Other Types of Doll Making · Stray Comments

Happy Birthday Mom

My mom and dad on their wedding day.
My mom and dad on their wedding day. My mother was 18-1/2 when this photo was taken.

Today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom!

My mother's Shirley Temple doll is wearing a celluloid pin I bought because it reminds me of my mom.
My mother’s Shirley Temple doll is wearing a celluloid pin I bought because it reminds me of my mom.

I have always loved dolls, and as far as I can tell my mother did too, although I don’t think that she had an abundance of dolls when she was growing up.  As a child of the depression, born just 10 months prior to the stock market crash of 1929, she had a somewhat stark childhood.  I have the Shirley Temple doll that was the last doll she received as a child and the only one she kept.  Later in life my mom began collecting dolls.  She had one large bisque doll, quite a few composition dolls and a whole armful of vintage dolls in international costumes.  She even bought a fair number of hard plastic dolls.

I've owned this doll since I was five.
I’ve owned this doll since I was five.

When I was five, Mom bought me a composition doll at Goodwill for a quarter.  She was my very first vintage doll!  I was only allowed to play with her in the house, because my mother was afraid I would drop her on the concrete driveway or sidewalk and break her.  I still have that doll, who survived my childhood and remained unbroken until my husband stepped on her and cracked one of her legs.  If I was especially good I was permitted to play with Mom’s Shirley Temple!

My mom is the one in the yellow dress.  I'm standing in front of her.  This was the only year in my whole life that I had short hair!
My mom is the one in the yellow dress. I’m standing in front of her. This was the only year in my whole life that I had short hair!

The dolls that I love best are older than my mother’s favorites.  I rather think that she wouldn’t have liked the antique painted cloth dolls that have captured my heart and I’m positive that she didn’t share my passion for early wooden dolls.  But in the best motherly tradition, she was happy to go with me to doll shops and was excited for me when I bought my first true antique dolls.

I don’t have much time these days to work on doll projects of my own, but one of the things I have wanted to do for several years is to make a pair of reproduction 18th century wooden dolls.  I’m hoping that 2014 is the year I get to make this dream come true.  I plan to name one of the dolls after my mother and make her wig from some of my mom’s hair that she cut off when I was a baby (she got tired of me pulling on her long hair ).  The second doll will be smaller and her wig will be made with my hair that I’ve cut and saved (doll makers don’t throw anything away).  Working on the dolls will be a nice way to spend time remembering my mother and all of the things we liked to do together and a keepsake that reflects our shared passion for dolls and memories of long ago childhoods.  www.izanahwalker.com

13 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mom

  1. What a wonderful Happy Birthday tribute to your mom Paula! I loved the photos of your family! It doesn’t matter how old one is or how old one’s mom was when she passed on – the memories are just as special and just as strong. Thank you so much for sharing a few of the memories of her! Charlotte

    1. Charlotte,
      It was wonderful having a mother who would do doll things with me. Every summer we would pick one day and bathe all of my dolls, do their hair and wash their clothes, then line them up on our wide front porch to dry. Although my mom was a very good seamstress, she didn’t really love to sew. Even so, she would occasionally make me doll clothes, which I still have. She made them with as much care as full size clothing and they stood up to years of play.

      I doubt that she ever imagined that I would still be playing with dolls 🙂

      Mom would have loved all of the great clothes and accessories that you and Arlene made!

  2. Hi Paula, this is such a sweet story. My mom is still with us and she turned 87 this year in September. I can see that our parents were born during the same era. My mom also had a Shirley Temple Doll. The doll was a gift to my mother from one of her older sisters while my mother was in the hospital having an operation. So both our mothers grew up during the Depression years. The Shirley Temple Doll is long gone now as mother came from a very large family. I always remembered mother telling me about her Shirley Temple doll and I searched for one from that era. I now have two of them. One 13″ and one 18″ both composition. The larger one has her original wig in perfect condition. I also wanted to take this opertunity to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be getting up early to make our very special Christmas Nut Roll that came from my fathers family. It takes all day and half the evening to make it all, since the sweet dough has to rise all morning. The recipe makes 12 Nut Rolls but I have figured out a way to get two or three extra because I have to mail some to family and friends out of state. It also freezes very well. I always try to keep one roll frozen until Feb. or March and enjoy it then. Our family Christmas Nut Roll is so delicious on Christmas morning with coffee or tea. My sister Sue and I are the only ones in the family who are now making it. We both were taught the recipe when we were young. I will have to pass in on to one of my grandchildren when they are old enough to bake with me for a whole day and half the evening. Learning to make it for us was easy because my sister and I learned to cook and bake at an early age, as we came from a large family too. We always went to mid-night mass on Christmas and came home to a feast of stuffed cabbages, hot and fresh sausages, and of cource the nut roll. We still do it but my mother had to change the time to much earlier when all the grandchildren came along. I’ll have my mother here at my new home for our first Christmas in a new house. It’s special to me to have her come and be with all of us and remember all the wonderful Christmases we had with mother and father. My father is gone now, 3 years ago, but one memory I have is him taking a picture of us children in front of the Christmas tree with his poleroid camera, and us children waiting for the pictures to develope right before our eyes. Happy Holidays to all. Fondly, Mary Goddard.

    1. Mary,

      Merry Christmas to you too! Your nut roll sounds fantastic. I hope your baking day goes perfectly.

      Since my mother’s birthday was so close to Christmas, during my childhood we always decorated our Christmas tree on her birthday. I brought one of my feather trees down from the attic today to decorate, so that I could carry on that tradition. My kids and I decorated our large tree last Friday night.

      My mom got her Shirley Temple doll in a very round about way. She had an uncle who was only a few years older than she was. This young uncle, Jack, had a friend who happened to have several sisters who were too old for dolls and were giving all of theirs away. Jack told his friend that he had nieces who still played with dolls, so three of the dolls were given to my mom and her two sisters.

      When Mom started collecting dolls, she bought a smaller size Shirley Temple that is in much better condition. My sister has that doll now.

      We had a Polaroid camera too, in fact my dad still has it! He actually managed to buy film somewhere and still occasionally takes pictures with it!


  3. Paula, I just loved your memories of your mom! My mom would be 98 years old now…she died at age 96 and I miss her. But I have such lovely memories of her and her enjoyment of life. My husband and I took a little Christmas tree, a cat and an angel, to her grave last week. She loved Christmas, she loved cats and she loved angels.

    Aren’t we lucky to have sweet memories? And to know that we did the very best we could for them?

    Billie Aye

    1. Billie,
      We are lucky to have our memories! I miss my mom too. She’s been gone for a long time, but I still think “Mom would love that” when I see something great.


  4. Paula,

    Thank you for sharing your mom’s birthday, and memories of her, with us. I just love old photos, especially of Victorian dress and girls with their dolls. But the best old photos are those shared from someone I know, and those that have a story to go with them. I’m so glad I figured out how to use my scanner (after owning my printer for 5 years!?) so I can post vintage photos now. I loved your photos and your story. Though I would, like Tasha Tudor, live in 1840 if I could, I love some things about technology, like this venue for sharing stories. Keep it up!

    Truly, Jennie

    1. Jennie,

      Photographs are magical! They transport us to another place and time and allow us to once more glimpse the people and things that fill our mind’s eye and make up our memories.

      Lucky for us, even if we chose to immerse ourselves in the 1840’s we can still have Daguerreotypes 🙂 and if we stretch just a bit into the 1850’s and 60’s we can have ambrotypes and tintypes too!

      I totally agree, some bits of technology like scanners and digital cameras are very worth having. Especially cameras and software that let you recreate the look of old photos!!!


    2. Jennie,

      I forgot to add that my mom loved photographs too. She had lots of cameras and took home movies as well! One memorable Christmas she scorched the dining room table when she laid one of the huge old flash attachments with a hot bulb on the table – it became one of our family legends – LOL Of all the cameras that Mom owned, my favorite is still her Brownie box camera, which now lives at the top of one of my father’s closets. I hope he never gets around to closet cleaning, or if he does, that he throws the camera my way 🙂


  5. Paula,

    The stories keep coming, and that is mystical, because that is how most of us (those who aren’t mystics) keep our loved ones who have passed on with us. My brother has my father’s old 35 mm camera in its brown leather case. My mother still has her Brownie Hawkeye camera that uses the big bulbs that you eject after each flash. Her first job, when she was 16, was at an office photo supply shop in Beatrice, NE, where they developed film in the basement. The owner, Ralph Roszell, was a photographer in the first half of the 20th century, and lost his hand in a photography related accident (flash or chemicals?), so he had an artificial hand. (My mother just related all this information to me as I am writing. 🙂 ) She went on to X-ray tech school, then later, worked with old photographs at the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln.

    When I die, I want the Simon & Garfunkel song, verse from “Bookends” played for me:

    Time it was and what a time it was, it was
    A time of innocence, a time of confidences
    Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
    Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you


  6. Paula,

    Another thought, too: It’s not just people who have passed on that photographs capture for us. As you said, it is times that have passed on that re-live in us through the photos. I miss being a mother with my young children; hence, the photos in my posts of when they were young.

    Good cheer,

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