click away now, it's a giant post on dolls

I hardly ever look in the mirror - I just go about my business.
But the other day, I glanced over my shoulder and looked at my hair and decided that I looked exactly like the first doll I remember having.
Chatty Cathy.
chatty cathy
I had those little bangs.
And the color was remarkably similar.
So - what I decided to do was: go find a photo of Chatty Cathy to show to you.
I found this one too -
chatty cathy in bermudas
Cathy in bermuda shorts - if you will...

Of course, this searching for Chatty Cathy pictures started me thinking...(cue dream music and soft focus) what other dolls did I have?

I loved dolls. LOVED THEM.
I had baby dolls -
This Thumbelina had a pull string that made her, um, writhe.
My friend Jane and I spent hours feeding our Thumbelinas cold cream (as in: the stuff our mothers put on their faces to remove make-up) on small spoons. We weren't stupid either, realizing that our dolls were too small for real babies we told each other that they were preemies and therefore needed extra attention.

I had this doll too -
she was called Velvet, which is just the stupidest name for a doll in the world.
She had a knob on her back, which when turned would wind her hair up inside her body.
A button on her hard plastic body released the hair so that it could be pulled out of her head to the desired length. I found her annoying. First of all, there were not a lot of clothes for her - and what could one pretend she was? Too large for a "fashion doll," too small to be my child, she was in the dead zone of dolls. And the hair?
Terribly annoying when short and ridiculous when long (down to her feet).

I had lots of other dolls - gorgeous baby dolls from fancy toy shops and a couple of precious china dolls.
I never much cared for those Madame Alexander dolls. I was pretty young when I discovered that they all had the same molded head that varying hair and eye colors were added to and felt cheated.
I also had an international doll collection - which I loved, but didn't really play with. Any time friends or relatives traveled overseas they would bring me a doll in a national costume - I so clearly remember the Spanish one that my aunt brought me with her silky dress and mantilla...

When I was about eight, I fell in LOVE with Liddle Kiddles.
kiddle illus
This is what they were supposed to look like. Each had a theme and very cute tiny accessories.
It's not easy to find photos of them - I suppose they were too small to survive all these years, but they were so collectible that I am a little surprised that Mattel didn't re-issue them.
kiddle 2
I can remember what they smelled like! (freak)
I'm sure my parents bought me each and every one.
I even owned the spin-off alien versions...
antennae kiddle
I can distinctly recall the feel of this one -
and the face of this one.
space kiddle
I know for a fact that it was difficult to use these in my imaginative play -
they could not be babies and I always hated the martian in the Flintstones (a very stupid plot device that nearly insulted my sensibilities). And I am quite positive that I discarded the stupid space ships pretty quickly after acquiring the dolls.
Kiddles came in wee soda bottles for a time, and perfume bottles with scent on them as well as in versions that were only about an inch high and locked in jewelry.
I spent hours playing with them.

But it all just lead right up to the ultimate.
The perfect doll.
Although, looking back, and laughing, Barbie herself was not my favorite.
And WHY?
She was too busty for me (and, sadly, eventually, I would be too busty too).
Plus I could not get myself used to her FEET. They were stuck in high heel position, and you know, I like comfy yet attractive shoes.
So I really gravitated toward Francie. And Twiggy.
And, believe it or not, a Stacie head on a Francie body. Francie, you see, was supposed to be an older teen and so, as such, she had a smaller chest and was flat footed.
I spent years playing with these dolls and their clothes.
dream house
Their cardboard house.
Which I was delighted to see photos of on eBay, of course.
It was pretty big - that's Ken's barbecue in the back...
In a feat of paper engineering, it opened into a couple of rooms - with a patio out back.
The sliding door was a bit tricky, but one could stand their doll at it and get down on the floor and it all looked so REAL.
DH above
Most of the rooms and furniture were pink. But in those days, Barbie was still permitted some other colors to be within her realm.
dream house LR
I loved those shutters, but I think I remember that the couch was difficult for Stacie to sit on.
This house was just the ultimate toy for me.
I constructed lives and wardrobes and stories that I can still recall.
I played with Caroline, who lived down the street. And who, I realized at the tender age of six or seven, had the most beautiful blonde hair and the straightest thinnest most perfect legs. My thighs touched. I knew it then.
There were other "Barbie Dream Houses" over the years.
But none were as wonderful as this one.
And I really believe that I knew then, at six, that I wanted most to do what I am doing now.
Forty years later.


Anonymous said…
It totally struck me, as I was reading your post, that you were imaginatively preparing yourself for the delightful life you are living today, and then you said it yourself.
Jennifer said…
I can remember the smell of my dolls too. It's strange isn't it!
Anonymous said…
Those kinds of dolls scare me a little. :)
lazy cow said…
My sister and I had Velvet, and Chrissy and Cinnamon. Dad recently found Cinnamon tucked away under the house for my sister. I'm so jealous. I want my Velvet! I loved the way her blonde hair came out. But that was the extent of my loving dolls. Creepy things, the opening and closing of their eyes just freaks me out.
I used to have a fringe like your Chatty Cathy. Which is why my hair is all one length now. I'll go away now.
Anonymous said…
Wondeful post - I loved Liddle Kiddles! I think today's version are Polly Pockets, although they don't make perfumey ones
Punchbugpug said…
Unbelievable to have all the same dolls! AND the ultimate dollhouse. I even can remember distinctly the day my grama bought it for me. She was my daddy's mom and she NEVER bought anything "useless" for us...we got clothes, rosaries, etc!!!! When she actually let me pick out this dollhouse I nearly FLIPPED!!! Thanks for bringing back the memory!
Elan Morgan said…
I used to play with that exact Barbie house at my aunt's! I loved it and thought it was so much better than the new one my friend had. It just seemed more diverse.

I love this entry. Hearing about people's childhood toys is a fascinating look into who you are.
Paula said…
I had a Baby Party, you put one of those curly horns in her mouth and pulled her arm and it (the horn) unfurled. I also had this wierd ballerina doll with a crown you could use to make her spin. I'm shaking my head remembering this.

I wish I still had my Barbies.
Badger said…
Love. This. Post.

My first doll that I remember: Tippy Tumbles.

My favorite baby doll to which I fed my mom's cold cream: Baby Tender Love.

My favorite Barbie-like doll(s) besides Barbie: The Sunshine Family.

I only regret that I was too old for Baby Alive. That was one scary-ass doll.
Elizabeth said…
I totally forgot about the martian in the Flintstones. Must have blocked it out of my mind. I had Little Kiddles and I adored Francine, even though I had only Barbies. Go-go Barbie, in fact with a purple fringe long suede vest and orange mini dress and shimmery orange tights. And go-go boots of course. It was the 60's, what can I say? I think this is when they first started to make Barbies with bendable legs and boy was it hard to get those tights off those rubbery legs.
Jess said…
I was wondering why you had all those doll photos on flickr...all is now explained. You really DO craft your posts!

I grew up in a world of homemade dolls, mostly, but there was one Christmas when I was given two plastic dolls - a girl and a baby. The girl had blonde hair and I thought it was so glam. She's in a box somewhere, and she's showing her age - her hair is literally grey now and her cloth body is all discolored from dunks in the swimming pool. The baby doll survives in my closet to this day, with only one arm intact, because I use her for pretend baptisms in Sunday School.
BabelBabe said…
I adored Barbies (wouldn't have guessed that about me, would you have?) and still have them, including two big suitcase-y things full of outfits and all the furniture that went in t he dollhouse. Which my dad built for me but that got pitched sometime between college and when I got all my stuff from my mom's house
: (

My show and tell is up, btw.
Anonymous said…
oh gosh blackbird...thought you should see this.

it's my friends' livejournal page....if you read the bottom of her post, she mentions some clothes she bought.

well, i came over here and read this post, and so go there and read that part, and then scroll down until you see the pictures *amused* (obviously, i'm the one who wrote in pink)

word verif is wkkame...wack-a-me :P
Caterina said…
Love this post (too). For some reason it made me tear up real bad. Actually I think I know why.

I had a Baby Dreams. She went everywhere with me....EVERYWHERE.

I also had a Baby Alive. After feeding her I would try to clean her up. Wash her face and stuff. She must've gotten too 'clean' because her face began to decay (maybe from the water?) and fell off piece by piece. I gave my Baby Alive leprosy!

Thank you for this post. It made me laugh & cry.
sara said…
I loved this post -- it made me remember all of my old dolls. Whatever happened to them? I don't know.

The Cabbage Patch Kid era hit when I was in the third or fourth grade and that was probably when I fell hardest in love with a doll. I used to go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings with my allowance and buy handmade doll clothes from one of the little farmers (his wife made them and he sold them next to his berries & corn.)

I played with my Barbies until I was fourteen and the shame became too overwhelming.

The good old days...*sniff*
Caro said…
This was a wonderful post.

You made me remember some of the dolls I had.

Neither of my two daughters like dolls, strange freakish children. :P
Anonymous said…
you so take me back! i had a chrissy and a velvet! and check out my blog on May 1:
to see the liddle kiddle I found in mint condition at a junk store!
i remember the smell of them too--the first thing i did when i found my liddle kiddle was sniff it but it didn't smell like i remembered....
Anonymous said…
I know I had dolls. Funny that I can't remember them at all. What the hell was I playing with that I can't remember the dolls?
jenny said…
I used to love my dolls, my mom was kind enough to save a few of them for me. Strawberry Shortcake still smelled like berries after 25 years in a box - a little frightening in itself...

But dolls with porcelain faces? creep me right out. I'll post you a picture of the GIFT my mother in law sent home with the girl.
Anonymous said…
i got cought in it as soon i started to read it! for i used to make all my friends,(they were all boys)play with me they were ken and i was barbie. i still have like more than 100 still. oneday i got my fav barbie and i brushed her hair for at least an hour, but her hair ended up being to pofy and she was not my fav anymore oh well.
Anonymous said…
I also had the Velvet Doll and she was my favorite ! I kept her for years and in good condition. When I was 16 we moved away and I wasn't allowed to keep my dolls etc so I gave it to my neice to "look after ". Needless to say her day gave it away ( I was bothered by this ). But am happy to say a few weeks ago ( after 35+ years ) I found one at a thrift store in good condition and bought her . Some fond stories told to my kids and Grandkids :))
Anonymous said…
I mean her " Dad " oops

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