Monday, January 20, 2014

Doll-A-Day 20,and The Dolls of Our Lives...(Well, mine anyway.)

  This is another combined post: Doll-A-Day, and my childhood Barbie dolls. It kind of runs together anyway, although you may wonder what today's doll has to do with Barbie dolls. The doll today is this elf doll I got when I was almost three. I've had him longer than any other doll I still own.

Unless you count this guy.

He's just a little rubber guy with a squeaker---that no longer works---in the bottom.

"Little Friend Bear" was bought for me by my sister when I was born, so he's around the same age as me. He was possibly sitting around in the store for a while, so he may be older than I am. Wow. That's old.
  When I was a baby I liked chewing on him.

What's that? You say you bought this for me? Nnuummmm...
  I really liked chewing on him.

Yeah, hold that thought Grama.I just have to...ummm nnmmm...
No, I mean I REALLY liked chewing on him.

Geez, I'm really getting into it here.

    But I guess he's not actually a 'doll', so we'll use this guy. He was given to me one Christmas by,again,my sister. (Didn't realize she figured so prominently in this doll thing.) He's one of those old fashioned Christmas elves, like The Elf on the Shelf. His name is Pixie Brennan. 

"They could have used me." "Save it kid. Your time will come."

 He's what's referred to as a Knee Hugger Elf, because they always have their legs drawn up and their arms around them. His hands would have been sewn together originally, so he could hold his knees. As you can see in the photo below, they were sewn together. Undoubtedly my sister cut them apart for me. She was very big on giving the toys 'freedom'. That's why a lot of our plastic farm animals were cut off their stands and consequently couldn't stand up. Ah, 'What price freedom?'

It says May 1965, but I think this is probably Christmas, 1964. That means I got him when I was just short of three years old.By the way, that's a Sheri Lewis Golden Book under the TV.Still have that too.

Me and Pixie hanging out in my sister's room. Pixie and the Golden Book aren't the only things I still have. I still have that toy phone and I still use that bedside table.

     I played with Pixie a lot, as you can see from his current pictures.And that white thing is not underwear. It serves the same purpose as the striped bandage on his leg, (And the scotch tape on his toe.): It's covering holes.

How about a little cheesecake?

He's a bit worse for wear, but I wouldn't take anything for him. 
Pixie, secure in his place in my life.

He traveled with me. On one trip to Grama's she made him a hat and a pair of pajamas.

I don't know why they're both pink. Maybe Grama thought he was a girl.

  The hat was easy to get on and off. 

Not so the pajamas. Those things were like a second skin.
  Pixie is about a foot tall when he's all stretched out.He has no maker's mark on him. He probably had one of those little paper stickers that was lost ages ago. He is just a cheap dime store elf, something my sister could have afforded to buy me when she was 8 years old.And what does he have to do with Barbie dolls? Well...
As a kid I owned one Barbie and one Ken. 

The only real Ken clothing I own is Night Scene, which is actually for the Mod Era Ken body, but it fits this guy too.He just decided to dress down today. My Barbie is wearing my only real Barbie fashion, Dancing Stripes, which is also Mod Era. There's a reason for her wig. Read on...

Don't get too chummy Ken. She's married you know.

  The opinion seemed to be that I didn't need any more dolls since I had my sister's dolls to play with. My sister had a Polly,(All that remains is her head. She fell apart and her head was bequeathed to a headless doll purse...purse doll.), a Fashion Queen Barbie, a crew cut Ken, a Midge,a Francie, Glamour Misty, Tressy, and the twin blonde swirl Barbie to mine. I can remember the day our dad brought those swirls home from work with him. They were our birthday presents and I got to see them first because my sister was at school. (She is six years older than I am but our birthdays are 9 days apart.) The thing I didn't get to do first was name her. Being the older sibling my sister had dibs on all the doll names. Thus, she had GI Joe and I had GI John. She had Penny Brite and I had Penelope. She had Barbie, and I had....Barbita? (Pronounce Bar-bee-ta.) Pretty awful, but I was only 4 or 5.  My Ken somehow managed to sneak in as 'Ken'. Probably because my sister's dolls suffered from some sort of identity problem. They weren't always the same 'people'. Her GI Joe was sometimes Joe, married to Fashion Queen and sitting around the Dreamhouse in his underwear. Sorry, HER underwear. (Our dad didn't sit around the house in his underwear---or Mom's, thank goodness, and in the era of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver, who knows where she got the idea that guys did that.) But sometimes Joe wore Fashion Queen's brunette page boy wig and was Sonny to Francie's Cher. Of course, Francie wasn't always Francie either. Sometimes she was Cher, and sometimes she was 'That Girl' Marlo Thomas and Ken was her boyfriend 'Donald'.  I may have been boring and had dolls that knew who they were and who they were married to, but then I grew up and married ONE guy. Nuff said. 

  Barbita was married to Pixie Brennan,who was the Richest Man in  the World, but also,sadly, a vinegar-aholic.Talk about pickling your insides. (I guess the miniature gallon jug of vinegar was the only thing I could get out of the 'gumball' machine, and it had to belong to somebody.) I think they must have been my childhood equivalent of my 'World family'.(The dolls in my photo stories,who have a million kids.) Practically every kid doll I got became their adopted child. They have a very big family.

The happy couple. "Is that vinegar I smell on your breath?"
  My sister's swirl Barbie  was, like Mary Poppins,"Practically perfect in every way". Barbita on the other hand... Suffice to say that the swirl hairdo was not the easiest to maintain for a young child. For one thing, it wasn't long before that swoop of bangs started to stray. The more I tried to push it into place, the worse it got. Then there was that ponytail and the smooth sides. Once they got snagged there was no way to fix it without taking the whole thing down. For one thing, I'm not sure that occurred to me. For another, that rubber band got all tangled up in the hair.  What did occur to me was that the hair needed to be held in place, and hey, wasn't that what glue was for? That didn't work for very long though, and soon more glue was needed. Eventually poor Barbita's head was a mass of snarled hair and glue. My sister, ever willing to help (and find any excuse to use those little razor blades that came in the pencil sharpener), shaved Barbita's head for me. The up side was, she could now wear those cool Fashion Queen wigs I coveted so much. The down side was, my sister still needed some practice with the razor blade before she could shave a head without taking off the tops of ears and the tips of noses with the hair. It wasn't too bad, and not noticeable from a distance, but how could she shave off the ears and still leave so much hair stubble on the head? (I think I have figured that out now. The same way years later she could convince me to buy a pair of pants by saying,"They make you look skinny.", and then after I've bought them and am wearing them in public, say, "Those pants make you look huge.") Barbita won out in the end though. She still looks great in a wig. But Barbie... She spent some time in the attic and came back out into the light of day a bit worse for the wear. But her right eyelash and chin were delicious. (I assume. I didn't eat them myself.) Ironically, that hair? Still perfect.

Hi Barbita. Nice "hair".

Well thanks Barbie. I was afraid the colour was a little too...'mousey'... 

Barbie: Sob! Barbita: Yesss! 

I can't bear it!

I touched up the colour on the eyelash, but there's not much I can do about the chin.

The irony of it all. By the way, she's wearing a clone dress that originally had a bolero jacket that matched the skirt part. That must have gone with the Dreamhouse and Fashion Queen.You'll understand if you keep reading.(I wonder about FQ. The only other things missing are another bolero jacket and a faux leather skirt.Not much of a wardrobe.)

My Ken is a Bendleg kind of guy. He has a brunette crew cut and blushy cheeks. 

I vaguely remember holding him in a car in my Mammaw's driveway, so I may have gotten him on vacation.(The only time we ever went to see my Grandmas was once every summer.We always got spending money before we went on vacation, with which I always bought at least one toy.  I always remembered him as wearing a short blue jacket, and yet I don't remember every seeing it again, and we had TWO red and white striped Ken beach jackets. Years later,as an adult who was starting to learn about Barbie and Family I found that Bendleg Ken did indeed come in a short blue jacket. So what happened to the jacket? I think I have that figured out too. My sister always hounded me until she got her way. (Both I, and later one of my kids, bought a blue haired troll to replace the one that my sister hounded me into trading to an anonymous (to me) schoolfriend of hers for an ugly purple and white striped haired troll.) She may have done the same with the jacket and I don't remember it,or she may have just stolen it. As an adult she admitted to stealing Barbie clothes from our cousin Sis. She who steal's Sis's Barbie underwear is not above sneaking her sister's Ken jacket.
  A (very) few years later when my sister outgrew her dolls, (She never was much for playing anyway.), she gave them all to me, along with the Dreamhouse. A few years after that she conveniently forgot she had given them to me and got them out of storage in Mom's attic and gave the Dreamhouse and Fashion Queen to her first husband's nieces. Another few years and she gave the others to her daughter. (Ok, that one I can see. I let my first daughter play with my Ken too. For about a day, until I found out that at the time he was worth about $200.That was a while back!) However, at one point Unsentimental Niece decided to sell them at her yard sale. I happened to arrive for a visit the evening of the first day of her sale. Somehow they hadn't all sold.
Ken though, went the way of the yard sale for $2. (Why had I gone to all the trouble of dividing our dolls when I took mine? Why did I think she would want them back? I could have just walked off with everybody but the long gone Fashion Queen. But no. I'm nice.)
I managed to talk my sister out of allowing Francie to be sold because she was worth something. How stupid am I? I should have just bought Francie for what the kid was asking. (But then, remember, I'm nice.) So then my sister had me sell Francie for her. She also sent along Misty and Tressy. I knew there was no way I could tell her Francie went for $5 and just give her the five. Like an idiot I had told her how much Francie might sell for and it was more than I could afford for a doll. So I watched a stranger walk away with Francie and my sister was $45 richer. Misty and Tressy were a different matter. They weren't worth much and eventually my sister had me sell some other dolls a friend had given her daughter when she was little and with  the money passing to her, Misty and Tressy got lost in the mists of time. (I always loved Misty, with her realistic and graceful hands. Tressy is still wearing a necklace my sister made for her/me when I was little.)

Tressy and Misty hang out with Barbita. My sister made the necklace and the dress on Tressy. The satin dress Misty is wearing came from a garage sale, but is old. Home made? Does anybody know? Misty's soft rubber arms allow her graceful hands to be lifted to her face, although she doesn't hold a pose with them.

My GI John was married to my sister's Midge. 
John definitely has problems. (Or maybe he just lost his castanets.) One wonders what Midge sees in him. From the look on her face, maybe she wonders too.

They both had red hair (It wasn't my fault. My sister had dibs on the brunette guy too.), like me.Unfortunately, red haired John always looked sort of  droopy eyed and not all there. This impression was intensified by the fact that, as the younger sister, I wasn't very good at keeping my dolls 'nice' either. My sister's Joe always came out of storage looking straightened out and quite normal. My John always seemed to look as if he were trying to scratch some unattainable itch. And fell asleep doing so.My sister tried to perk him up for me by shaving off part of his droopy eyelids with her ever present pencil sharpener razor blade.

It didn't help.

    At this point you may be asking yourself, what happened to Midge? Did Midge get sold too? Can John function alone? Well, Midge was saved, oddly enough, by my sister. Not intentionally, but still. Once,when I was about 6 or 7, (after my sister had given Midge to me), I  had a really bad cold. I was lying miserably on the couch one evening watching Dragnet. My sister had been upstairs for a considerable time.Hmmm. What was she doing? Finally she came down, extremely pleased with herself. She was toting Midge. Or, should I say, the FORMER Midge. The ex-Miss Hadley/Mrs. GI John. My sister proudly proceeded to explain how she had "Made Midge Chinese!"  This was accomplished by cutting Midge's flip into a pixie cut, popping a brunette Fashion Queen wig on her, removing her freckles and most of her lip paint (That part may not have been intentional.), and changing her skin tone with a coloured pencil (These were the politically incorrect days of the 60's, and we were Ohio farm girls who had never seen an Asian person in real life and only had a black and white tv.) I couldn't believe it. "But you gave Midge to me!!" I don't remember what immediately followed, but I know I spent considerable time and cleanser trying to turn Midge back into her old self. In the end she looked a little washed out, but nearly like her old self with the addition of Fashion Queen's red flip wig. Of course, the wig went with Fashion Queen and the Dreamhouse when they were given away. But still, she looked so awful nobody else wanted her or thought she was worth selling.That's what I mean when I say my sister saved her. Somehow she ended up with me.

The crowd. Midge, do something with John, please. Midge is wearing the only Barbie dress my mom ever made for us.

So  that's the story of my childhood Barbie dolls. I didn't buy another Barbie until I was in my very early thirties. And that time, there was no stopping me...


  1. I had such Pixies, too. But I did not know they were Pixies. We have no Pixies here. They were called thiefs or robbers, as in the Musicans of Bremen by the Brothers Grimm.
    And I asked as a toddler my mother to cut the hands of one of the first apart, too. I wanted to hold him on one hand, and he should dangle. She said to me the hands would never touch again, she always said such thing to me, like: but the doll's hair will not grow again! which made me feel ashamed somehow.
    And yes, I used to cut of farm animals, too, the tine chicks from the hens, the tiny piglets from the pig, and the got lost the same moment :D And I think my sister told me so, too.

    The story about the lost Barbies is sad. ANd it reminds me somehow on our dolls, too. My sister had some beautiful dolls, which she got before I was born, and which I always wanted (I am the one which adores dolls,m and she never did).
    She gave me her dolls, when she was fourteen or so. I was so so glad! And some times later, she came and wanted them back. I HAD to give them to her. ANd they did not care for them, broke them (as she broke mine, too, by touching celluloid dolls to harsh, for example), and a few years ago she moved to a friend in Bavaria, now she is back for a long time, but has no idea where her dolls ended up. She even does not care, and there were dolls from my Mother's childhood between. This is very sad to me.
    I really felt with you, I understand how much one can love a doll.

    1. I think they are more commonly called Elves, like the currantly popular 'Elf on the Shelf', bu we called them pixies. Gee, your sister sounds like mine. I rescued a lot of her old toys, that I had played with as a kid. She didn't want them and they would have been thrown out if I hadn't saved them. Then years later she decided at some point that she wanted them back. I don't know what happened to the ones I gave her. I know she threw away at least one, a stuffed chimp called Kokomo, because his face became 'greasy'. I loved him so much, and I could have fixed his greasy face, but she threw him away without telling me! So sad about your mother's dolls especially. Even if your sister didn't want them, she should have thought of asking you first. My sister has done the same sort of thing.


Thanks in advance for your comments.