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Saturday, February 12, 2011

A favorite toy - Dolls

Week 7: Toys. What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog ( has 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History (


I know times were hard, money was tight, The children had a few props for play, and many special items for play from birthdays and christmas gifts that brought them many a fun pass time. I wonder what their favorite toy was?
But of course,We will have to consult Sissy.

Sissy writes:
I never had a Barbie doll. I had a regular plastic doll and a few others, that I spent many days of my young years playing and pretending with them as little girls do. But I think the toy I was most proud to own and took much of my time in the age before teen was the paper doll.

A paper doll is a stiffed paper image of a person in their under clothes and it stands in various ways depending on the construction. The fun part was the clothes and acessories that one placed on them by folding back the tabs at the tops and and at other, various places .

I was given a set of dolls with tons of clothes to play with by Mrs Albert Shelley, while visiting her with my mother one afternoon. Of course my mother protested the generous move, while I held my breath. But Mrs Shelley said her daughter had out grown them, and they were not going to keep them, so I got to bring them home.
Those paper dolls opened up a new world of self expression for me. It also moved me from child to preteen who does care what she wears.

Not the same, but I don't remember for sure.
I think the doll was fashioned after a movie star because she had such glamorous clothes. It could have been Elizabeth Taylor or Natalie Wood or some other dark haired well known star.

After that I began to notice that the dime stores and drug stores held some amazing collections of paper dolls and so my begging and wanting for more began. So my economical, creative mother as they can be you know, demonstrated how I could take a few pictures out of a catalog, glue a back on them, cut out stands so they could stand, and select clothes from the catalog for them.

On one of my birthdays, I remember receiving several small flat plastic ballerinas with a little circle stand and clothes to go on her. Do you remember those? They came from Aunt Amanda just like the ones of Mary's that I had admired. Since I morn to this day, the missed opportunity to attend ballet classes, I'd say I still have an affection towards that little figure who filled in for my loss. She was designed to bring out your creativity, and I did get lost in it for hours. In Photo below is a poor attempt to reproduce the shape and look.

I am sure there are others now in similar make up. Though the vinyl with self stick clothes was a great improvement.

There came a time when my city cousin brought another influence to my paper doll collection. It came about because She and her mother invited me to go to the movie staring Pat Boone in "April Love".

At the time, it was explained to us that Pat Boone was religious in his actions, thoughts and deeds, therefore a reliable person to view in movies. No matter, he was romantic and sweet enough for us.
I think it was my first introduction into romantic thinking. My cousin and I shared being his most romantic fan. He was a popular name in our play. Can you imagine my excitement to discover he came in paper doll form. [He also appeared in a few television shows.] I wanted him so bad! And I got him. I did. I received him for Christmas one year.

Item Description: Whitman no. 1968 ©1959 by Pat Boone. 10.25x12" thin cardboard folder has nice photo on front of Boone smiling along with art images of records and film reels while back cover has photo of him in art image of TV screen surrounded by musical notes. Interior features art of teenage boy and girl looking over a brick wall and set consists of a 7.5x10" thick cardboard sheet with two different punch-out dolls plus 11.5x16" long fold-out paper sheet with color outfits and accessories. Front cover has very minor color rub at lower right, otherwise Exc. Contents are unused and N. Mint/Mint. Nicely designed. [Mine was used.]

I was getting a little older by then and did read more, so the paper doll did not get as worn out as the others. He didn't have to have a Popsicle stick on his backside. I believe I presented my actress paper doll collection from Mrs Shelley to some little girl one day. I forget who, but I almost felt obligated to share the love. I kept my ballerina set and my Pat Boone and I am sure if I dig deep enough I could find them.

They exist in many forms of fantasy and beauty today. They have their place, even though I know Barbies have replaced by far the joy of paper dolls. I know many a mother and daughter created clothes for them.
Just as I did with my other dolls, for I was not given a Barbie.

I never really asked for one, either. I did notice my city cousin, Mary had one, too. But I guess I knew it was useless. Cause you know when Sylvia made up her mind to 'no', there was no going around that
decision. [Same for the hoola hoop]

As I got older, I guess I turned to what the library offered for free in the form of many kinds of books. When one reads, one can go anywhere any way, any time, if one can find the right book. To this day, I especially love the authors who took the time to tell you what the heroine was wearing. Books were always my special favorite thing for a pass time and they fueled my imagination in play.

As adult and mother, I was feeling pretty crafty one year after purchasing some pretty clothes for my daughter that
coordinated together, I made up a paper doll of my daughter, with clothes resembling her new ones and let her play with those. I am sure that those and the other paper doll she had through out her years were not her favorite, cause well, she had the opportunity to go along with the Barbie craze and a few other types that faded in and out that caught our fancy. We should have made up some others as friends to play with her paper doll, but I didn't think of it at the time.

We will see what I do for the children as a grandmother, when the days roll around.

My gosh there were so many kinds of paper dolls out there, if Sissy had only known. If she would have had Internet, I'm afraid she would have had a serious case of I wants and wishes. That Pat Boone was eighty six dollars, maybe you should consider selling it?

On internet there would have been downloads available too.
I have noticed some very pretty paper dolls being offered for download, that make me wish I were young again. I didn't try any to pass along to you today. Use your virus and malware scanner cautiously and enjoy them with your youngsters.

So what was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?
I think you can join in this like I did with thoughts of your own about your childhood toys.
You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

I can think of a ton other play things that developed at the Meyer household and this will do for today. Maybe I have jogged your memory of your favorite toy. I hope so, it was part of my intent.

Amy says your to have fun and that you can interpret the topics any way you wish, just as I did. Think of how glad you would be if you you knew what was the favorite toy of your own grandparents. Take the time to jog your own memories and provide a wonderful wealth of historical information for those who will come after us.
Give it a try. You can start here with a comment.

See you next week.

Other reading:
"There is nothing quite like the feeling of digging in a box of assorted papers and suddenly finding in one's hand an exact replica of a childhood toy. The years slip away with lightning speed, and such a find awakens childhood with all its simplicities and joys. If the collecting bug for paper dolls has not yet bitten you, it just may. It can be an inexpensive pastime that requires little storage space, or it can grow into a hobby as extensive as collecting antique dolls. And best of all, it is an activity you can share with children of today, teaching them manual dexterity, history, fashion and art while you have great fun together. Once you begin collecting paper dolls, they can become one of life's great passions.
-Betsy Mc Call