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.