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Little Nadine’s Playhouse
By Kelly Kazek


The birthday party didn’t have the customary air of celebration. Although cake and ice cream were served, the guests may have felt uncomfortable running and playing—the guest of honor had died four months earlier and guests were celebrating atop her grave.

Little Nadine Earles died of diphtheria a week before Christmas 1933. She was only four years old.

Her father had begun building her a playhouse as a Christmas gift when she fell ill in November. As Christmas approached, Nadine grew weaker. To raise her spirits, her parents gave her early Christmas gifts: a life-size doll and a china tea set. But Little Nadine wanted her playhouse. When her father promised to continue work when she got well, the child said “Me want it now.”

After her death, Nadine’s father completed the brick playhouse and installed it atop her grave in Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett, Alabama. Complete with awnings on its windows, a chimney and a small front porch, the house was the site of Little Nadine’s post-mortem birthday party in 1934. Inside, a photo of that celebration sits on the mantle, alongside the doll and china tea set her parents gave her that long-ago December.
Her marker is inscribed with the words:

Our darling little girl
Sweetest in the world
Little Nadine Earles
”Me want it now”

The Earles continued to fill the house with toys and gifts—sometimes placed beneath a decorated Christmas tree—until their deaths. They are buried on the same site as their daughter.

Weird Alabama

 

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