The Disposable Art Library – Wade Whimsies


I don’t know why I ignored these creatures, but I had no idea about the red rose tea figurines. My family drank Lipton tea. We weren’t people from the Red Rose. When I asked some people in Library Braintrust what to write about next, several of them mentioned the animals of the red rose.

Animals with a red rose?

I asked my wife about them. “Did you know there are little animals in tea boxes?” I guess that’s one thing.

My wife gave me one of those exasperated looks, “Husbands are the dumbest creatures,” looked at my sorry face and said, “We have them all over the house. My grandmother loved them. I keep them for her. I mean, I have some there. She pointed to a bookcase, and directly above it was a small ceramic polar bear. There was a bison. There was a Capuchin monkey. (Actually, I’m not sure if this is a capuchin monkey, but I’m feeling a little silly right now, so I thought I was specific about the type of monkey that would improve my stance.)

In another library, I was greeted by a proud lion, but very small. “How did I not know these characters were there?”

My wife audibly sighed and left for the downstairs, where there were, no doubt, other beasts of the Red Rose waiting at her entrance.

My house is a reserve of miniature creatures. I live among wild beasts. I just wish I knew that. I’m curious about the other things that I haven’t noticed. Husbands are stupid.

But I’m a throwaway art writer, so I did my research. Thank you Internet!

The little characters are called Wade Whimsies. They started hanging out in boxes of red rose tea in 1967 in Canada. We in America were not honored with such joy until 1983. It’s not just animals. You could be blessed with a popular landmark in a little glory. There are some who are just weird like one of the heads of Easter Island. A polar bear in your tea is charming and worth keeping. An ancient totem pole from a Pacific island? Yes. He’s a pitcher.

My wife has them because they remind her of her grandmother. She bought them from thrift stores and antique stores for a few dollars each. It’s an affordable way to keep memories alive. We are still trying to bring back those who are missing. If you can do it with a little snow leopard that you got for less than a king size candy bar, then you are living your best life.

But most of the people who have them got them in the red rose tea tin. I’m not sure if people bought the tea just for the numbers, but it’s a good thing to find with something you were going to have anyway. I love tea. I like small ceramic figurines. There is nothing wrong with getting something for nothing.

And that something is easy to put on a shelf. They are so small and inconspicuous. You can be like me, living with them for years without knowing it. Have I lived with animals? I did?

But it’s the joy of little things. Now I know them. Now I walk around the house and see the things I didn’t know were there. The other forms of life. Maybe I’ll be more aware of things in general. Maybe I won’t trip over my winter boots. Maybe I’ll finally find those spare keys I’ve been looking for.

Without a doubt, the little Yorkie figurine took them and hid them in her miniature lair. Maybe that’s where all the socks went too. Blame the Wade Whimsies. They are everywhere.

David Macpherson is a poet and humorist living in the Worcester area.

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