At 73 years old, Maryl Traver is just now starting to get over never receiving a Betsy Wetsy doll as a child.
Betsy Wetsy “drank” a bottle of water and then wet her pants.
“I probably started wanting her at 5 and still want her today,” remarked the Los Osos resident during a recent visit to the Santa Maria Town Center.
“I think I’m getting over it,” she added with feigned resignation.
“I’ve wanted it for a long time, because my kids heard me complaining about it,” Traver said.
Traver is not alone in her vivid memory of the toy that got away.
Area residents were quick to name toys they asked Santa and their parents for, begged and pleaded for, but never received for one reason or another.
They just as eagerly, however, recounted special toys they requested and gleefully received in their youth.
When community members spoke of classic toys such as Stretch Armstrong, Lincoln Logs and Hot Wheels, nostalgic smiles and dreamy, distant gazes were sure to follow.
Their inner 10-year-old had come out to play.
Traver’s love of dolls manifested itself in a doll collection she still maintains today.
She sums up the reason behind her passion for dolls with one word: imagination.
Gina Fergas, an employee at Tom’s Toys in the Santa Maria Town Center, recalled longing for a toy beauty salon station as a child, “those giant things they had at the supermarket up on the top shelf.”
“And I begged my mother and begged my mother, and she never got it for me,” she said, becoming animated at the memory.
“Looking back now, it was the dumbest thing. You know, I didn’t need it. What would I have done with it? Where would I have put it? I didn’t have room for it,” she continued.
Santa Maria resident Alex Moreno, 17, wanted a Hot Wheels track as a little boy.
“There was always a new one every year,” he said. “They always got bigger and better.”
He continued, “I always wanted them. The commercials made them look super cool. Then, Christmas morning, I got new Hot Wheels. But never that dream track that I wanted.”
He also has a soft spot in his heart for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Morphers.
“I got one,” Moreno said of Morphers. “But there was a tragic story behind that, because I lost it at school. You can’t just fill a void like that,” he joked.
Francesco Manganiello, 17, a foreign exchange student from Italy, lives with Moreno.
Manganiello said he received the toy he most wanted as a boy — a Nintendo Gameboy.
“I was so happy. Like, my best day,” he added.
A family from north San Luis Obispo County talked about their favorite toys, including the ones they coveted but never received, as they dined at the Santa Maria Town Center.
“I never got my horse. I wanted a pony and I never got it,” said Gina Gutierrez, 46. She said she asked Santa several times for a horse, but “there was always a reason why” she couldn’t have one.
“We didn’t have a ranch or farm, who would take care of it, blah, blah, blah,” Gutierrez added.
She also yearned for a beach cruiser bike that never came.
Some favorite toys she did receive were a Barbie house, Easy Bake Oven and Lite Brite.
“As a kid, I loved it,” she added of those toys.
Gutierrez’s son, Jon Andrus Jr., 16, said he wanted a Buzz Lightyear doll as a child that he never got, and his sister, 12-year-old Rachel Andrus, didn’t receive a talking toy doll she wanted.
Their father, Jon Andrus, wished for a Stretch Armstrong toy as a kid.
“I never got one of those. I always wanted one of those,” added the 40-year-old.
Community leaders also engaged in some serious toy longing in days past.
Santa Maria City Councilman Bob Orach said he had Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toy construction sets in his youth but really wanted a bicycle.
He could hardly believe his luck when he at last received a bike, and at first thought his parents had brought his brother’s bike into the house to keep it protected from the cold weather.
Before he had his own bike, he relied on the charity of his two older brothers.
“I had to sit on the handlebars and they’d ride me around,” he explained.