N2O4Dolls: Today I am very happy and excited to post this interview with my cousin, Phyllis. I thought of asking her for an interview right away when I started the blog because I know how much she loves dolls. I loved reading about her insight into the very special and important role dolls played in her childhood. I also love it that dolls continue to be a source of comfort and joy for her as an adult. I know you will enjoy reading her thoughts below.
Phyllis: A few years ago, I made a scrapbook showcasing photos of some of the dolls I've owned over the years. It was titled "They're Not Just Toys; They are My Friends." The phrase best describes how I feel about my dolls.
When Laura asked me to be a guest on her blog, I immediately said yes, thinking how easy it would be to do. I read through the questions she had sent me, and then went off to make dinner. The next day I was still thinking and continued to ponder my answers for a couple more weeks -- so many memories and emotions surfaced.
In the 60's I grew up on an Iowa farm as an only child whose Mother didn't enjoy guests (young or adult) very often. Since I couldn't reciprocate invitations, I rarely was invited to my classmates' homes. Back then, many days my dolls and cats were my only playmates (and cats really don't care to play dress up for long.) I had several baby dolls, a few child dolls and, of course, a Barbie and Ken. Looking back, my preteen dolls were my favorites. My Skipper with her long auburn hair and my Penny Brite dolls were with me most of the time and I have vivid memories of those two.
I had a great playhouse my mother had made up for me in a small building near the house. I created other "playhouses" in the barns and hayloft. The ones near the rafters of the hayloft were the best, until Daddy had to feed those bales to the cattle. I learned to build them in the far back corners. First hay in, last hay out. Daddy would always leave a narrow path between the hay bales for me to get to my "house". In the loft my dolls had their own hay bale homes with doll blanket beds and whatever clothing I brought out that day. What fun I'd have from mid-summer and into the late fall.
I was blessed to have a grandmother who believed every doll should have a wardrobe. She made each doll extra clothes whether it was a little crocheted blue dress for my troll doll (N2O4Dolls: As a little girl I loved sneaking into Phyllis' room when she was away at college and looking at the troll doll by her bed!!) or an elegant wedding dress for my Barbie. All those outfits made playing with my dolls so much fun. I still have many of the 60's patterns she used to make those clothes and many of those Barbie clothes were passed on to my daughters and someday my granddaughters. Grandma taught me how to make simple clothes for my dolls on her treadle sewing machine and later how to make myself clothes. What a blessing my Grandma was! Maybe she understood that I needed friends. (N2O4Dolls: We had a great Grandma. She made the dolls that I shared in THIS POST and many other things for me as well.)
When our first daughter was old enough, we gave her a "My Friend - Mandy" doll; and I got a "My Friend - Jenny." Following Grandma's example I made many outfits for our dolls. My daughter and I spent many hours playing dolls and having tea with them often in the shade of the maple tree in the back yard. When our youngest daughter was old enough, she got a Mandy doll, too, and joined our fun. (N2O4Dolls: I had a My Friend Mandy doll too. I'm hoping to share more about her in an upcoming post.)
Since that time, I've expanded my doll collecting with other pre-teen dolls. I have a 16" Kelly doll, an American Girl Elizabeth and several others. I don't collect multiples of one type of doll, just ones I think would be a good friend. One doll I got recently is a little doll with such a sad face that I knew she needed a friend.
(L to R) Childhood doll named Luanne, Kelly, Penny Brite, Elizabeth, sad faced doll, and Jenny.
What doll would I still like to have? One Christmas long ago, I asked for a Thumbelina doll. Instead I got twin babies with red hair. I played with them a lot, but they weren't Thumbelina. A few years ago while both our daughters were in college (translate, no extra funds), I saw a collector's version of the same 60's Thumbelina in a catalog. I held on to that catalog for a long time. Maybe, some day.
My someday Thumbelina
What surprised me about thinking and then writing for this blog entry was the realization of how lonely I must have been as a child to have such strong feelings about so many of my dolls. I don't think I realized it then, which was a blessing.
My dolls truly are my friends.
N2O4Dolls: Thanks so much, Phyllis, for your insight and honesty about your life-long relationship with dolls. And thanks for being such a great cousin and friend!