What Katy from What Katy Did and I have in common

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What Katy Did is the first book in a trilogy of children’s books about Katy Carr and her siblings. The first book was published in 1872 and is set in the fictional town of Burnet, a small town in mid-Western America. Katy’s father is a busy doctor and her mother died shortly after the birth of her youngest sibling so the children are primarily looked after by their Aunt Izzie.

This book tells the delightful tale of how Katy, who is partially paralyzed after a fall out of a swing, overcomes her pain and disability, and becomes the center of her home and family.

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What Katy Did also features some lovely poetry, some of which I can still remember many years after reading this book. One such extract is as follows:

I used to go to a bright school

Where Youth and Frolic taught in turn;

But idle scholar that I was,

I liked to play, I would not learn,

So the Great Teacher did ordain

That I should try the School of Pain.

Katy also has some marvelous ideas like decorating a small Christmas tree and hanging a variety of tiny gifts on it. I have borrowed this idea and given small trees, decorated with homemade decorations by the children and little parcels and chocolates to two of Michael’s teachers as part of their year-end gift.

I also, somehow, got the idea of making a book for my Mother, from this book. I supervised the creation of a picture for the book by each of my three younger sisters and we glued in a variety of chocolates and sweets. This very fat book was gifted to my Mother one Christmas morning.

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The aspect of this trilogy that made the biggest impression on me when I read this book as a girl was Katy’s amazing ability to make friends with a vast array of unexpected and unusual people. Katy quickly becomes totally devoted to her new friends and, as she doesn’t always make the best choices of friendships, she often ends up being totally devastated when the friendships come to a sad end. Two of these friendships remain in my mind, the one was with the ailing wife of a man who proved to be a scoundrel and suddenly disappeared, along with his poor wife, in the middle of the night. The other was a pretentious girl called Imogen Clarke who was very pretentious and prone to passing her exaggerations and made-up stories off as the truth. In the book, Katy is totally astonished to discover the Imogen’s stories are not true.

I think this particular aspect of Katy’s character fascinated me because I am a person who has always become friendly with the most unusual people. I recall as a young girl of nine years old, walking home from the beach with my sister, Catherine, in tow and seeing and elderly lady struggling to walk home with bags of shopping. I approached her and offered our  services to carry her bags home for her. My offer was gladly accepted and we both carried her shopping across the town and up the stairs of her block of flats. We were invited in for tea and that was the start of a new friendship. Catherine and I visited this old lady a number of times and she showed us how to crochet a pin cushion and would give us treats of home made biscuits. Of course, when I was a girl living in the small town of Fishhoek in the Western Cape of South Africa, it was not considered unsafe to speak to elderly strangers. I think my Mother would have been quite horrified if she had known that we went to this old lady’s flat though [she still doesn’t know so mum’s the word].

To this very day, I have acquaintances all over the place. I have six beggars who I give food to every week and who I have a quick chat with when the traffic lights are red. I had a couple of pensioners whom I helped with food parcels up until quite recently when they moved away. I have conversations with the security guards and the ladies who make tea as well as anyone else who likes to have a chat. My Mother calls me a people collector.

Do you have any interesting friendship tales? Let me know in the comments.

64 thoughts on “What Katy from What Katy Did and I have in common

  1. What a wonderful combination of an interesting book, and a personal look into your life. I love books with heroines or heroes, who overcome things to be special in many ways. Keep being a collector of people. Your mentioning those you help who are in difficult situations, brought a little mist to my eyes. Take care, and be well.

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  2. I believe you can never have too many friends! Even though they can let you down sometimes, it is still better to have made the effort. Keep collecting people and you will never be lonely.

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  3. I just love this post! One of my sisters is just like you Robbie. When we went places as a family she would meet strangers who asked if she could come home with them. I remember one time when our family had moved to a new city and we were living temporarily in a block of rental flats with other families waiting for their new houses to be built. By the end of the first week she had brought home two families—one Japanese and one Mexican—none of whom spoke English. In the decades since then, they became my parents best friends, sharing weddings, celebrations, and sorrows.

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      1. And we all must do that, otherwise if we call ourselves people. By the way, if you want, I can email you recipes of our Easter Cake & Pasqua, a dish made from curd. I think you would be curious to cook them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Seems we’re birds of a feather, Robbie. I have friended a number of elderly folk throughout my life; I chat with and give money to the homeless as I walk through my neighborhood; and I always spent time with schoolmates who were considered outcasts. The heart draws us to sharing with the unfortunate and needy ❤

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  5. “A people collector.” I like that description, Robbie. 🙂

    I’m a private person and don’t make friends easily, but for some reason others tend to confide in me. I guess I’m a good listener. 🙂
    I do love talking with the elderly and am usually more at ease around them than people of other age groups.

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  6. Wonderful post, Robbie. You’ll live beyond 100 old! Well, that’s a long story. Times Magazine did a Longevity article and interview four people at four corners of the world. One of the elements of living a happy and long life is to have a community. You look out for people, people will look out for you. You’ll never be alone. I appreciate your post!

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this post, Miriam. I read an article once that said people need to look for happiness outside of themselves and their own lives and I believe that is true. If you give to others it makes you happy in your heart and soul.

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      1. It’s so true, Robbie. Self-centered happiness doesn’t last for too long, but investing in helping others makes a lasting fulfillment and happiness! I appreciate your helping spirit. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post! It was a much simpler time then. Cannot imagine children having tea in a stranger’s home now and we are poorer for it. Really loved reading about your people collection.

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    1. Thank you, Sally, for sharing your thoughts. Strangely, I have rarely found relationships with the elderly and disadvantaged to be disappointing. The disappointing relationships for me have always been those with people in my own age, economic and social groups. I don’t assimilate easily with many of these people for some reason.

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      1. Perhaps you have an old head on your shoulders Robbie and have always done so. When you are wise beyond your years you tend to make friends with older people. I have found that with children who have spent a long time in hospital or on their own with heads buried in books and happy with their own imaginations. xxx

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  8. Love that Robbie – a people collector. I believe I have been one myself all my life. I never had trouble making friends with anyone and those friendships are with a diverse bunch of different people. I think it’s in our creative natures to attract different people. 🙂

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  9. I loved the Katy books 🙂 Robbie I have said it before, you have a kind heart and you are a wonderful person.
    I don’t have stories like yours, but I do have a soft heart especially for the sick, and the elderly and will always help no matter what when I can. 🙂 Have a lovely week !

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely post, Robbie. How nice to get to know a little more about the very delightful and friendly you. A people collector? Now that could have a variety of interpretations. 🙂


  11. I loved the Katy books, Robbie. I remember the pretentious Imogen very well! When I was working in Pakistan it was usual for the foreigners to befriend other foreigners or well-to-do Pakistanis. I was invited to a very posh hotel by a rather grand foreign doctor. When we came out, I was hailed by the guy who drove a tonga – one of my best friends. We got in and on the way he stopped at a paan wallah’s stall, nipped off and brought back my favourite sweet paan – much to the horror of my grand doctor. I know which ones I’d rather be friends with!

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  12. Interesting post…

    Did you know there are two other books that are officially part of the series? They follow the girls when they’re a bit older. I think the titles are “Clover” and “In The High Valley” if I’m remembering correctly. I found and read them a couple of years ago when re-reading the first three.

    Liked by 1 person

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