The Toy Shop

I must be honest; the following Alternate Reality spacetime slip is one of my favorites.  As a firm believer in angels, though, I wonder if—rather than a TWIDDER—what Kathleen S. experienced was heavenly help.  Either way, I’m so very glad she had the encounter she did, and that we can read about it!  (Original post at

My story takes place in January, 1999, when my daughter Adele was 7 months old, in Astoria, Queens, New York City. When I was first married, we didn’t have much money. Living in a basement apartment, sometimes I had to pass lonely hours while my husband was at work, yet we were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Adele, although she was anything but an amiable child.

Our daughter was fussy and colic-ridden, which was to say she had gas attacks that caused her to scream a lot, and was not easily pleased. All the activities I could think up for a day were never enough.

So it was on a blustery January afternoon when she was 7 months old that I decided to walk her in her stroller, although the weather was overcast, in an attempt to find something to satisfactorily occupy her mind.

As I headed down Ditmars Blvd., which was the main drag of the town, she quickly rejected the left side of the street by making sounds of displeasure. I crossed her over to the right side, aware that once beyond the small outdoor grocery, there was not much on the street to occupy her. Sure enough, after the grocery, we began a long walk down only the sides of brick apartments, which rose high into the air, cutting off the light from the sidewalk. Yet she was strangely quiet.

Enjoying the quiet, I walked her all the way to the end, which was about 20 blocks beyond our apartment. When I got to the end, I made a right turn, which was the only option, and came into view of a long, long brick wall with nothing going on. I decided to walk with her next to this wall, hoping there would be a right turn at the end and a way for me to double back.

Oddly enough, halfway down, about three blocks, there was a little metal doorway. imagesI strollered her up to it and beheld a sign with stick-on letters that said “Toy Depot”. I opened the door and was shocked to see a large room full of metal shelving containing toys the like of which I had never seen: Dolls from every television show she treasured, low tables with attractive packages containing everything from miniature kitchens to boxed activities. The baby was delighted.

An old man sat behind a low counter off to one side. As I gingerly made my way along the first aisle, he said, “Nice to see you. Have a look. See if you can find something she likes.”
About halfway down the aisle, my daughter let out a squeal of joy. She had noticed a carousel, about the circumference of a dinner plate, with all the horses decorated and a knob on top. I put it in her hands and she turned the knob and the horses began to go around to the most delightful music.

I took it from her and turned it over, wondering how much such a wonderful toy must cost. The price tag said $6.99. I thought it must be a mistake, but I rolled her to the counter and looked in my purse. I purchased the wonder with a ten dollar bill (my only money for the week) and took my change.

“Oh,” said the old man. “I see she found something. Have a good day then.”

As I rolled her out the door and made a left to find the corner again, she continually turned the knob and watched the horses, chortling with joy every time a new one went by. All the way the whole long walk home, she was delighted by the toy.

When we got home, she settled on the carpet with the carousel and I made dinner, accompanied only by the sound of her laughing each time the music played, and none of the usual fussing or screaming. It was like a vacation. Every day after we found that toy, she and I, she was a gloriously different little girl. She was happy. No more fussing. Like a miracle. When her father came home, he could not believe that such a beautiful toy had been so affordable.

Many weeks later, when the season was more gentle, I decided to take her back to that toy depot. I took the long walk with her in her stroller down the length of the town and made the right turn. I went quite a distance, but this time I did not find any door in that brick wall, nor anyplace where a door had been bricked up. The toy store simply was not there.
I walked the length of the brick twice, and no door, no store, no old man. I have always wondered what it was exactly that made all this happen, but I have been forever grateful.


About aloholmes

We live in a wondrous universe, and I love learning about it. Spacetime slips are one facet of existence that fascinate me. As a retired teacher I enjoy researching this topic and sharing the information I garner.
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