Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Doll Mania part 2, More from Willow Street and then the Portland house.

I had a little rubber doll like this one. Her molded hair is an updo in the back. Her body is molded in one piece, and she's stuffed with kapok or something soft to make her allegedly cuddly.

Mama made a bunch of cloth Betsy McCall dolls like this for the Relief Society Bazaar. The one that she kept was dressed as a fairy, in a little strapless tutu of silver lame.
         When I was small the Relief Society was run by the women themselves, not under the control of the main church. They had their own elected officers, their own magazine, and earned their own  money to support themselves and for charitable purposes. As femininsm began to rear it's interesting head "the priesthood" decided the women were working too hard with bazaars and things earning their own  money, and working too hard running their own magazine.....so they took away the women's autonomy and began "supporting" the Relief Society out of general church funds.  They even gave the women their very own page in the official church magazine.
This was among other things the end of strong lesbian women in leadership positions. None of the women I knew liked this, but it's pretty hard to argue with Salt Lake.

This little Madam Alexander doll is named " Marybel Gets Well".  As you can see she's wearing her pink satin nightie. She has casts for her arm and leg, crutches, dark glasses for if her eyes are bothering her, and a paper of little dot stickers for when she has measles or chickenpox.  When I got my Marybel I also got a set of bunk beds her size, and a little nurse kit. The nurse kit was exactly like the doctor kit except the bag was white instead of black and the picture on it was of a girl instead of a boy.  Doctors were boys back then.

   When I was four years old we moved from Willow Street to the house on Portland Avenue. Here are the dolls I remember from that time.
These little wooden dolls are made in Poland. I had several over the years. I remember Mama bought one of them for me at Opell's Bakery. This was owned by Aunt Pat's brother-in-law, and is where she met Uncle Ray. Why they carried Polish dolls at a bakery I have no idea.
Chatty Cathy. She could talk when  you pulled her string. What can I say? My parents were on the cutting edge of technology, we had a phonograph and a television too. Uncle Charlo thought she was a perfect choice for me, as my nickname was Chatterbox.  I think the whole family were relieved when Chatty Cathy's string broke, rendering her forever silent.
Dixie the Pixie is an American Character doll from their Whimsies line.  Mama and Daddy hid her in the wardrobe and played 'Getting warmer" and "Getting cooler" for me to find her on my 4th birthday.  I was not too quick to catch onto following temperature related clues, and when at last I was led to the wardrobe I was not thrilled with the idea of opening it. When I finally was persuaded to open the wardrobe there were two big eyes staring out at me.  I  liked Dixie the Pixie once I got used to her.
     Poor Pitiful Pearl was based on the cartoon character created by William Steig (who also created Shrek).  The idea of a doll based on the work of this famous New Yorker cartoonist apparently charmed Mama.  I remember Daddy looking up a cartoon of Pearl to show me, but the whole concept was lost on me at age four. Not only was I too young to make the connection between a doll and a magazine cartoonist, I don't think I really grapsed the idea that something drawn could be made into something three dimensional.  Anyway Poor Pitiful Pearl came in a patched dress and tattered shawl, but also had a fancy dress of sheer blue with a black velvet belt and dressy shoes, so you could adopt her and give her a better life.  Lesson for 4 year olds: fancy clothes = better life.
Ugly Nurse Doll. I have no idea who gave me one of these.  I had an Aunt in Kentucky who was a nurse, so this was probably a gift from someone who knew that.  Cheaply made, probably bought at a grocery store. I remember her legs came off and I was frequently standing in line waiting for grown-ups to put down the groceries or dry their hands or finish buttoning their shirt so they could put nurse doll's legs back on. Her eyes popped out too eventually.  At first you had to stick your finger up her neck and push on the back of her eyes to get them to pop out, but after awhile all you had to do was shake her hard.

Tiny Thumbelina.  Cloth body, soft plastic arms and legs, and a big knob on her back to wind. This would cause a bent rod inside her to rotate, which made her head move in a rolling-you-head-exercise kind of way.  If you laid her on her side the movement of her head would be translated down to her lightweight body and floppy limbs.  If you were extremely gullible you might be able to convince yourself she moved like a real baby.  The grinding of  her little internal gearworks was slightly unbabylike.

My first Barbie. Thickest eyelashes in the world (a ridge actually), unnaturally tall for her width, unnaturally busty for her height, and those ankles would never hold up that curvy body in real life. The only natural thing about her was the way her strapless swimsuit top kept rolling down. some clothes are only really suitable for standing still.

Next Time: The Bruceville years.

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