“ Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.”
Years ago one of my many cousins(I have over 20 and that doesn’t include second cousins) had this adorable little wooden monkey hanging from her dresser mirror in her room.
I am not sure who actually owned the little monkey because there were three cousins sleeping in that room. There was a bump bed in one corner and a single twin sized bed in another. Three teenagers sharing a room and one of them was a boy. Imagine that. It was a three bedroom trailer in Apache Junction Arizona, so there wasn’t a whole lot they could do about that since they were a family of 7. Everyone had to share a room.
Anyway, there was also a wooden monkey that slept in the older cousin’s room. I was ten years younger then my cousin. I was about six. When I would visit I would always play with that little jointed monkey. Finally I just asked if I could have it. I figured what could it hurt anyway, best case would be she would say yes and worst case would be I am just back where I started, which was just visitation rights every now and then with the only toy worth playing with in their room.
My cousins had the coolest toys to me. They had barbie of course but they stopped playing with her before they became teenagers. They used these little perfume bottle dolls as Barbie’s baby. The little dolls had huge heads on tiny bodies. I have one from way back then. They were always dressed in bright clothes and had long hair or crazy hair styles with bows and sometimes tiny flowers. They came in little pockets shaped like pretty perfume bottles that you could wear. I loved their toys.
Growing up we all shared toys, clothes, furniture and whatever we were getting rid of. We always asked family first if they wanted these items, then friends and neighbors to finally it being donated to a church or second hand shop. I figured I ask for that monkey first before anyone got rid of it. unfortunately my cousin said no, but then I don’t blame her, that monkey was super cute. She was always very nice about sharing her items with us all, even letting me color some of of her Jungle doodle art poster once.
After getting turned down on the monkey, I decided I would go on a hunt for one myself. I did not realize how old that monkey was when my cousin had it, it was old back then. I thought I could just go to any store and buy one myself. You all know how stubborn a six year old can get. It’s at a time when we start stretching our legs and learning about our independence.
I remember walking into every store looking around for wooden monkeys, even asking sales clerks, only to be looked down on with a strange stare and usually the same answer my cousin gave me which was…NO, no wooden monkeys. I couldn’t find that monkey anywhere.
Frustrated, I finally gave up on the sales clerks, walking away grumbling to myself “I know there’s a monkey here somewhere, I’ll just find it myself”and searched the stores front to back looking everywhere for wooden monkeys. I never found one. I also never gave up on that monkey either. I was and still am a big lover of all creatures, I love my little furry animal friends.
Fast forward to 2020 and surprise of all surprises there was that monkey one day in a plastic bag hanging from a peg. I have been finding a lot cool items in those thrift store grab bags lately. I was so excited I didn’t even check to see what condition it was in before I bought it. My goodness I have been looking everywhere for this monkey, I thought to myself, and here it was in one of my favorite junk shops in a plastic bag along with other wooden items. Just took a few years to find him I guess.
When I got home and opened the bag I discovered my monkey was missing an ear. I searched everywhere around the bag thinking maybe it fell off in the bag and I could glue it back, but there was no ear anywhere.
Oh well, I thought to myself. This monkey has been around for many years and just like most humans once they reach a certain age, we all have bumps, bruises and sometimes even scars from life. I still was happy to have found one, even with a missing ear. We both had our life adventures out there in the world and now finally missing parts and all I would find my little monkey. What a life adventure we both had in all those years too. That missing ear just tells me he had a lot of fun at one time and things just got a little carried away.
The reason this little guy is so hard to find is because it is a pretty popular fella.The monkey was designed by a Danish man named Kay Bojensen. He was not only a designer but also a silversmith. He is mostly known for the wooden animals he designed with this little wooden monkey being his most popular item.This monkey is so popular that he was was even on exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum of London in the 1950’s. It’s considered a design classic.
The designer had two very creative parents and his mother was an artist herself. He was encouraged to be creative by both parents. One of his brothers would go on to become an artist and another sibling became a doctor.
Kay became a toy designer because his son was so rough on toys. He started designing sturdy wooden toys back in the 1920 that would hold up well. Or maybe toys were not made to last hmm…where have I heard this before. I love hand made toys for this reason alone, I know they are made to last and made from loving hands.
Anyway, Kay and his wife opened a shop in Bredgade close to Amalienborg Palace and while his wife worked the shop, he worked in the basement designing and working on new ideas. This reminds me of Santa’s toy shops.
Looking through some of his designs on line I have to say the Elephant comes in second place to my favorite being the monkey of course. Then there is the rabbit he designed which is also adorable. Sadly the rabbit was his last animal he designed before he died in 1957.But what a beautiful life he lived, doing what he loved and sharing that with the world.
Kay Bojensen designed over 2,000 wooden pieces. I was very happy to finally find this little monkey after all these years, better late then never as they say. I love the story behind this monkeys creator too.
So glad I was finally able to find one myself. I sewed up a little cap and scarf for my Monkey to cover his missing ear.
There was also a jointed wooden bear in the grab bag with the monkey.
There are some really cute wooden collectibles out there.
I love folk art, always have. Happy thrift store shopping everyone.