Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sentimental About Dolls

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 . . .


Miki Willa said...

I love dolls, too. I had a bride doll that sat on my bed and a chatty cathy. I think Barbie must have become popular after I grew out of playing with dolls because I don't remember having them when I was a kid. I am about to make a baby doll for my granddaughter who has requested a "pink doll with pink soft clothes and pink hair." I just have to find the right pattern. Thanks for sharing your doll story.

Susie said...

I still have my Barbie, I think she is from year two. Added Midge a while later. Still have all the clothes I sewed and knitted for her. Only dolls I kept.

Beth said...

I don't know what happened to all of my Barbies, but I did have 2 younger sisters. The dress on your Barbie was my very favorite outfit. I still love it.

Leeanne said...

I was a Barbie girl too, I had many through my childhood in the 1970's, I made many of their clothes and was lucky my Mum let me use her sewing machine,she then went on to buy me my own sewing machine at the age of 10, I still have that sewing machine. I use it for all my piecing of quilts.

Merilyn said...

What a fabulous doll shop!! I could get lost in there all day LOL! I didn't have a Barbie, but I did have a lovely old doll, when I was very young I cut all her hair off, and was most surprised to find out it would never grow back LOL!!!

Ruth said...

Nothing wrong with bringing back those care free childhood days! I used to have so much fun playing "house" with dolls. I still have a few of the little 8" dolls from those days, although I didn't really play with them. They were more for sitting on a shelf. I still have some of the doll clothes that my Mom made for my other dolls and I have them hanging on the walls in a couple places. Right now I'm making doll clothes for a doll we're giving our GD for her birthday. It is so much fun! I really hope she is a doll lover - she's only 3 now, so we'll see if it continues. I posted the first dress I finished on my blog yesterday.

Denise said...

I still wish I had not given all my Barbie stuff to my sister......she really didn't appreciate them. I spent many, many hours playing with my Barbies!

ann hermes said...

My son was afraid of dolls too! A friend had given me some of the Byers Choice Carolers. I put them out at Christmas and my son cried. He made me turn them around so he couldn't see their faces.
I had Barbie and Skipper.

Mad about Craft said...

I was a 'Sindy' girl - until the head fell off!

I got her in 1966

I used to make clothes for her and built bedrooms for her out of Lego.

Becca said...

We must be about the same age! I, too, had Barbies, including the original. After that purchase, I was hooked and all I ever wanted was Barbies and Barbie "stuff." So last year, my daughter gave me a reproduction of my favorite Barbie, the picnic one with the fishing pole. Now, I am collecting the reproductions of the ones that I remember having. TUESDAY MORNING is a great place to find reasonably priced reproductions. What great memories those bring back! I know that Santa is bringing me three more for Christmas! Have fun! I'm enjoying my second childhood almost as much as my first! :)

Dixie Redmond said...

Thanks for linking to Maida Today, Kathy! Have some happy holidays!


Bonnie said...

Yeah for dolls! I have several of my dolls upstairs in the attic as I type. And, I think I have one of my mom's too.

My grandma gave me a big and little Madame Alexander doll that she then made matching clothes for. She got her fabrics from the LA garment district. Velvet coats, satin bathing suits, ... lots of fun. My guess is each doll was a christmas present but different years. I LOVE DOLLS! And, I have a grand daughter I get to infuse with doll love in the future.

thanks for bringing back fond memories. I have (had?) a Barbie but don't remember playing with her much... I wonder if she is up in the attic too?

brenda morton said...

Hi Kathy,
Loved your story about vintage Barbies, I still have my midge from the sixties and all her clothes. My mom knit a huge amount of clothes and bought more sewn ones from a neighbour and I have kept them all.Both my daughters played with Midge and she still looks pretty good.