We asked this week's panel: What's the one childhood item you couldn't stand to be without — and might just pitch a fit if Mom, Dad or your summer camp counselor tried to make you?
CEO, Sunset Funeral Homes, Danville
"When I was seven years old, my appendix burst. It was really bad. My mom and dad said if I was a good girl and did what the doctors said, I could have any toy I wanted. Oh, to have that chance again.
"My pick was a Mrs. Beasley doll. She was my best friend for life, and I still have her."
Board of education, Mahomet-Seymour
"My imaginary chimpanzee was all pretend but seemed oh-so real to me. I was so sure this chimp was real that I would slow my gait — as he apparently walked slower than I, curl my fingers as I was holding his hand, and chat it up with him, which I can remember was slightly awkward even then. I'd like to say I was 4 years old but I was much older.
"I believe my sidekick chimp went by the wayside when I heard my older brother say, 'What is she doing?' I can remember thinking it was a valid question."
Circuit clerk, Champaign County
"My mother swears — although I don't quite believe her — that my first words were: 'Read the book.' I brought books with me everywhere, and still do. My oldest daughter, who's 21/2, is the same way — she insists on bringing books with her even to places like the grocery store. I'm not sure what my younger daughter (25 days old) will like most yet, but books certainly wouldn't surprise me."
Owner, Merry Ann's Diner
"When I was really young, I refused to go anywhere without my black labrador retriever, Sadie. We were inseparable. Apparently, I would ride her like a steed around the house — or so I am told. I would also throw fits and scream wildly whenever we left her at home.
"All of which is ironic as I am severely allergic to dogs and cats. I have a pretty serious asthmatic response to animal dander. As the story goes, when I was 4 Sadie died of natural causes and I got better. Almost every old photo of me features either Sadie or a bright red nose — mine — in the foreground."
Insurance agent, State Farm, Champaign
"Growing up, I was — and still am — a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. When I was either 7 or 8 years old, I received my first Vikings T-shirt for Christmas. I wore the letters off that shirt. I believe I wore it every day until we went back to school from Christmas break. I think my mother got tired of washing it and threw it out but I still have many more Viking tees to this day."
Co-owner, Sidney's Rush Creek Farms
"When I was a baby, a close friend of my mom made me a small pillow to help keep my head steady when I was just learning to sit up. This was well before all of the baby paraphernalia that is available now. Needless to say, the pillow became my constant companion — and I still have it. As far as pillows go, it's had an exciting life — college, overseas travel and yes, many trips through the washing machine and new covers to keep up with fashion trends."
Athletic director, Danville High School
"Like most boys in the neighborhood of my generation, one did not go anywhere without their ball glove. You never knew when or where a game of 500, pickle, home run derby or a full blown game may happen. I always had my trusty Billy Pierce autographed gloved oiled and ready."
Pastor, Rantoul's First United Methodist
"As a child, moccasins were my preferred footwear. I was an Indian girl, and those moccasins were part of my identity. Although funds were limited, my parents made sure I had a new pair each time I outgrew the one before."
"A stuffed bear that looks like a bear — not a cute, fake-looking teddy bear — named Bailey. My grandfather gave him to me for my seventh birthday. It was the only gift he ever gave me that was just from him, not one Grandma picked out and put both their names on. He passed away three months later.
"I still have it today. It's on a shelf in my spare bedroom, and my daughter thinks Bailey is special, too. She asks to get him down for hugs."
President, Gifford State Bank
"I have always been a baseball fanatic and as a child was obsessive about my card collection. I bought and traded Topps baseball cards — the ones with the thin slice of bubblegum — starting in about 1966, the year I went to my first major league game, at the then-new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I would buy and trade until I had complete starting teams and then lay the cards out on the floor as if they were playing a game.
"Until 1969. I was so disappointed in Curt Flood, because he sued Major League Baseball. As a 10-year-old, I couldn't imagine anyone didn't play the sport because they loved it. So I got rid of my Curt Flood Cardinals card and became a Cub fan — probably not one of my best thought-out decisions. I had even found some old cards of my dad's when exploring the basement of my grandparents' grocery store. So I had a collection that today would have been worth quite a bit.
"However, when I graduated college in 1981 and moved away from home, my mom decided it was time to get rid of all the 'junk of my youth' in my room. Needless to say, some garbage collector in Beardstown, Illinois probably hit the jackpot."