Earlier this year I was out for a run. I was winded and falling back on my mantra of “eating wind sandwiches.” Just fill up on air, I can keep going… slice another sandwich… eat it up…
Then I started thinking about where that story and imagery originated for me. It was a Raggedy Ann story book, one of the first chapter books I ever read. After some internet searching, I came up with the name of the book and ordered it from a used bookseller. For about $5 after shipping, I could share a little piece of my childhood with my kid. The book was called Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land by Johnny Gruelle.
Before Disney invented a nursery full of toys who come to life and have adventures, there were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy and their adventures. In this story, they chase a rabbit down a hole Alice-in-Wonderland style. They arrive in another world filled with soda icicles, cookie people, and unfortunately, a wicked little goblin.
One of the characters is called the Snitznoodle. He explains to the Raggedys that he only eats wind sandwiches, and is therefore never hungry. He shows them how he uses a knife to slice the bread and the air, and makes a nice stack of sandwiches. I remember reading and re-reading that part. I was probably baffled, given my lifelong love of food.
When I was searching for this book, I found a blog post by Klara at the 5 o’clock teaspoon who also wrote a blog post about the book and the time in which it was written. Her analysis of the book provides me with a new perspective. Klara explains that the Raggedy adventures were written during the Great Depression when most children in America were lucky to have anything to eat at all. Imagine feeding their imaginations with stories like this. Check out her blog while you’re there: it’s beautiful and so intelligent.
I suppose you’re wondering how I convinced my six year old boy to read a Raggedy Ann book? Well, he called it a girl book at first and said he’d have nothing to do with it. Then I just started reading it out loud. He was at my side before I even finished the first paragraph. We’re on the second reading of it, he liked it so much. My Hookie-the-Goblin voice makes my throat a little raw. He’s such a chatty and mean little bully… always threatening to turn one or the other into noodle soup or sausage.
In my life, I am hoping to be more like Raggedy Ann. Ever the kind one, her candy heart assures that she will treat even the meanest of souls with kindness. She’s an inspiration. I’m a happy mama when we can turn off television and dive into her world a little longer.