The Dart: Vidalia family enjoys living in house fit for a mouse
VIDALIA — Just looking at Charlette Waston’s Peach Street home from the outside, one would never know that a child’s dream house is just inside.
When The Dart landed in Watson’s neighborhood Sunday afternoon, she was just finishing a bit of yard work, blowing the leaves away from around a bright green jungle gym and a Mickey Mouse mailbox that added color to her front lawn.
“If you like Mickey Mouse, you haven’t seen anything yet,” Watson said.
Her front door opens into a dining area with a restaurant-style booth attached to the wall next to a tiny toy jukebox. Turn the corner and walk through a waist-high swing door and Watson’s entire kitchen is alive with color, just like the rest of her home. Every wall and all the trimming around them was a contrasting color just like the House of Mouse, and each door is labeled with a mouse-eared panel with the name of a cartoon duck painted on them — Huey, Dewey, Louie, Daisy and Donald.
Inside each room, every shelf and piece of furniture is packed with toys, most of which are other Walt Disney characters.
Watson said she and her husband, Barney, built the dream house out of a unique and colorful collection of toys that has been added to for more than 50 years.
“Some of these you can’t even find anymore,” she said.
Mixed with the collection of stuffed Mickeys and Minnies are several Cabbage Patch Kids, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, and all kinds of other dolls.
Watson said her mother, Elsie Hawks, taught her useful skills like sewing and thorough cleaning so that every surface and appliance is spotless. Watson said she hones those skills to brighten her home and to clean up and sew dresses and clothes for her toys.
“I’ve loved fixing dolls ever since I was a little girl,” Watson said. “Some of these were found at Saint Andrew’s or the dump. I like to wash them and dress them up. It just brings them back to life and brightens their smiles and that makes me happy.”
Watson said her collection of Disney items started after her daughter, Becky Kuehler, was born in 1970. Kuehler loved Mickey Mouse and Disney princesses and other characters as much as Watson loved her dolls, she said — so the collection grew.
Six years later Watson and her husband bought the house on Peach Street and remodeled all but the guts of it from floor to ceiling, Watson said.
Barney Watson and Kuehler use their drawing and painting skills to help Watson give her dolls new faces and add drawings and paintings of characters to her collection, Watson said. Disney themed watches and clocks, singing bedside lamps, and porcelain figurines decorate Watson’s home as well.
Kuehler’s two children, ages six and seven, are showing signs of their grandfather and mother’s creativity at a young age, Watson said, adding her grandson can hook up any television or game and her grand-daughter can draw and write with cute and swirly letters.
Watson said her husband and grandchildren bring her more toys to repair and buy her fresh new dolls or other collectibles for Christmas each year.
For Christmas, Watson said she has a rotating Christmas Tree that she pretties with all Disney-themed ornaments.
Thousands of toys and Disney World souvenirs fill the house, “and I could tell you a story about each and every one of them,” Watson said.
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