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Last month, I took a trip back to my daughter’s childhood. We were on our way to Helen, GA but had to pass through Cleveland to get there, which automatically meant that we would be stopping there as well. What’s so special about Cleveland? It’s the Home of the Original Appalachian Artworks or the Cabbage Patch Kids.
Remember those? We may not hear about them as much nowadays, but trust me, they are still very much loved. I’d wanted to get one for my daughter when they were first introduced but was somewhat turned off when I witnessed grown women fighting one another in the stores to get one.
I didn’t quite understand that one. The company had licensed the toy manufacturer, Coleco, to mass produce them so quantity shouldn’t have been an issue.
I believe CPK was one of the first manufacturers to create buying frenzies like that to build consumer interest by releasing only a certain number to the public so such fights would ensue. Brilliant!I won’t even get into the auctions where people happily paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to get their hands on these unique creatures. While there was some initial trepidation about getting one coupled with the fact that the prices had dropped to the point where mere mortals could finally afford it, I eventually gave in.
In 1983, Xavier Roberts started a frenzy when he started the company as a result of his being introduced to needle molding, a German type of fabric sculpturing several years prior. Coupled with the quilting skills learned from his mother, he created a doll that soon became a must have for girls all over the world. In fact, in its first six months, over two million Cabbage Patch Kids were sold.
I fell prey to that craze myself when I purchased one for my then 7-year-old. It was love at first sight when Carisa saw Fanny Ellen that frosty Christmas morn 25 years ago and they haven’t been apart since. Who knows why CPK’s have become such a cottage industry or why they are so dearly loved, but it is clearly evident that they have no plans of losing steam anytime soon.
While the original hospital was a renovated early 20th-century medical clinic, they have since outgrown it. The new hospital sits on 650 acres and is roughly 70k square feet. I was quite impressed as I drove onto the hospital grounds, it resembled an old southern mansion like the one shown during the credits of “Dallas”, the 80s television show.
The surrounding acreage was vast enough to make you feel as though you really were there on set. I stepped up to the full wraparound porch which engulfed the perimeter of the building. White rocking chairs were positioned along the expanse of the porch just in case anyone wanted to sit for a spell.
As you entered the foyer, you are greeted by a pristine black and white marbled floor that leads you to a nurses’ station as you turned the corner. As we were signing the guest register, an announcement over the PA system indicated that a little CPK was about to come into the world.
It’s not every day that you get a chance to witness a “live” birth. I was fortunate to be present during the birth of Sarah T-Rex on March 25, 2011. A Strange name you say? Well, the kids that named her shortly after her arrival at Babyland General thought it was a cool moniker. All of the babies that are born in a vast cabbage patch in Cleveland, Georgia USA are ushered into the world by the good doctors and nurses who have pledged to give the best care to all of the little ones waiting to be adopted by a loving mom and/or dad.
We made our way to the birthing room and listened intently as the doctor explained the birthing process to a roomful of curious school children and their teachers and some were on vacation like us and were with their parents. After a detailed explanation of how babies come into the world, we were finally graced with her presence:
As you can see the experience was more than memorable and I’m sure that it answered a lot of questions for the inquisitive kids. The rest of the hospital is filled with all types of Cabbage Patch kids (vintage as well as the newest ones) waiting to be claimed by some lucky boy or girl. Don’t miss the opportunity to see some of the original dolls on display in the main lobby. Some are valued at over 15,000.00 US. Be sure to stop by the gift shop to pick up one of a kind souvenirs from Babyland General and remember that general admission is free!