ANNABELLE – FIRST AND BEST

Annabelle was made by Madame Alexander for one year only, 1952 — the year I turned five.

Windowlight-1

My mother loved dolls, but had grown up poor. She only had one doll in her entire life, a china-headed doll she got from her mother. That was a big deal in a large, poor family. There were six brothers and sisters, so a special toy meant a lot.

Mom loved that doll. One day, the doll fell off her bed and broke her china head. My mother was inconsolable. She said she cried for weeks. Everyone was sympathetic, but she never got another doll.

Annabelle - by Madame Alexander - 1952

Then there was me, her first daughter and the one who loved dolls as much as she had. My sister, who came afterwards, never cared for them as I did.

Annabelle was the first expensive doll with which I was gifted in my girlhood. Annabelle was followed by Toni, a big 24″ Toni with platinum hair and a set of curlers plus “permanent wave” solution. After that, there was Betsy Wetsy, though my mother, in the midst of potty training my younger sister, couldn’t imagine wanting a doll who wet herself.

Many other dolls would follow, but Annabelle always had a special place in my heart. I talked to her, slept with her, dragged her around. I loved her through restringing, rewigging, repainting, and redressing.

After all my other dolls eventually passed into dolly heaven, I still had Annabelle. Right before I left for Israel, I gave her to my friend’s daughter. Loren still has her today.

Annabelle Too

Some years back, I went hunting for a replacement Annabelle. I found her, and she rejoined my life. I even have her original box, traveling beauty supply kit and tag. She’s perfect and obviously had never been loved quite as enthusiastically as I loved her predecessor.

I still do give her a furtive hug now and again. Sometimes, the best person in the world to talk to is a doll that will always smile and understand. That’s my Annabelle.

Portrait of Annabelle

SERENDIPITY PHOTO PROMPT 2015-6

SERENDIPITY PHOTO STORY PROMPT

WEDNESDAY – 2015 #6

Welcome to Frisbee Wednesday where we celebrate … well, whatever. Mainly, we try to write something about a picture. This week’s picture is my own, beloved plastic pal, Toni — by Ideal. She is older than she looks, having be born in 1953. Yet there is not a single wrinkle in her face!

Please try to add your own ping back (links). If you aren’t sure how to do it, put your link in a comment. That works too.

Every Wednesday or until I throw in the towel, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use any of my pictures — or one of your own — as a prompt. If you find my subject interesting, by all means, extrapolate. Any length is acceptable from a couple of sentences, to a chapter from your upcoming novel.

Please link it back to this post (ping back) so other people can find it.

WHAT DO I MEAN BY “STORY” AND “PICTURES”?

Story. Words. Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines, a fanciful tale.

Pictures. Video if that’s your thing. Scanned pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food. Any picture you ever took and would like to talk about.

SIMPLE

It sounds simple. It is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. There are no rules. Follow my lead, ignore me, follow someone else’s idea. Any picture plus some text. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry.

One final thing: If you want to get notices of these posts, you’ll have to subscribe to Serendipity. I’ll try to title relevant posts so you can easily recognize them.

My effort for this week follows.


 STILL PLASTIC AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

My mother gave me Toni for my birthday the year I turned six. She was not my first doll. Annabelle, a lovely, blond girl from Madame Alexander, had that distinction.

Annabelle was (is) a class act, but Tony has better hair. In fact, Toni was and remains, all about the hair.

Toni - From 1953, still beautiful and young after all these years. One of my favorite plastic friends.

She came with a little box containing doll-size curlers and a “permanent wave kit.” These were the years of the “home perm.” Toni perms were the most popular home perm kids, and were quite the “in” fashion statement, the quintessence of early 1950s chic.

The success of a home permanent wave depended on the skill of the administrator (aka “mom”) and luck. Little girls typically subjected to this procedure were those with absolutely straight hair. Ten years later, their ramrod straight hair would be “The Look of the Hippy Generation.” Girls would iron their hair in an attempt to gain what their mothers tried to erase.

In the 1950s, Shirley Temple was the way a proper girl should look. To this standard mommies everywhere aspired on behalf of their daughters.

Shirley Temple Doll portrait

The curlers were teeny tiny and the “permanent wave” was sugar-water. It didn’t so much curl Toni’s hair, as make it sticky and attractive to flies and ants.

From my doll collecting days, I have perhaps 20 versions of Toni, from the compact, economy 14″ size, to the super-size luxury 24″ model. I have her with red, blond, auburn, brown, and dark brown hair. She is still plastic after all these years … and is still all about her hair.

RESTORING ANA MCGUFFEY

I collected dolls for years. Collecting is easy. Restoring is more of a challenge. Before I gave up collecting, I learned to restore my old dolls.

Up front, let me say that I’m not crafty. I can’t sew, crochet, knit, or carve. I can’t change the cartridges in my printer. I can write and I can take pictures. I can draw a bit. And I can cook. Otherwise, I’m pretty much a washout as a craftsperson. But I collected dolls for years. If you collect, there are things you need to do yourself because even if you have lots of money, finding someone else to do them is difficult … maybe impossible. I learned because I had no choice.

This is the best work I did. After Ana McGuffey, I pretty much stopped collecting and promptly forgot everything I ever knew. Use it or lose it.


Composition was the material favored by quality dollmakers such as American Character and Madame Alexander before the 1940s when hard plastic became the material of choice. The changeover from composition to hard plastic was gradual. Some composition dolls were produced as late as the 1950s, though not many.

Composition is basically sawdust, glue, varnish and paint.  It is a very good molding material, but it disintegrates over time. Dampness rots it. Excessive heat will destroy it. Time will have its way with it. Many dolls I love are old composition dolls. Finding these dolls in pristine condition can be impossible. If available, they are costly. Lacking money, I decided to learn to fix them. Old composition dolls in a state of deterioration are not difficult to acquire. If you can repair them yourself, you can get rare dolls for short money … but you will invest many long hours of yourself.

Ana McGuffey 4

Ana McGuffey (of the reader of the same name) was one of Madame Alexander’s most popular character dolls for decades, from the 1910s through the 1940s. Although her face changed with the times, she always had her hair in braids. She wore a pinafore with a floral print dress. Stocking and buttoned shoes.

I finally got a 20″ Ana McGuffey. Half of each foot was rotted away. The paint on her face was chipped and faded and her wig and clothing were gone. She was in pieces and needed restringing.

I replaced her feet by modeling them using a clay-like epoxy material. This stuff is used for modeling all kinds of stuff. It’s difficult to use, but forms a very hard, resin-like substance when it dries.

I restrung her, repainted her face — many failed attempts before I got it sort of right. I found a wig that looked like her original, though not the same material.

Her original wig was made of mohair. While you can get mohair wigs for restoring dolls, they are frightfully expensive and not particularly durable. I also don’t like the way they look, so I went with modern polyurethane. I made the dress and the pinafore. This is not an area in which I excel, but no one was making clothing for this doll. It was me or no dress. I could easily get dresses that would fit her, but they wouldn’t look like her original clothing. I wanted Ana to look close to her original.

She also needed a flowery straw hat and I’d gotten pretty good at buying plain hats and decorating them. I found the stocking and shoes that sufficed, though they weren’t quite what I wanted. I haven’t mastered making shoes, but all things considered I’m proud of this piece of work.

This is Ana McGuffey, Madame Alexander, circa 1930 – 1940. Restored by me.

VIEWS OF HOME – CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE WEEK 7

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #7

Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category. These are parts of the room where I spend most of my time, where I have my laptop, the television, the dogs, and the comfortable furniture. It’s a good room to hang out and  a lot of visual “stuff” going on.

Views of my favorite room.

Sui musicians, very old, but still surprisingly cheerful ... and "Lil" by Evil Squirrel (Bill Brown)

Sui musicians, very old, but still surprisingly cheerful … and “Lil” by Evil Squirrel (Bill Brown)

Ana McGuffey

Ana McGuffey, one of the earliest and most popular of Madame Alexander’s girl dolls. From the 1940s.

Toni by Ideal ... back to back with Ana McGuffey

Toni by Ideal … back to back with Ana McGuffey

A view of the fireplace and mantel in winter's light

A view of the fireplace and mantle in winter’s light

 

AS THE YEAR DRAWS TO AN END – SHARING MY WORLD, WEEK 49

tree and dolls

CEE’S SHARE YOUR WORLD WEEK 49 – CLOSING IN ON A NEW YEAR

What is your preferred hot drink: coffee, tea, water, hot chocolate, or other?

Coffee still gets the number one sport. I like everything else too. Hot chocolate, tea, mulled cider … but coffee is my jump-start on the day.

Without it, I feel like I’m pushing my car up a hill that never ends. Lately, it’s vanilla-flavored coffee, but it may be hazelnut next week. Or plain Columbian bean. As long as it’s hot and fresh, I want it.

What was your favorite toy as a child  . . .  and now?

Annabelle

Annabelle

I was passionate about dolls and oddly, I still am. I have nearly 300 of them. On shelves, in boxes, in display cabinets. Most of them hard plastic dolls of the 1940s,1950s, and early 1960s.

A few older ones made of composite — basically sawdust and glue, which is what they made dolls from before hard plastic injection molding came of age.

Candy factories of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy.

Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Only ONE? That’s rough. I need two … one for dark chocolate, the other for crystallized ginger.

ginger-1

if I had to give up one of the two, I’d go with ginger. But I’d miss the chocolate. A lot.

Would you want $100,000 right now or $120,000 in a year (tax Free)?

I’d take it now. Because I could pay off all the bills leaving just the mortgage. I’d make up the remaining money in no time flat just by not having all those bills to pay. Life would get considerably easier here given a sizable infusion of cash. Very much easier and a lot more fun. Could you toss in a new car, too? With 4-wheel drive please?

It’s your 24th wedding anniversary and you want to get something for your spouse. What do you buy when you’ve been married such a long time and the only things either of you need are things you can’t afford?

Easy! You buy something no one needs, but which will make you laugh. Because fun is always with a few bucks!

I created his and hers Serendipity sweatshirts and they got here a few days ago. Cool. But weeks before I designed the sweatshirts, I had found Robby. Blame the Daily Prompt. While writing about Roomba, the vacuuming robot that couldn’t, I found a website on which someone was selling a near-mint 12″ original Robby the Robot. The one and only original toy robot who is a perfect miniature of Robby in Forbidden Planet.

Robby the Robot Forbidden Planet In box

He walks. Well, more like he stumbles, then falls over. He talks. His voice is the voice of Robby from the movie.

Note: The falling over is not from the movie, but seems to be unique to the miniature.

He says:

“How may I help you?”

“That is correct!”

“I am programmed to respond to the name Robby.”

Unlike modern robotic toys, he is wired to his remote control and what he does best, other than speak — he sounds like Walter Pidgeon — is to stand on the coffee table looking collectible.

Robby the Robot Forbidden Planet unboxed

I am, in case you haven’t noticed, very “into” collectibles. I not only have a lot of them, I used to have an online business selling them. A lot of dolls, but anything old and interesting. Lots of antique, cast-iron doorstops and bookends. I actually did pretty well for three years, until the economy crashed and that discretionary income people used to have disappeared … and my customers with it.

Today, Garry was introduced to Robby. Every time he walked and fell over backwards, we laughed. Now, standing proudly on the coffee table, he is a member of the household. We needed an entertaining, 20-year-old toy robot. Sometimes, a toy is exactly what we need. We are, after all, still children.

If a 12-inch reproduction doesn’t do it for you, you’ll be glad to know that Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is offering a full-size reproduction for $17,515.00. Shipping, at $990.00 is a bit pricey, but in for a penny, in for a pound.

robby-TCM

I AM PROGRAMMED TO RESPOND TO THE NAME ROBBY

Soulful Machines — Machines, appliances, and gadgets sometimes feel like they have their own personalities — from quirky cars to dignified food processors. What’s the most “human” machine you own?


I’m looking around me house at the many machines that keep our life running more or less smoothly. I like some better than others. Use some more than others. Some are quirkier, require more coddling and even an occasional good talking to. But soulful?

72-two-girls

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in this morning … but nothing seems to quite fit the bill. It all seems like plastic and metal and wires today. Except the dolls. They aren’t machines. They are toys, representation of people, mostly young girls. Dressed in pretty outfits. They are souls, I think, in a plastic smiley sort of way. Each a little different from the other.

Dolls and dulcimer

The dolls are everywhere in this house. In every room but the bathrooms and the kitchen. They line shelves, bookcases, any place a dolls might stand and they watch, their sweet faces forever set in a glassy-eyes look of happiness.

BEDROOM SOUTH 10

Not glee. I wouldn’t stand for a gleeful doll. Too “Bride of Chucky” for me. No, my girls — and some Action Figure Guys — are pleased with themselves, but nothing morbid. Nothing frightening. They are my plastic pals. I talk to them and at night, they whisper amongst themselves, making plans for their future.

I can hear them.

BEDROOM SOUTH 14

 

THE DOLLS HAVE IT