The Cracked Pink Cup

One of my favorite books from childhood was “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  It is the story of four orphans, Henry, Benny, Jessie and Violet, who run away and live in an abandoned boxcar they found in the forest. Henry is old enough to do odd jobs to get a little needed money, and they furnish their boxcar home with goods found in a local dump.

I remember being captivated with Benny (the youngest) and his cracked pink cup. I wanted a pink cup and a few mismatched spoons and my own playhouse with no rules. There was an innocence and simplicity that was endearing – and a happy ending.

Oh, and unsupervised kids.

Did I mention the unsupervised kids? They were about 14, 12, 10 and 5.

And living in an abandoned boxcar. In the forest. And eating out of plates they found at the dump. Preparing meals for themselves. Which I’m sure were scavenged too. Little hoodlums.

Peachy, until one of them gets sick. Really sick. (And no medical insurance.) And then their rich grandfather comes in – having met them under a false identity – reveals himself, takes them to live with him and puts their boxcar in the yard to play in.

No wonder I loved it! What kid doesn’t want to have a secret place of their own, with no grown-ups, no supervision, no rules…

It’s a parent’s nightmare.

And don’t get me started on how these 4 orphans aren’t actually taken in when their parents die. They seek shelter with a baker and his wife overnight, but the wife doesn’t want Benny, who is too little and can’t be used for slave labor helpful around the bakery. Well, they didn’t take to that, so they ran away from the baker. Um, so no one taught these kids not to talk to strangers? Let alone spend the night at a stranger’s house.


Of course, the book was written in the ’40s, so the living-in-a-boxcar-in-the-woods bit- without cable, internet, Wii or Xbox wouldn’t appeal to today’s children, I’m sure.

Although….MY kids would prolly love it.

I still covet that cracked pink cup.

This post was inspired by a prompt at Mama Kat’s Writing Challenge.

Mama's Losin' It


  1. I loved that book as a child too. The sad part of it all though, is that there are children in this world that have to live life like that.

    Michelle ~ fellow writers workshopper 😉

  2. OMG I didn’t think anyone but me remembered The Boxcar Children. I used to read them with a flashlight under the blankets. LOL

  3. Sounds like a fabulous book!

  4. *sigh* i loved those books as a kid and as a teacher. as a mama it’s a whole new ballgame, isn’t it? great post! 🙂

  5. For me it was The Secret Island by Enid Blyton. Four children run away from their nasty aunt and uncle to live on an island in the middle of a lake, with the help of their friend Jack. They built a house out of living willow, that grew!
    Which is why my sister and I were once found half way down towards the local wilderness (called The Clough) with a big bag each containing all our dressing up clothes and our money boxes, going to live in a den in the woods.

    • Oh, I loved Enid Blyton too! I really can’t wait to introduce Pea and Boo to all these wonderful books….so glad to see you here, Lesley!!!

  6. Thanks – I drop by regularly, but I don’t often have anything interesting to say!

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