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