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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sepia Saturday - Doll Memories

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

What has struck me in writing for Sepia Saturday is how limited the photographs were in my childhood -   either taken on a seaside holiday  or formal school portraits. Of course there was no flash for the average home camera - so no photographs of Christmas, birthday parties, or playing inside - nor do I have any taken in winter. So finding photos  for this prompt was a challenge.     

There were occasions when I stayed overnight with a friend (and vice versa), but the term "sleepover" had not yet reached us from America,  and it was very much a one-to-one arrangement - not a group of friends.  Even so we chatted into the night and did not get much sleep.  I cannot remember any photographs being taken of the occasion.

The same pattern continued with my own daughter and this is the nearest I can come to this week's theme - as she snuggled down in bed  with her menagerie  of furry friends. 

She  was never a particularly "teddy" girl - panda was her favourite.   Here is Scottie dog, with two owls perched on top of him and alongside  two pandas, a  koala  bear present  from Australia and a  Brownie, knitted from a pattern in "Woman's Weekly" magazine - a great source of ideas for home-made toys for children. 

What struck me in the prompt photograph is the girls looked quite grown up (by today's standard) to be playing with dolls.  

I was a "dolly girl" -  I loved my dolls  which, as my mother was a dressmaker, were the smartest in the street.  With my best friend, Carol, we would wheel  our dolls' prams up and down the street  and put the dolls in their cot (an old box), with a crocheted blanket and lace trimmed pillow and quilt cover, again  courtesy of my mother, or set up the doll's tea set for a tea party.

My dolls were not particularly sophisticated, though I had one that said "Mama" if you pressed it in the right place.  My mother made rag dolls, but my very special doll she made me in 1953 for the Queen's Coronation, with a long fur trimmed purple velvet train, and embroidered, beaded dress.  I so wish now I had kept it as a family heirloom.   

I had a "Last Doll" for my 11th birthday, which seems in today's lifestyle, really old for a doll. The inspiration came from the book "Sarah Crewe or the little Princess", by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, where Sarah was given a grand doll with an extensive wardrobe on her 11th birthday.   I saw the book serialised on television and decided that would mark the end of my "dolly" era - it didn't really,  as I went on to collect costume dolls. 

And no - I have no photographs of my dolls at all.

Around the age of 8, my own daughter had a collection of Cindy dolls - the British version of Barbie, I think - with a lovely wardrobe of clothes again made by  my mother.  

My  little granddaughter shows not the slightest interest in dolls but  she too  struggles to find  a place in bed amongst the myriad of soft toys.

So dolls remind me of my own childhood and my mother's talents - with.   below.  some of the dolls she later made for craft competitions and displays.

An Upside-down Cinderella Doll

My mother Kathleen Weston, nee Danson
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  1. Oh goodness, as a doll lover, all of my life, this is just a special post. Thank you so much.

  2. I don't think 11 is too old for dolls. I know I played with my dollhouse for years after that. Fixed it up and stuff anyway. My own daughters played dollhouse dolls for a long time. My granddaughters never seem to have been into dolls though.

  3. Your mom was a very talented lady! I had many dolls growing up - among them a Sparkle Plenty doll from the Dick Tracy comic strip family, & a doll with 3 different faces: awake & smiling, awake & crying, & sleeping - changed by turning a knob on top of its head encased in a bunting cap. But my favorite of all was a life-size baby doll that wore real baby clothes. When I was 9, I had a bad case of bronchitis which lasted several weeks. I couldn't do anything very strenuous, only allowed to sit & play quietly, so I used to dress and undress that doll for hours. And like you, I wish I had kept her. I can't even remember when I no longer had her which is even sadder. Years later I came across a doll in a flea market that looked almost exactly like her & bought her - resulting in her 'starring' in a Golden Chain Melodrama production as the poor heroine's child. The theatre folks were so impressed with how real it looked they asked if they might keep it for future shows, so I left 'my child' to make its way in the theatre. :))

  4. We had heaps of relations around with cameras, so have so many photos we hardly know what to do with them all.
    Mum was great at sewing and making things - I learnt to sew by making doll's clothes.

  5. I put up a post called Hello Dolly back in 2012 which featured some of my daughter's dolls. We still have them.

  6. I have a small doll collection of rag and folk art dolls. I still think they are cute but nobody, including me, wants them now.

  7. I was never into dolls when I was a child but when I see photos like these I wish I had been.

  8. Is Scotty a real dog? Just by the way, it's a common misconception, but koalas are just that, not bears at all, to which they are totally unrelated. There's even a song on the subject, called "Please don't call me a koala bear" :-)

    1. Thanks, Jo, for enlightening me on the koala. No - Scottie is a large soft toy - he lost his tartan ribbon round his neck.

  9. Your mother showed great talent for sewing and for knowing what things were important to a child.

  10. I think I spot a Jean Greenhowe Brownie in there- made by you I expect?

    1. Quite right - I think it came from "Women's Weekly" . She was such a great designer of children's toys.


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