As Kim Harris was deciding whether or not to take a trip down to the Bargain Box thrift store in Cody last week, her 18-year old son, Brandon, urged her to just go.
“You never know,” he told her. “You just might find something you didn’t know you were looking for.”
That turned out to be something she had searched for — but many years earlier. Harris found what she believes is a favorite doll lost about 37 years ago.
When Harris was just 9 years old, she wanted nothing more than what most other girls in America wanted for Christmas in 1984 – a Cabbage Patch doll.
“They were extremely popular,” she told Cowboy State Daily, “and boy, did I want one. And Christmas time came around and there was a gift under the tree that I knew for sure was a Cabbage Patch Kid – and I just pestered my mom until she let me open it on Christmas Eve. And sure enough, it was this cute little preemie named Ozzie Hector.”
Harris said she had never wanted anything so bad in her life.
“He was my little baby,” she said. “I took him everywhere. And I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything so bad since then.”
But their time together was short.
“A few months later, I think it was springtime, I couldn’t find him,” she said. “I just couldn’t. I looked everywhere. I went to school at Livingston (Elementary) and looked in the lost and found, looked around the neighborhood, looked in our house. I couldn’t find him anywhere, and I was just devastated. He was gone.”
Fast forward 37 years. Harris returned to Cody after leaving for a few years. She was planning out her errands on Jan. 25.
“Before I went to the Bargain Box, I said, ‘I want to go look for these items,’ but I wasn’t really in the mood to go,” she recalled. “And Brandon, my son, said ‘You know, you might find something you didn’t realize you were looking for.’”
Harris said she picked up the items on her list and was paying for them when an item in a nearby display case caught her eye.
“In the glass case was a bunch of Cabbage Patch dolls,” she said. “And I saw him on top, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that looks exactly like Ozzie.’”
After paying for her items, she said she went over to the case and was stunned at the sight of her favorite childhood companion.
“There’s a chocolate stain on his shirt,” she said, “and when I saw that chocolate, I just almost started to cry. I was like, ‘Oh, oh my gosh, it’s got to be him.’”
When the cashier took the doll out of the case, Harris was near tears.
“I told her that I lost a doll when I was 9, and I think this is the doll,” she recalled. “I said ‘I’m going to go ahead and get him,’ and she said, ‘Wait, the actual doll?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I think that’s my doll.’”
Harris posted on a community Facebook page, hoping to find out where Ozzie has been for the last 37 years.
“A week ago I found what appears to be my long lost Ozzy, at the Bargain Box. I nearly burst into tears when I saw him. I’m 99% sure it’s the very doll I lost – he’s wearing the same outfit and still has the old plastic disposable diaper I put on him.
“I grew up on Casper Drive, and this happened in the summer of 1984-ish. I know it’s a long shot, but nine-year-old me is dying to know if it’s really him. If anyone can help me put the last piece of this puzzle together, I’d really appreciate your help! Where has he been all my life??”
While Harris is certain the doll she found is her long-lost Ozzie, there’s still some uncertainty.
“Even though my heart says ‘Oh, yeah, it’s him,’ I thought, ‘Well, I’ll post something on the classifieds. Everybody knows everybody in Cody,’” she said.
“And maybe somebody knows who donated him – because he is in perfect condition. He has not been touched. He’s still got the same plastic disposable diaper on that we don’t use anymore, probably since the (1980s). So I don’t know if he got taken to someone’s house and then just put on a shelf or whatever, but he’s in absolutely perfect condition, except for the chocolate stain on his shirt,” she said.
Harris said she has since found pictures of herself holding Ozzie when she was a little girl.
“The only two pictures that I have with him,” she said. “One is when I was opening his box on Christmas Eve, and he’s got that same outfit on.”
Since the find last week, tragedy has struck Harris’ family — her father Tim, passed away just a few days after her original post. In an addition to the post, Harris said finding out about the missing years of her favorite childhood toy would be even more meaningful now.
“I will welcome back and enjoy the (possible) return of a very strong childhood connection,” Harris wrote, “while mourning the loss of the man who taught me best how to love in the first place.”
Comments on the Facebook post have been very supportive.
“If this is your original Cabbage Patch or not, Ozzy is right where he was meant to be at just the right time,” read one comment.
Other comments recalled similar incidents.
“Same thing happened with a stuffed kitty I had as I kid!” another wrote. “Found it there and sure enough my name was on the tag!”
Harris said she would really like to find out who donated Ozzie to the Bargain Box store, so she can put the mystery to rest.
“It’s like my heart knew,” she said. “And I’m still convinced it’s him, but if anybody can find out where he’s been, man, that would just make my day.”