB bottle is so important to me.
34:05 They were just lots of things and the worst part of it at all. Is it I have grown up with scars of not being able to meet and make friends with people and I've always been a loner I had series of depression and it's all a star from that but because I did choose somebody will he wasn't Catholic and I was and that was another problem that the family just never had any much to do with me after I married him but he was a wonderful man and he had all the qualities I wasn't looking for it. I was very happily married for a long long time, but the cart stars are still there. So
34:56 That bout it there were just what you would expect.
35:03 Talked about how
35:08 What role you thought that Bebop played in your life then and when you look back now kind of how how UCB ba she was very definitely my friend Interest really about the only friend I had cuz I was sick elected that I just really
35:29 From H4 to app incorrect. Well, it's when you lost her and then she was huggable doll. She just and I desperately needed somebody like that. I desperately needed somebody and so and I met this gentleman we married and of course there are only two or three people at the wedding and because it was a non-catholic to write or he wasn't Catholic why we
36:05 Couldn't be married in the church. We couldn't have flowers. We couldn't admit it. Was it 68 years and a thousand times. Do you love me? Do you really love me? And that wasn't necessary. I know you love me. I just couldn't.
36:27 It's it's still a stenciled Securities. Will it still struggle since you know he passed away?
36:36 There's a song side by side and when he was sick, I sang that to him everyday, I would go down to the be at the hospital when he was there.
36:52 I've had a I've had a lot of fun and seen a lot of things in life has been interesting to me. Very interesting.
37:03 But there's always been that underlying.
37:18 Other Bieber what were you thinking or you can believe it? I just couldn't believe it. And I I remember I open my I just couldn't believe it that there. She was how she got there and it almost had to be like God.
37:42 I accepted the fact I had no proof either way, but I accepted the fact I guess I didn't want to take a chance on my thinking it I don't know it was I just accepted the fact that it probably wasn't and it probably wasn't I don't even know how she got from Buffalo River where it is a real and that it wouldn't let a dog would last 60 years and I've tried to write a book about it and I Illustrated it.
38:24 But there's been several people.
38:27 They have wanted to take the book and make it something that they would drive and it wasn't your story is to have your story.
38:42 Depot grill
38:44 Yeah, cuz it wasn't it, LOL.
38:52 A friend of mine a woman
38:56 Says that her granddaughter needed a summer project in school and would I mind very much she knew that I was interested in writing this book.
39:09 When I mind very much if if I talked to her and she did something with it would be very good Training for her and she would enjoy it and give her something to doing. Okay. What am I feelings? Is it on very quick to give things to people I shouldn't have but I did and she she Illustrated in and she she wrote the story until fourth, but she didn't it didn't sound at all like me and what I had wanted really was where I'm talking to my great-grandchildren and I'm telling this amazing story about a little doll. And so that kind of balloon did and she actually what it has something out for lunch one day and they had had put into a book there was a hardcover books and their illustrations it it's it's beautiful, but it isn't my book. It's not my story.
40:07 In the way, I would so anyhow, it's because of my vision. I can't I can't read what's on the paper and I can't do much with it myself and I have another friend that wants to take the book and write it cuz it is his a good story and
40:27 But she's very controlling and she she changes everything and she and my nature is not that I can argue with her about it. So I just put it away and haven't done anything with it.
40:42 Appreciate this opportunity. Did you say you were going to make a recording of this?
40:58 Being recorded now, okay.