In my recent old age, I started feeling sentimental about dolls I had as a child and so began a collection of vintage Barbie dolls from the sixties. One of my favorite TV shows - Mad Men - may have had something to do with this, all of that '60s nostalgia you know. (Mad Men, where ARE you?? It's been way too long.)
These are not mine - Mattel created a line of Mad Men Barbies . . . .
You can laugh if you like but I was definitely a Barbie girl in 1960 and the doll played a huge role in my childhood. Antique dolls did not.
This beauty came to me last year when I was in the hospital and served as an excellent perk-me-up at the time. For some reason I was able to obtain her at a ridiculous price. Timing, I guess. Or maybe her hair - her hair was totally disheveled but I was able to get it back to looking good with a little elbow grease and conditioning shampoo. I will sometimes browse eBay or flea markets for a few collectible outfits to add to her wardrobe.
In my occasional, neverending quest for the affordable, collectible Barbie from 1960 - 1965, I found a new doll store. This may surprise some of you but I don't really collect "antique" dolls despite my love of antique quilts and 19th century reproduction fabric. I do love some reproduction antique dolls though, like the ones featured on this site. But they don't tug at my heartstrings or bring back a flood of memories the way Barbie does.
How cool is she??
This store in Chicago is a doll collector's dream, where you can find almost any doll that was ever made. Mostly popular 20th century dolls, not real antique dolls from the 19th century. It's such a fun place to browse through. Not only can you admire the excellent craftsmanship of some of the newer dolls, but you can easily recapture your childhood too. My own childhood was FILLED with dolls. Who knows where they all went? I shudder to think . . . . At Gigi's I found dolls I had forgotten I once had.
I grew up watching old Shirley Temple movies instead of cartoons on Saturday mornings and of course had the doll made by Ideal in 1959, as well as a Chatty Cathy doll when it came out. I was able to hang onto that one - I think Chatty must have been hiding under the bed the day my mom sent the rest to the "doll farm."
Not everyone delights in dolls, however, and I understand that only too well. My son was afraid of dolls when he was a child. Not good if you have a sister. I think it had to do with one of the creepy after-school TV shows he saw a few times where a doll came alive and killed a kid or something. He insisted on watching because all the other kids at school watched it and read those Goosebumps books and they called him a baby if he didn't too. Of course, we banned the show and books after he started having trouble sleeping at night and we finally figured it out. I think he was relieved.
A memorable moment in my son's Cub Scout career came after he won the Pinewood Derby and we had to leave the meeting early because the after-program featured a ventriloquist and his dummy doll, LOL. He freaked. Granted, he was only six or seven so I didn't blame him - those dolls are creepy to me, too. He's 23 now and has pretty much overcome his fears, I think (I hope. We don't actually ever talk about it but I'm sure he wouldn't mind my sharing it here with all of you . . . ).
The cure occurred one summer when he was 12 and his uncle took him camping in northern Minnesota. My sister-in-law grew up there and her family still lived in the area. After camping a few days in the wilderness, the "boys" decided they needed a shower and a night in a nice warm bed. They drove into town where one of the relatives was nice enough to put them up for the night. Only problem was, this very nice grandmotherly lady was a doll collector and she put my son in her guest bedroom that housed her huge collection of dolls. Dolls everywhere. He faced his fears that night. Thank goodness, no dolls came alive.
He has since gone on to be doll-phobic-free. They haven't ever gone camping there again, though. And I think it was probably a good thing he wasn't with me when I visited this shop. I kept chuckling to myself as I browsed, thinking that, while it might be a dream come true for many women my age (Ooooh, look at this one!), this was a place that could easily be chock full of nightmares for someone else.
P. S.: More about my adventures with Barbie here. And, if you're ever cleaning out your basements, I'd be more than happy to take all of those old Barbie outfits from the early sixties off your hands LOL . . .