The Blog Squad

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

World of Mirth, indeed...

I did not know Kathryn Harvey any more than as a Carytown fixture, a presence almost every time I visited World of Mirth, which was quite a bit since almost the day it opened. The most we ever spoke, other than to ask if you still carry this or are going to reorder that was when she very kindly let me use her cluttered but clean back room to change a diaper. Moms sympathize.

I don't want to belabor this story. It is simply too awful. What I want to do is pay tribute to the world that Kathryn Harvey created in that spot in Carytown -- a world of mirth, indeed. I was there on Dec. 23 and spotted Kathryn briefly chatting with a friend who had brought her some cookies. I was over the by the adult Mad-Libs. I bought my husband an Avenging Unicorn Playset, which included a unicorn with interchangeable horns who impales a mime along with two other annoying little figures. I shamelessly guffawed out loud when I saw it. I also bought an Edgar Allan Poe action figure and a Jane Austen action figure, complete with quill and writing desk! (More out-loud laughing). I bought a Miracle Eyes Jesus, a concave little sculpture in which Jesus' piercing blue eyes follow you wherever you go in the room. It's exactly like the huge porcelain one my grandfather had in his bedroom. Then I bought some buttons for many people on my list. "Can't sleep, clowns will eat me" ... "Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-o to a tree" ... "I'm not old, your music really does suck" ... a peace sign for my daughter and I replaced my "Wackos for Peace" button that I'd lost the week before Christmas.

Where else could you find infant onesies with anarchy signs next to Hello Kitty toys next to handcrafted wooden toys next to punching nun puppets next to ...? Well, you get the idea. World of Mirth has been more than a store to me; it's a vibe. I have always felt comfortable there among the tattooed employees with the St. Catherine's manners. For being a store so steeped in hipness, it never exuded a "you're-not-cool-enough-to-be-here" feeling. No one cares if you hang out for an hour browsing, playing, laughing, letting your kids touch everything and then leaving. When you bring someone a gift from World of Mirth, wrapped up and overstuffed with tons of colorful tissue paper and ribbon, the recipient always knows something surprising and delightful awaits them.

I always attributed that warm and welcoming vibe to Harvey, who seemed so easy-going and lighthearted as she strolled through the store. She created something new and unique in this town that somehow felt familiar and comfortable from the very beginning.

I hope the irreverent and joyful world Kathryn Harvey created is strong enough to withstand the pain of this loss. I hope one day to laugh out loud again in World of Mirth. But I imagine it will take a very long time.


At Tue Jan 03, 10:27:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even live on the east coast, but I heard this story on the news and, though it's a little ridiculous, I feel a real connection to it. These seem like the kind of good, goofy people I am friends with, who give their daughters beautiful and interesting names like Ruby and Stella, and from what I've read, people who wanted the best for everybody and were willing to put their money where their mouth was. Thank you for this insight into the world Kathryn was able to create for a little bit of Richmond, and here's hoping that you're back and laughing at her store as soon as possible. Sounds like that what she would have wanted.

At Wed Jan 04, 10:17:00 AM EST, Blogger Janet Giampietro said...

it's not at all ridiculous to feel a connection to this story, no matter who you are or where you live. you honor these people by paying attention to the details of their lives, rather than their deaths. thank you for that.

At Wed Jan 04, 01:29:00 PM EST, Anonymous Mickey B said...

I knew Bryan just a little when he lived here in LA. He was always kind, gracious, and friendly. His music was sheer genius. I have never stopped listening to House of Freaks over the last twenty years. He was a real inspiration to me. This is an overwhelming tragedy. I can't believe that his voice is stilled and his family gone. Or that someone I knew so briefly could have such a profound impact on me.

At Thu Jan 05, 03:15:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Kathryn, I felt an instant connection. Our relationship was business and friendship. We shared worries about our children and pride in our children. We shared our concern about the war. Kathryn introduced me to her favorite Cuban restaurant and cupcake place in NY. We really talked when we were together for sales calls, lunches, dinners, and walks. These are rambling thoughts about a person that touched my life in a profound way. Stella and Ruby were unique and beautiful children that knew their parents loved them. I suppose there is some comfort in that thought.


At Sun Jan 08, 12:37:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

O Mirth and Innocence!
O milk and water!
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days. (Lord Byron)

Richmond, the tragedy is within your borders only on a map. We share your grief and pray for peace of mind to return to you all.

Friends in Colorado

At Mon Jan 09, 02:15:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard about the Harvey family tragedy on the news and have been checking back with the Richmond news sources regularly. I am so relieved to hear that the two horrible and dangerous criminals are in custody and Richmond is safe once again. I am sending sincere condolences and prayers of healing for your broken hearts. Bryan, Kathryn, Ruby, and Stella are home now, together in peace and without pain and suffering.

At Wed Feb 08, 02:53:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in the world of mirth the other day when visitng Richmond. I didn't realise it was THE store. My sis told me the wife had a toy store on Cary street. Really wonderful place. The person who put that place together must have been an incredibly inventive and creative person with a child like view of the world. This story makes me sick. Bless their souls.

At Sat Mar 25, 08:16:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

let your laughter in world of mirth remind us all of the kindness and smiles thie beautiful family brought us all. i knew and love the harveys, i know that's what they would've wanted.
please remember them well.

At Wed Aug 13, 11:21:00 PM EDT, Blogger anne said...

just another heart finally saying it hurts--still, over this unprovoked tragedy. three visits to richmond took me to the world of mirth three times. kathy inspired me and made it easy to buy their display halloween tree -- complete with all the hanging ornaments. she walked me through shipping and was thrilled to hear it had found a new home in a florida pediatric office. kathy and her family and richmond will remain in my thoughts and heart forever


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