The other day, my mom unearthed something she’d saved in a cedar chest for about half a century. It was a handmade gift, presented to me in my childhood, by a family friend who leased and showed one of our horses.
The gift: A Barbie-sized horsehead sweater (plus matching pants and hat), the miniaturized version of a hand-knit sweater style that was super-popular in the early 1960s.
(Some versions depicted a running horse, or a specific breed, or other motif, but their shape and styling were the same.)
The friend: Bev Wenger, from Fargo, North Dakota. She lived and worked in town, but drove regularly out to our farm to ride. This meant she usually had four horse-crazy kids around at all times, pestering her for help and attention with their own horses.
The leased horse: An Appaloosa gelding named Baldy Sox. As far as we kids knew, Baldy belonged to our Grandma Smith, whom we’d never seen on a horse. We’d also never seen such a thing as a gelding without a job—that was inconceivable. It made perfect sense to us, therefore, that Bev paid Grandma a small amount every month to ride Baldy. It’s how he earned his keep.
I remember getting the knitted Barbie outfit from Bev when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. It seemed wondrous even then, when handmade Barbie outfits were more the norm rather than the exception.
I must have gotten instructions to be extremely careful with it, for it still looks just like new. My mom is known to be a careful saver of mementos, and she had a real treasure put aside with this one.