Recently, my favorite aunt, who lives in California, sent a box of treasures. She and her husband plan on moving, so they started the task of sorting their belongings. Since I began working on the family tree and preserving our family stories. Aunt Jan sent me a huge box of pictures and papers that belonged to my grandmother. This box contained a wonderful collection of trinkets that I will treasure, including some items that once belonged to my mother, her infamous paper dolls.
While growing up, my mom would often make me play paper dolls with her, and yes, I wrote that correctly, for she made me play with her. In the winter, when our little island would receive rain, mom would gather her paper dolls and the Montgomery Ward catalog, and we would begin the task of setting up homes for “our” dolls. This was my favorite part, setting up houses, for my mama was quite creative. We would cut out furniture and appliances, and on the bed sets, she would take a razor and slice a small slit just below the pillow. This way, once a paper doll’s head poked through the opening, she looked as if she were really snug under the covers.
My grandparents and my mom would often tell me that she was still playing paper dolls when she was in high school. One time while waiting for a date, she passed the time by playing with her dolls. Time flew by and before she knew it, her date was coming up the driveway. Slightly rattled, she didn’t want to get caught and unlisted help from my grandfather. With his giant hands, she reminded him to be careful and admonished, “Don’t not bend my dolls!”
Tucked away in a Jewel T French soap box, I discovered my mother’s paper dolls. For so many years, grandma kept mama’s precious dolls. Each little doll, five in all, had an assortment of clothes, teddy bears, and baby dolls. They were pajamas, dresses, and even winter coats. While gently viewing each item, I discovered that my mom had also made some outfits for them too. On recycled paper, mom traced a pattern for each doll. Each doll had a checked dress that my mom designed and colored herself. From lined notebook paper, she had traced horses for her dolls too, and some even included grandpa’s brand.
While sharing the story with my daughter, she suggested I place these dolls in a shadow box, which will be the perfect way to display and preserve my mom’s treasures. What a sweet find! I am so thankful that I come from a long line of hoarders! Unfortunately, this hoarding trait stops with me. Some how this gene skipped my daughter. Lucky for me, I have three grand daughters that I can enlist, and I plan on teaching each one the importance of collecting our family treasures!
Update: I decided to research mama’s paper dolls, and I found vintage paper doll collections on ebay. The dolls are The Quintuplets, Cecile, Marie, Yvonne, Emilie, and Annette, and they were popular in the 1930s and 1940s. The paper dolls were created after the real Dionne Quintuplets who were born in 1934.