GROWN-UP TOYS – BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY: PLAYTIME


Monochrome with red dress

Portrait of a 1948 composite doll – by Madame Alexander

There’s a reason why I take a lot of pictures of this doll. She was one of Madame Alexander’s originals, named after the girl in the McGuffey reader which was used in American schools for almost 100 years. She was also one of the most popular faces ever produced, with a sweetness that later dolls never matched … and is completely missing from modern dolls.

She was also my best reconstruction. Because she is made of composition material — basically glue, sawdust, paint, and a lot of careful hand molding — she needed quite a lot of repair. Both her feet were eaten away by moisture. I repaired them well enough to fit into shoes, but not well enough to stand on their own. I repainted much of her face. Her wig is new and I sewed the dress and smock myself. I know it isn’t a huge accomplishment, but I don’t sew, so it was a big deal for me. I also made her hat. She is as close to the original as I could create.

BUSY, BUSY – PART BETA

We got the taxes done. Bonnie was still feeling poorly. We came back from getting taxes done and lo and behold, she is feeling better. Better enough to want my sandwich. Which I gave her. Because she hadn’t eaten in days, so what kind of doggy mom would hold back on the sandwich? I thought maybe we’d try her out on upgraded canned dog food. She ate a little of it. Gibbs happily ate the rest. But cold cuts? That she was definitely into. She is still looking a bit peaked, but it’s a far cry from yesterday, so I moved the vet appointment to Wednesday.

What seems to be going on is that she eats something. I have no idea what, but I can guess. The dogs have a fully enclosed yard. Big space for two smallish dogs. Then, she eats something. Paper? Tree bark? Dirt? Whatever it is, it blocks her up and she gets all bloated and sick and then, a few days later, she’s better.

I would take her to the vet if I thought there was a chance of them figuring out what’s wrong with her. This isn’t the first, second, or third time this has happened. Last time … almost a year ago … it was a $600 bill. No medication. Just “wait it out.” Which we did. She got better.

This time, I thought maybe I should skip the $600 and wait it out, at least a few days. What happens when we do go to the vet is that they poke around and find nothing. They take x-rays. See nothing. Offer to run several thousand more dollars worth of tests, which we really can’t afford and usually, they find nothing.

So this time, after she decided she could eat a pound of cold cuts, we thought we’d give her a couple more days to see how she fares. She isn’t vomiting. No diarrhea. No fever. She is willing to eat … if we have food of which she approves.

This is where my desire to be a great dog mom bumps into my desire to not bankrupt us. So I deferred the vet appointment to Wednesday. Let’s see how she is doing in a couple of days. These are times when I fervently wish my dog could tell me what’s going on. Is Bonnie sick? Not so much as five hours ago. Why is she unwell? I’m guessing it’s something she ate … but I have NO idea what, though my guess is paper. She steals it, hides it, and chews on it. Gets sick.

We are getting a little money back on taxes and Bonnie looks better. So it’s already a superior day to what we expected. I hope this isn’t one gigantic hold-out for an upgrade in food prep.

DOLLS

WEEKLY WORDPRESS PHOTO CHALLENGE | NOSTALGIA | THE DAILY POST


The world has changed in myriad ways — huge and subtle — since I grew up. When I was a kid, none of us, regardless of how much money our parents had or didn’t have, got everything. You wanted everything, sure, because kids always want everything … but you got something. In my house, since we didn’t celebrate Christmas, birthdays were the big gift-giving day.

Annabelle - 1952, Mme. Alexander

Annabelle – 1952, Mme. Alexander

Each year on my birthday from when I was three until I was eight, I got one really nice doll. When I was five, I got “Annabelle,” the 1952 special doll from Madame Alexander. She would be my favorite for the rest of my life. Over her long life (she was born in 1952) she has been rewigged, restrung, repainted, and redressed half a dozen times.

I really played with my dolls. They were my friends. I talked to them. I told them everything and I took them everywhere. Everything I did, felt, hoped for, and feared, my dolls knew.

My dolls understood. Always.

Toni (22") Revlon, 1953

Toni (22″) Revlon, 1953

When I was six, I got Toni. She was Revlon’s “flagship” girl doll with hair that could be “permanent waved” using a doll version of the Toni Permanent Wave kit. The set was just tiny plastic rollers and sugar-water and they didn’t really curl hair. They just made it sticky … which attracted ants. So then you had to wash it and you were lucky if the wig didn’t come right off her head.

Madame Alexander as herself - 1985

Madame Alexander as herself – 1985

There was Betsy Wetsy — also from Revlon, I believe (Tiny Tears was made by American Character). Those were the memorable dolls. Lots of little 8″ Ginnie dolls too and too many outfits to recall. Ginnie was in my day what Barbie was to the next generations of girls. It is perhaps a reflection of how the concept of girlhood changed during those years. By the time I turned 9, it was all about books.

From then on, I got books for my birthdays, though usually one other “special” thing too. One year, my beloved bicycle arrived. It was much too big for me to ride. I was a tiny wisp of a thing, but also, the only 9-year-old with a titanium frame Dutch racing bike. I had blocks on the pedals and I had to ride standing up because no way could I reach the seat or use the coaster brakes sitting down. But I grew a few inches. So, by the time I was an adolescent, I could reach the pedals without help. And, I knew I had the greatest bike ever. Tiger Racer and me … we flew!

When I was 11 I got a little transistor radio. It was a big deal, the ultra high-tech of the late 1950s. I was the only kid who had my very own portable radio. After that memory fades …

I slept with my dolls.

As I headed into my 50s, I began searching for the dolls with which I had grown up. Collecting is insidious and doll collecting even more so. I developed a bizarre lust for dolls. I didn’t know I had become a collector until I began to buy reference books so I could identify dolls by model, year, manufacturer, etc. Reference book are the significator of any kind of collector. When your reference collection is far more complete than the local library, you are a collector. Accept it. Deal with it.

These pictures are a sampling of the dolls. I tried to capture something of that ephemeral sweetness the dolls of my generation had. Perhaps show a hint of why they still give me a warm glow when I look at them. They never argue, always forgive. And they never complain and don’t mind if you drag them around by one leg with their foreheads scraping the sidewalk.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

OLD DOLLS, STILL SMILING – BLACK & WHITE SUNDAY

Black & White Sunday: Traces of the Past Y2-06


The subject of this challenge is “old things.” Traces of the past. In Paula’s words: “Make a post containing a photo (or photos) of something that comes from the past (it does not have to be a distant past).” Which is just as well, because ancient is not easy to find locally. Old is easy to find — I can just look in a mirror. Ancient is rather more rare.

I was, for a long time, a doll collector. Although I no longer actively collect, I still have several hundred dolls, mostly hard plastic strung dolls from the 1950s, but some composition dolls from the 1930s and 1940s … and some newer hard vinyl dolls from the early 1960s.

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Most of my dolls are “play dolls,” though I also have some fashion dolls and historical figures that were intended for display, not play. Several of my dolls are ones with which I really played as a kid. They are a little beat up, scuffed. Most of them have been restrung, rewigged, and touched up. Some significant damage hidden by their clothing, but I did the best I could to make them pretty. They deserve it.

Considering some of they are older than me, they look good. A bit dusty, but after 60 or more years, that’s not so bad.

WHEN GOOD SHELVES GO BAD

THE WEDNESDAY MASSACRE

Yesterday, while cleaning, I stood up and my shoulder connected with the glass-fronted curio cabinet. I knocked a shelf and the aforementioned cabinet entirely off the wall. There was a loud crash. It wasn’t the noise that distressed me. It was what that noise meant … that I was about to incur serious losses.


I used to collect things. Pottery — Navajo, antique Chinese and Japanese — and antique sacred Asian art (mostly statues ranging from pretty big to very tiny).

Hard-plastic strung dolls of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s with a smattering of newer girls from the sixties. Tiny stuffed bears. Native American carved fetishes with a strong leaning towards Corn Maidens.

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And art. Paintings, photographs (not just mine, but other artists). Musical instruments. Wind chimes. Teapots.

Survivor!

Survivor of the massacre

There’s more. My husband’s baseball with autographs of the entire Red Sox organization of the 1970s, including Ted Williams.

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A Russian Matryoshka doll (the kind with all the little dolls inside each other).

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The glass-fronted cabinet and one shelf in the living room contain many of my favorite small pieces.

With all that we gave away or sold, the house is too full. At least most of it is on shelves and (presumably) out of the way. And safe, isn’t it? We put up a LOT of shelves, pretty much anywhere they would fit. The dolls are on shelves as is pottery, fetishes, and the small bronzes.

When those two shelves crashed to the ground, first bouncing off a small table and smashing some lovely Italian glass, I could only imagine the carnage. I’m surprised anything survived. Of the two Navajo pots, one came through without harm while the other was reduced to shards.

Gone, but not forgotten

Gone, but not forgotten

Two very old Chinese porcelain vases– one little black one from the 12th century and another from the Jian dynasty (probably 16th century), plus a lovely little “story” dish, probably 15th century, were smashed beyond saving.

The bronzes were unaffected, though the shelf barely survived the fall.

It was my fault. Entirely. No one else did anything to cause the massacre.

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It got me to pondering the transitory nature of things. Antiques would not be so valuable if they didn’t get broken, destroyed, lost through the years. If everything survived through the generations, there’s be no scarcity of ancient artifacts. This line of thought is actually not very comforting.

On the shelf, I thought they were safe. Out of harm’s way. My only enemy was the eternal, unavoidable dust settling on everything.

It turns out, I am time’s enemy.