When You Need A Deenie

From about 1955-1959 we lived in Washington D.C. while my father was stationed at the Pentagon.  Life in my family was financially good but emotionally not so much.  My father worked long hours, my older brothers whom I adored were in school and had their own friends and activities, and my mother drank.

Barb DC in front yard

Which gave me time on my hands.  I did what 4-year-olds do.  I played with dolls, played dress-up, and relied on our maid/nanny for support, treats and attention.

Cowboy Barb in DC


Watch out Wild West, Barb is on her way.




A saving grace for me is that I had one friend.  My best friend Deenie.

There was a special part of our yard that was secluded.  It was just a little off of the driveway, but almost completely enclosed by trees.  A small, grass covered oasis that I thought no one but me knew was there.  My hiding place.  An escape from the chaos and turmoil in our household that I was too young to figure out or even to name.  And every day Deenie and I would play in my secret place.

deenieMy husband and I went back to the house in D.C. and my secret spot isn’t quite as hidden.  I guess the adage is true that you can never go back.



We had marvelous adventures.  Playing house and playing school were our favorites.  School was a little abstract because we had never been there.  Nor could we read yet. But we knew what reading and arithmetic were and we would take turns being teacher and student. Being mother and daughter.

Deenie often hung out at our house.  She didn’t care that my parents fought a lot, nor did she realize, as I didn’t, that much of that was fueled by alcohol.  She was just my friend. And she could be or do whatever I wanted.  She wasn’t at our house all of the time, but came out when I needed her.

Deenie was my imaginary friend.

I vividly remember watching television with Deenie one day.   She was being daring because she was sitting in my father’s chair.  No one sat in my father’s chair except my father.  Ever.  But there was Deenie.  Dad came into the room and sat right on top of her. I jumped up and yelled “You’re squishing Deenie!”

That might be why Deenie didn’t move with us from Washington D.C.  When we arrived in Westchester County, NY, Deenie wasn’t with us.  I don’t think that I was told she couldn’t come.

I guess I didn’t need her anymore.Barb DC on front steps



About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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34 Responses to When You Need A Deenie

  1. Patty Dann says:

    Terrific and poignant piece!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sima Sangria says:

    Oh, that was heartbreaking!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      But I LOVED having Deenie. It was a great coping skill for me. And I did play/antagonize my brothers and follow them everywhere. They just were busy with middle school and high school lives. Thank you for reading this and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mariaholm says:

    It’s so touching to read your post and today I thought about a poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson on exactly that subject “The Unseen Playmate”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    I never had an invisible friend but my little sister did. Her friend’s name was Papookie and was blamed for every bad thing done. One day she flushed her down the toilet and she was no more! ~Elle

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Wow this is a beautiful piece. I’m glad that you had a coping mechanism during this difficult time in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The Unseen Playmate – Health from one Heart to another

  7. It is possible she was attached to the house and couldn’t follow. I like to think she was real.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Garfield Hug says:

    I feel so sad to learn about your past. Glad you had Deenie back then. Thanks for sharing and am glad you are strong and great as an adult.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I really didn’t mean this to sound sad. My daughter said the same thing. Imagining Deenie was a big help as was my relationship with our maid who was really like an unofficial nanny. But that’s a story for another day. Thank you for your comments 🙂


  9. Ann Coleman says:

    My sister had an imaginary playmate, too. I had several imaginary scenarios I as always living out, but not a particular playmate. I think children have a way of coping with stress that can actually be healthy. Good for you for coming up with a friend and confidant when you needed her!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Madeline says:

    Barb, this was great. I’m glad you had Deenie. Can you describe her?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      It’s funny you ask that because I was thinking about that the other day. All I knew, even when I was little, was that she had red hair. I wished I could have red hair, so there you go. Thank you so much.


    • Barb Knowles says:

      Another interesting moment was when I realized I didn’t know how to spell Deenie, because I didn’t know how to spell when she was a part of my life, lol. I tried Deanie, but it didn’t seem right. Deenie did.


  11. Steve says:

    “I guess the adage is true that you can never go back.”

    You can always go back in your mind! You seem very imaginative, so I don’t think that will be much of a problem 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bea dM says:

    You’ve revisited a part of your childhood with a remarkable memory. Just hang on to the vision of that lovely little girl standing on the steps and looking ahead with curiosity 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh! Deenie got squashed! 😦 Amazing though that THAT was it for you. It’s a nice story, Barb! Do you remember if you were talking to here (aka yourself) a lot and if you got strange looks for doing that at that time? I remember my younger brother used to talk to himself (or someone) a lot when he was a lot younger and I always wondered if he has an imaginary friend at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

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