Tough Love: Me and My Dolls

Like every other little girl I knew, I put my dolls into perilous situations that, in my case anyway, resulted in drastic hair damage and loss of limbs.

My favorite doll ended up with one leg and almost no hair. The few white-blond strands she had left by the time I’d played beauty parlor with her I fashioned into a pathetic sort of comb-over. What can I say? I played hard. I put her in harm’s way. I can only blame myself. But we had some good times, before the wheels (and the leg) fell off.

My doll had her own bed and a wardrobe that was handmade by my Aunt Faye. She was my great aunt, actually, and had no kids of her own so she used her sewing skills to make doll clothes for me and  my sister  to play with. She created killer wardrobes that included hats, dresses, coats and capes, underwear, and even tiny roller skates and sweaters.


The Spring Collection

These dolls could play nurse in their nurse’s uniforms, which consisted of tiny white hats and white dresses with embroidered red crosses on the front.


Old school

She made mattresses and bedding for the little doll beds that my sister and I could stack on top of each other to make bunk beds if we were playing nicely together.

We still have both sets of  the doll clothes and the beds, but I have no idea what happened to the rest of the dolls. I mean, the rest of their bodies. No idea. The stuff I have now was stashed in a closet at my parents’ house for decades.

A farewell. . . to arms

When I was six, my family moved to New York for one year. While I was falling prey to every germ known to children, I also came down with  appendicitis and was rushed to the hospital. In a strange turn of events, I contracted the measles while I was in the hospital recovering from my appendectomy. Being highly contagious at that point, I was put into a room by myself. What did I want, besides being able to go home and sleep in my own bed where I wouldn’t be kept up all night by noisy nurses? I wanted my doll! But my parents decided that a bald, one-legged doll wasn’t an appropriately appointed visitor, so they promised to bring me a new doll, with all her extremities intact and a full head of hair.

And they did bring me a new doll. She had lustrous blond braids that came to her shoulders like Heidi. She had two legs, with bendable knee joints.She was the right size to wear my other doll’s clothes. Even with so many fine qualities to recommend her, I viewed this doll as an interloper, a usurper, a carpetbagger. I gave her a civil, if frosty reception when she entered my isolation room. I longed for the scraggly, hop-along doll I’d left at home.This substitute was unacceptable.

There I was, sore and sick and alone, and I wanted to have my ratty old doll with me for company. To be fair, my parents tried to get her fixed up at a doll hospital. We were both going to be in the hospital at the same time! But the doll doctors shook their heads and looked grave.They confessed that their healing capabilities were not up to the task. Just take her home, they advised. It’s out of our hands now, they said. Her fate was sealed. Maybe duct tape would work, but it wasn’t a recommended treatment in their view. Couldn’t hurt to try.

Once I was out of the hospital, I did my best to warm up to the new doll. Gradually, she got to join in the let’s pretend scenarios, but she never got the juicy parts. Those were reserved for a brave, much loved doll who still had one leg to stand on.


9 Responses to Tough Love: Me and My Dolls

  1. Great post! Sounds like your doll was as well-loved as the Velveteen Rabbit. I had very few dolls before Barbie. The Chrissy doll (with the hair that grew longer from the top of her head) was the one I remember most. Loved her … and did chop her hair off so it never grew again (so attempting to see if it would grow on its own!).
    I now have several dolls from my mother-in-law, delicate antique things she dressed and loved in the 30s. I have one in particular settled into an antique carriage in the living room. She does have all her limbs AND her hair, though her hair is a bit of a ratty, uncombable mess. I just put a bonnet on over it. 😀

    Loved this, Risa. Thank you for linking it to the GRAND Social!

  2. Risa Nye says:

    Thanks, Lisa! You’re a doll, and I promise not to pull your hair, or your leg…

  3. Granny-Guru says:

    Mom told me that she must have thrown my doll, Nancy, out when she downsized from her house to an apartment. I was heartbroken. As it happened, Nancy was among my mother’s things when she died. Porcelain head, cracked paint on her face, hair restitched by my Grandmother, wardrobe of clothes made by my Grandmother, a baby doll soft enough to pretend she was real, she is displayed prominently now in my den.

  4. Granny-Guru says:

    And, then, there was the fact that my Grandmother made perfectly gorgeous baby doll clothes that she gave to her church to sell at auction as a fund-raiser, but never made any for me. Until I asked. Then, she made up for lost time.

  5. ~Kc Waddell says:

    I was never a big doll fan — I was much more into stuffed animals. Amara LOVES dolls! And like you she is lucky to have an aunt who loves dressing them — along with making her 2 big beautiful rag dolls — who also have an awesome wardrobe.

  6. Maryellen Curran says:

    Love this Risa!

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