As a girl I loved playing dolls and truth be told I still like playing with dolls. My first doll was a red rag doll and I also had a red and white teddy bear. I still have the bear even though he only has one eye now. Among my earliest Christmas memories are trips to downtown to look at wonderful displays of dolls in department store windows. My sister and I would press our noses to the glass and decide which ones were our favorites. A sure sign Christmas was coming was the hum of my mother’s sewing machine behind her closed bedroom door after we went to bed. Every year she made doll wardrobes for our Christmas dolls.
In the late 1940s my sister and I both had small baby dolls which were probably Betsy Wetsy or Tiny Tears dolls. These dolls had rubber bodies that didn’t stand the test of time so only one dress and a bunting made by my mother survive. When I was about five years old my Christmas doll was a beautiful baby doll with a composition head (which became cracked) and cloth body. The Christmas before our brother was born, my sister and I each received nearly life-size baby dolls and we played Mommy. I have a flannel kimono and blanket that belonged to this doll.
In 1949 or 1950 Santa brought me the popular doll of the day. This doll had dark hair that could be washed, curled … and unfortunately cut. I must have given her a really bad haircut because she was discarded a few years later. I still, however, had her complete wardrobe including her original dress. In this last year I decided I wanted to identify and buy a replacement for my missing doll. Since I still had two of my last dolls I had an idea about the size of my missing doll. Here were the clues ... she was probably from 1949-1951, the clothes were too large for the 14" doll I still had, I remembered that she had a human hair wig, the original dress had buttons on the front in the shape of bows, and square snaps on the back, and the dress had attached panties and slip. I searched several doll reference books to no avail. I consulted a "doll expert" on eBay and she believed the doll must have been a hard plastic 16" or 18" Effanbee Honey since that was the only company using human hair wigs at that time. Then I found an ad from a 1949 trade magazine that showed my exact doll. A perfect Nancy Drew Mystery solved! I first bought an inexpensive doll and found that the clothes fit her perfectly. After looking, I was able to buy a dark haired 16” Honey.
I started learning to sew when I started school and learned to make my own doll clothes. I began with hand stitched outfits which I entered in the Lions’ Club hobby fair winning two silver dollars and a red second place ribbon when I was in the second grade. I still remember the thrill … too bad I spent the silver dollars! Soon I learned to sew on Mama’s sewing machine.
I had a best girlfriend that lived two doors down and we played dolls almost every day. If the weather was nice we built houses in our small apartment back yard. We had several old broom and mop handles that we laid out like a house plan complete with a tea set equipped kitchen and beds made of doll blankets and pillows. It always seemed like just about the time we got everything ready it was time to go in for dinner. On rainy or bad weather days we played at my house or hers. In 1952 one of the first events of importance that we watched on television was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in England. We played “Queen” with our dolls using doll blankets for trains and crowns made out of the foil-lined boxes that brown and serve rolls came in.
Indoors we loved to build doll houses and furniture for our tiny dolls with blocks. I had a few doll house pieces of furniture that I bought with my allowance at the dime store. Twenty five cents could buy a nice doll house treasure; I still have a Renwal toy sewing machine, a card table and two chairs, and two tiny dolls.
I am lucky to still have my last two dolls … a 1952 14” Effanbee Honey walker doll complete with her original outfit, wardrobe and accessories; my last childhood doll was an 8” Madame Alexander-Kin Wendy doll with original clothing from 1953. In 1953 I was ten years old and I remember thinking I was too old to play dolls any longer.
Finally, these are the photos of all my remaining doll clothing and accessories. Our family moved to a new house in 1955 and my mother gave me a small antique family steamer trunk to store my dolls, scrapbooks and other keepsakes. The trunk went up into the attic and I never looked into it again for more than twenty years. When I did open it, all my treasures were just as I had left them so many years before and all those memories rushed back.