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Where Have All The Doll Babies Gone?

By Staff | Jul 22, 2009

When I was growing up, being the youngest of four children, I often played alone. Of course we had no television, no computer, and no electronic gadgets.

We lived in a modest house, in a safe little town. The entire town functioned as a small family. There was no bad side of town. Most families had a coal miner as the head of the household. My childhood created a lot of fond memories. Other than being fearful of my dad, who only had to give one stern look, and you knew you’d better shape up, there was nothing to fear in that town.

My mother was quite a seamstress. She made most of my wonderful dresses. Females did not wear slacks or jeans in those days.

I have many vivid pictures in my mind of those times. Most vivid are my days playing with doll babies. My mother made a lot of them. I loved my rag dolls. When I think back to those dolls, my mother was very creative and talented at her sewing machine. I had rag dolls of every size. Some had smaller dolls, just like them. As I recall they all had long brown hair made into pigtails and all wore dresses (just like me). Our house had an upstairs, with the steps leading up from one of the bedrooms. My dad had made me a wooden school desk. I played with my dolls on those steps.

I would line them all up sitting side by side. After I had them all arranged as I wanted them, I would sit at my desk at the bottom of the steps. I was the teacher in my one room school. I had all the necessary things to teach school, even down to an old grade book my dad had given me from his school. I remember talking to those dolls just as if they were my students. My parents never commented on this, nor did they ever interrupt my teaching. I can remember the rag dolls had a problem sitting straight up. I never thought about the fact that their bodies were limp. They did get reprimanded many times for their “slumping” habit. I did have many “store bought” dolls too.

The job of dressing the dolls for school was an interesting time too. I guess I had many hats to these dolls. I shifted from being their mother to their teacher fast. I fixed most of them breakfast, fed them from plastic play dishes before I became the teacher.

I have often wondered if the fact that both my parents were teachers had anything to do with my role playing. I am sure I overheard a lot of school talk at home.

As I have mentioned, we had a primitive cabin along the Middle Island Creek. During the school year, we went there most weekends and holidays.

My mother’s parents lived across the bridge. Many of our holidays were spent with them.

One of my most vivid memories of Christmas is one spent with my grandparents. We all decorated a real tree, which my dad had cut down over at his favorite place, McKim. The old house had bedrooms upstairs. That particular Christmas I was quite young. My brother was three years older than me. Glenn somehow always seemed to think he had discipline rights over me. I can still see the picture in my mind of sitting on the bottom step crying, because my mother seemed to stay forever upstairs on Christmas Eve. I was not allowed to go up there for some reason unknown to me. I lingered for what seemed to be hours on that bottom step, crying. Glenn came into that area, checked me out, and said very sternly, “Stop that crying, your mother is upstairs finishing your Christmas present. She is Santa Claus.”

To say I was shocked would be putting it mildly.

My mother was Santa Claus? I don’t recall the rest of the evening. But the next morning very early, we all got up to see gifts.

There under the tree were two new rag dolls, a big one with a smaller one just like her sitting on her lap. No wonder it took my mother a long time to get them done. They had on matching dresses, fabric sandals, fingers, brown pig tails made from yarn.

What a joy that morning. It did have it somber moments when I remembered what Glenn had told me; but I now think I didn’t even believe him. It just couldn’t be true.

Of course we had no expensive gifts, most of our decorations on our lovely tree, were handmade. I could not have been more pleased with my small gifts. We truly had the Christmas spirit.

Compared to today’s holiday, where children are involved, there are usually so many gifts, so much money spent it takes many the rest of the year paying off the debts incurred during the holiday. I do know this was not a problem at our house. I seriously doubt if the gifts are as appreciated as ours were either. Our gifts were either made or purchased for a very small amount. I do know no one could have loved their dolls as much as I did. And I kept them for years.

I would imagine most children would be quite upset these days if they only got the gifts we did.

I can only imagine what my parents might have done had we belabored the fact we did not get all the expensive toys or technical toys kids expect today. The hours I spent with my dolls are some of the most wonderful times of my childhood. But we were no different then, because those gifts were not even available.

Life was simple then. Compared to today, we truly lived in the slow lane of life. I would not trade my growing up days with anyone. My memories are all happy, full of love of not only my own family, but my town family as well.

I can only wonder, where have all the doll babies gone?