A Tale of Two Dolls

From Susan/Miranda:

With an eye to Mary Jo’s continuing retrograde, I’m going seriously low-tech this week. I’m going to talk about dolls.

I’m writing this in Williamsburg, Virginia, where I’m visiting for week (and where the current weather is much like an aquarium on the cosmic back burner). If we’re searching for one of the ways to inspire the next generation with a love of the history and fiction and the two combined, then we should look no further than Miss Felicity Merriman. If you have a daughter/niece/granddaughter/neighbor girl or were yourself born after 1990, then likely you need no further introduction to this 18-inch historical powerhouse with green eyes, red hair, and cheerfully unceasing smile.

But if you’ve somehow escaped, (or only know boys), here’s a quickie bio: Felicity Merriman was the first doll of the American Girls Collection, introduced by the Pleasant Company fifteen years ago. A “spunky, sprightly nine-year-old girl” who lived in colonial Williamsburg, Felicity is not only a doll, but the heroine of her own historical fiction series.

Personally, I find the books grimly earnest in their pursuit of both Amusement & Education, but then I’m not seven-to-eleven years old, the targeted market. And wow, does that age group love Felicity. She’s sold thousands and thousands of dolls and books, and she’s launched a good many trips to Colonial Williamsburg, too, judging by how many dolls are clutched in the sweaty grasps of little girls trudging along Duke of Gloucester Street. (CW sells the books, but not the dolls, nor their clothes or other paraphernalia). These girls experience Williamsburg not only for themselves, but through their dolls’ eyes, too, as a kind of informed historic familiar that’s propped up on the seat in hired carriage rides so she can “see” along with the rest of the family.

Felicity also paved the way for a whole clan of other historical American Girls dolls and books of the past. Others include an African American girl who escaped slavery to live in Philadelphia and a Hispanic American girl living in the 19th century southwest.

They’re a pretty cool bunch, these American Girl dolls. They’re plucky, the way Nancy Drew used to be plucky. They have great hair. They have adventures. They make good choices, and bad ones. They have friends who happen to be boys, but no boyfriends. They have mastered the art of being in the right place at the right time, too, so they always get to meet famous, important historical people, and, in Felicity’s case, be smack-dab in the middle of starting the whole American revolution.

In fact, except for having no boyfriends (which is perfectly O.K. for nine-year-olds), they’re suspiciously like a lot of our heroines. Clearly the future readers of historicals could be in a lot worse hands than the dimpled plastic fingers of Felicity and her friends.

All of which made me think of another doll, one with far less responsibility and marketing savvy than Felicity. For my sixth Christmas, my grandmother sent me a small doll that I called the “Princess Doll”. She never had any other name, just the Princess Doll. Thanks to my grandmother’s love for me and her prowess with a sewing machine, the Princess Doll had a whole wardrobe of ball gowns, tiny crowns made of silver rick-rack and rhinestones and glass pearls, even a black velvet cloak trimmed with a scrap of mink.

Dressed to kill like all good royalty, the Princess Doll was put through an endless string of adventures, rescues, and near-misses. She didn’t live in any specific era, only Some Other Time that wasn’t 1960s New Jersey. The Princess Doll made daring climbs up mountainous sofas. She led breathtaking missions to pilfer cookies from the kitchen. She even rescued lesser stuffed animals from that Grendal-like monster of all monsters, the family cat. Her courage and resourcefulness were matched by her constant glamour. She was only limited by the rich outlandishness of my own imagination.

Which, come to think of it, is a lot like my heroines, too.

I think that the storytelling impulse is something we’re all born with, long before books and reading enter the picture. We all want to explain things that happen in our lives, or understand them, or escape them, and stories remain the best way anyone has discovered for doing this. Whether we whisper stories to dolls, or read them to children, or exchange them in a blog on the internet, the real power of storytelling itself never changes.

So now I ask you: what fed your imagination as a child? Did you play with teddy bears or dolls or toy soldiers, or (I did this, too) make your own corps du ballet in the peat moss from pansy blossoms?

69 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Dolls”

  1. I grew up in the times of Barbies and Cabbage Patch. I can’t say I ever has any really nice dolls, I was a bit rough with my toys. I also used my brothers Gi Joe type action figures for Barbies romantic interests. I love visiting Williamsburg, especially Colonial Williamsburg. I live about a half hour away, and don’t get up there as often as I would like to. I love your books by the way!!

    Reply
  2. I grew up in the times of Barbies and Cabbage Patch. I can’t say I ever has any really nice dolls, I was a bit rough with my toys. I also used my brothers Gi Joe type action figures for Barbies romantic interests. I love visiting Williamsburg, especially Colonial Williamsburg. I live about a half hour away, and don’t get up there as often as I would like to. I love your books by the way!!

    Reply
  3. I grew up in the times of Barbies and Cabbage Patch. I can’t say I ever has any really nice dolls, I was a bit rough with my toys. I also used my brothers Gi Joe type action figures for Barbies romantic interests. I love visiting Williamsburg, especially Colonial Williamsburg. I live about a half hour away, and don’t get up there as often as I would like to. I love your books by the way!!

    Reply
  4. I was more of an animal kid (in almost every way, LOL!). I had a pony (then a horse). An endless parade of dogs, cats, birds and other wild critters (raccoons, possums, flying squirrels, etc.).
    Honestly, I don’t remember any toys as particularly dear, with the exception of my Tonka Dump Truck, which in a pinch could be used as a skateboard. I do remember specific books as near sacred. The first being a child’s guide to ants. I LOVED that book. The honey ants of Australia were an obsession, and then (like all kids it seems) I discovered dinosaurs!
    While you’re in Williamsburg don’t forget to pop into the milliners shop and say HEY to Janea Witacre and her team of amazing seamstresses. Janea is a doll, and SOOOOOO knowledgeable (she has great stories about cooking over their hearth!).

    Reply
  5. I was more of an animal kid (in almost every way, LOL!). I had a pony (then a horse). An endless parade of dogs, cats, birds and other wild critters (raccoons, possums, flying squirrels, etc.).
    Honestly, I don’t remember any toys as particularly dear, with the exception of my Tonka Dump Truck, which in a pinch could be used as a skateboard. I do remember specific books as near sacred. The first being a child’s guide to ants. I LOVED that book. The honey ants of Australia were an obsession, and then (like all kids it seems) I discovered dinosaurs!
    While you’re in Williamsburg don’t forget to pop into the milliners shop and say HEY to Janea Witacre and her team of amazing seamstresses. Janea is a doll, and SOOOOOO knowledgeable (she has great stories about cooking over their hearth!).

    Reply
  6. I was more of an animal kid (in almost every way, LOL!). I had a pony (then a horse). An endless parade of dogs, cats, birds and other wild critters (raccoons, possums, flying squirrels, etc.).
    Honestly, I don’t remember any toys as particularly dear, with the exception of my Tonka Dump Truck, which in a pinch could be used as a skateboard. I do remember specific books as near sacred. The first being a child’s guide to ants. I LOVED that book. The honey ants of Australia were an obsession, and then (like all kids it seems) I discovered dinosaurs!
    While you’re in Williamsburg don’t forget to pop into the milliners shop and say HEY to Janea Witacre and her team of amazing seamstresses. Janea is a doll, and SOOOOOO knowledgeable (she has great stories about cooking over their hearth!).

    Reply
  7. One of my loveliest dolls had rather a torrid affair with my brother’s GI Joe.
    When I got too old for dolls, I was heavily into period paper dolls. I’d pored over fashion history books so I could draw their dresses accurately, and make up scenes and stories for them to perform.
    Toy soldiers were always fun–my dad had an extensive set. We’d set up battles on the sitting room floor.
    Water engineering was a big thing in the summertime. By which I mean my brother and I would turn on hoses and build dams and divert streams and create canals. We got wet and muddy and had a blast.
    Various family members took me to Williamsburg on several occasions…I dreamed of working there when I grew up, so I could wear Colonial costume all day long!

    Reply
  8. One of my loveliest dolls had rather a torrid affair with my brother’s GI Joe.
    When I got too old for dolls, I was heavily into period paper dolls. I’d pored over fashion history books so I could draw their dresses accurately, and make up scenes and stories for them to perform.
    Toy soldiers were always fun–my dad had an extensive set. We’d set up battles on the sitting room floor.
    Water engineering was a big thing in the summertime. By which I mean my brother and I would turn on hoses and build dams and divert streams and create canals. We got wet and muddy and had a blast.
    Various family members took me to Williamsburg on several occasions…I dreamed of working there when I grew up, so I could wear Colonial costume all day long!

    Reply
  9. One of my loveliest dolls had rather a torrid affair with my brother’s GI Joe.
    When I got too old for dolls, I was heavily into period paper dolls. I’d pored over fashion history books so I could draw their dresses accurately, and make up scenes and stories for them to perform.
    Toy soldiers were always fun–my dad had an extensive set. We’d set up battles on the sitting room floor.
    Water engineering was a big thing in the summertime. By which I mean my brother and I would turn on hoses and build dams and divert streams and create canals. We got wet and muddy and had a blast.
    Various family members took me to Williamsburg on several occasions…I dreamed of working there when I grew up, so I could wear Colonial costume all day long!

    Reply
  10. Sweet post!
    Well although I had enough dolls to form an army that could’ve marched on Barbie HQ (I had no Barbie’s, think mom thought she was a cheap tart…), a few toys really got the adventures flowing:
    Early, my Fisher Price castle. The best part being the dungeon and the dragon.
    Then my set of Henry the VIII dolls. Each wife was sold and collected separately, and it took ages (it seemed to me) to get my hands on all of them. They all had their names on their legs in case you got your Katherine/Catherine’s confused. I played with Anne the most because I felt sorry for her, being executed and all.
    And finally, my collection of little mice in different costmes. Revolutionary mouse (in a lovely uniform with powdered wig) my fave. I had a zillion of them. Only let my fave friends near them, and they kicked the dolls out of the dollhouse.

    Reply
  11. Sweet post!
    Well although I had enough dolls to form an army that could’ve marched on Barbie HQ (I had no Barbie’s, think mom thought she was a cheap tart…), a few toys really got the adventures flowing:
    Early, my Fisher Price castle. The best part being the dungeon and the dragon.
    Then my set of Henry the VIII dolls. Each wife was sold and collected separately, and it took ages (it seemed to me) to get my hands on all of them. They all had their names on their legs in case you got your Katherine/Catherine’s confused. I played with Anne the most because I felt sorry for her, being executed and all.
    And finally, my collection of little mice in different costmes. Revolutionary mouse (in a lovely uniform with powdered wig) my fave. I had a zillion of them. Only let my fave friends near them, and they kicked the dolls out of the dollhouse.

    Reply
  12. Sweet post!
    Well although I had enough dolls to form an army that could’ve marched on Barbie HQ (I had no Barbie’s, think mom thought she was a cheap tart…), a few toys really got the adventures flowing:
    Early, my Fisher Price castle. The best part being the dungeon and the dragon.
    Then my set of Henry the VIII dolls. Each wife was sold and collected separately, and it took ages (it seemed to me) to get my hands on all of them. They all had their names on their legs in case you got your Katherine/Catherine’s confused. I played with Anne the most because I felt sorry for her, being executed and all.
    And finally, my collection of little mice in different costmes. Revolutionary mouse (in a lovely uniform with powdered wig) my fave. I had a zillion of them. Only let my fave friends near them, and they kicked the dolls out of the dollhouse.

    Reply
  13. I had lots of Fisher Price toys and remember spinning tales about them, as well as regular dolls, barbies and teddies.
    Wonder if a Canadian company will do Canadian versions Felicity – I’m pretty sure my nieces would like something like that.

    Reply
  14. I had lots of Fisher Price toys and remember spinning tales about them, as well as regular dolls, barbies and teddies.
    Wonder if a Canadian company will do Canadian versions Felicity – I’m pretty sure my nieces would like something like that.

    Reply
  15. I had lots of Fisher Price toys and remember spinning tales about them, as well as regular dolls, barbies and teddies.
    Wonder if a Canadian company will do Canadian versions Felicity – I’m pretty sure my nieces would like something like that.

    Reply
  16. from Susan/Sarah….
    Ooooooh, fun post, Susan/Miranda!
    I loved dolls as a kid. Crammed so many into my bed at night, along with the teddies and bunnies, that there was scarcely room for me.
    And I set up a sprawling estate for my Barbie(s) & Ken(s) down in our basement, creating a house and vast acreage made from whatever I could find or borrow, with cardboard walls, furniture from boxes and various objects, windows of wax paper (stained glass with crayons!!), towels for carpeting, and my dad’s chess pieces for lamps. They had hills and mountains to climb and even a lake to swim in (ok, boxes of books, bags of laundry, and the laundry sink). Usually their adventures were of the romantic-suspense variety, until my aunt made some beautifully detailed historical costumes for my dolls, and they started time-traveling.
    I suppose that long-legged doll gave me a little insecurity later (who knew I’d end up 4’11”)… but Lady B. and Sir Ken also gave me a great start in imagining stories.
    Then I grew up and had only sons, all boys, all the time: Ninja Turtles, Legos, Transformers, and nary a Barbie in sight.
    But now I have an Irish Princess Barbie as a mascot in my office. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  17. from Susan/Sarah….
    Ooooooh, fun post, Susan/Miranda!
    I loved dolls as a kid. Crammed so many into my bed at night, along with the teddies and bunnies, that there was scarcely room for me.
    And I set up a sprawling estate for my Barbie(s) & Ken(s) down in our basement, creating a house and vast acreage made from whatever I could find or borrow, with cardboard walls, furniture from boxes and various objects, windows of wax paper (stained glass with crayons!!), towels for carpeting, and my dad’s chess pieces for lamps. They had hills and mountains to climb and even a lake to swim in (ok, boxes of books, bags of laundry, and the laundry sink). Usually their adventures were of the romantic-suspense variety, until my aunt made some beautifully detailed historical costumes for my dolls, and they started time-traveling.
    I suppose that long-legged doll gave me a little insecurity later (who knew I’d end up 4’11”)… but Lady B. and Sir Ken also gave me a great start in imagining stories.
    Then I grew up and had only sons, all boys, all the time: Ninja Turtles, Legos, Transformers, and nary a Barbie in sight.
    But now I have an Irish Princess Barbie as a mascot in my office. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  18. from Susan/Sarah….
    Ooooooh, fun post, Susan/Miranda!
    I loved dolls as a kid. Crammed so many into my bed at night, along with the teddies and bunnies, that there was scarcely room for me.
    And I set up a sprawling estate for my Barbie(s) & Ken(s) down in our basement, creating a house and vast acreage made from whatever I could find or borrow, with cardboard walls, furniture from boxes and various objects, windows of wax paper (stained glass with crayons!!), towels for carpeting, and my dad’s chess pieces for lamps. They had hills and mountains to climb and even a lake to swim in (ok, boxes of books, bags of laundry, and the laundry sink). Usually their adventures were of the romantic-suspense variety, until my aunt made some beautifully detailed historical costumes for my dolls, and they started time-traveling.
    I suppose that long-legged doll gave me a little insecurity later (who knew I’d end up 4’11”)… but Lady B. and Sir Ken also gave me a great start in imagining stories.
    Then I grew up and had only sons, all boys, all the time: Ninja Turtles, Legos, Transformers, and nary a Barbie in sight.
    But now I have an Irish Princess Barbie as a mascot in my office. 🙂
    Susan

    Reply
  19. Fun post!
    I was a complete tomboy who rarely played with dolls, but I had an extensive collection of Breyer model horses that I named after characters from my favorite books (my Arabians were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) and put through various fantastical adventures.
    I played outside whenever I could. I grew up in the country, so we had a huge yard and several acres of woods. I set up courses of varying lengths in the yard and pretended my bike was a racehorse and I was a jockey riding in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. My swingset was a spaceship, and spare beanpoles from the garden were lightsabers or tipi frames.
    I only got to play in the woods during the narrow window of time that was too cold for water moccasins and rattlesnakes, but not deer hunting season (told you I grew up country!). That was my favorite part of the year, because the woods were either my own Narnia-style magical kingdom or the Forest Primeval, with me either a Native American child on a vision quest or a pioneer girl just like Laura Ingalls.

    Reply
  20. Fun post!
    I was a complete tomboy who rarely played with dolls, but I had an extensive collection of Breyer model horses that I named after characters from my favorite books (my Arabians were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) and put through various fantastical adventures.
    I played outside whenever I could. I grew up in the country, so we had a huge yard and several acres of woods. I set up courses of varying lengths in the yard and pretended my bike was a racehorse and I was a jockey riding in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. My swingset was a spaceship, and spare beanpoles from the garden were lightsabers or tipi frames.
    I only got to play in the woods during the narrow window of time that was too cold for water moccasins and rattlesnakes, but not deer hunting season (told you I grew up country!). That was my favorite part of the year, because the woods were either my own Narnia-style magical kingdom or the Forest Primeval, with me either a Native American child on a vision quest or a pioneer girl just like Laura Ingalls.

    Reply
  21. Fun post!
    I was a complete tomboy who rarely played with dolls, but I had an extensive collection of Breyer model horses that I named after characters from my favorite books (my Arabians were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) and put through various fantastical adventures.
    I played outside whenever I could. I grew up in the country, so we had a huge yard and several acres of woods. I set up courses of varying lengths in the yard and pretended my bike was a racehorse and I was a jockey riding in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont. My swingset was a spaceship, and spare beanpoles from the garden were lightsabers or tipi frames.
    I only got to play in the woods during the narrow window of time that was too cold for water moccasins and rattlesnakes, but not deer hunting season (told you I grew up country!). That was my favorite part of the year, because the woods were either my own Narnia-style magical kingdom or the Forest Primeval, with me either a Native American child on a vision quest or a pioneer girl just like Laura Ingalls.

    Reply
  22. Oh, my God! I used to play with the American Girls dolls when I was about 10 or 11. I bought one later on and she looks absolutely nothing like me, but I liked her stories best. Or maybe I just liked her really long dark hair. After playing with Barbie since I was about 5, I wanted a doll who had dark hair and short legs like me.
    I used to make long, melodramatic stories about my Barbies. I also loved my grandmother’s yard. I used to run around, play house, pretend to be princess and get very muddy in the process.

    Reply
  23. Oh, my God! I used to play with the American Girls dolls when I was about 10 or 11. I bought one later on and she looks absolutely nothing like me, but I liked her stories best. Or maybe I just liked her really long dark hair. After playing with Barbie since I was about 5, I wanted a doll who had dark hair and short legs like me.
    I used to make long, melodramatic stories about my Barbies. I also loved my grandmother’s yard. I used to run around, play house, pretend to be princess and get very muddy in the process.

    Reply
  24. Oh, my God! I used to play with the American Girls dolls when I was about 10 or 11. I bought one later on and she looks absolutely nothing like me, but I liked her stories best. Or maybe I just liked her really long dark hair. After playing with Barbie since I was about 5, I wanted a doll who had dark hair and short legs like me.
    I used to make long, melodramatic stories about my Barbies. I also loved my grandmother’s yard. I used to run around, play house, pretend to be princess and get very muddy in the process.

    Reply
  25. I never played with dolls much, perhaps because my younger sister and brother were more interesting than the dolls. I played school with them from the time they could walk and started teaching my sister to read when I was six and she was three.
    My best friend and I did have these two elaborate, on-going adventures modeled after Saturday matinees. In one we were Dale Evans and Penny Edwards riding the Wild West and catching all the bad guys Roy, Gene, and Lash missed. In the other we were Amazons on quest for hidden treasure (our mothers’ castoff costume jewelry), defeating the villains with our cunning and might. I guess we were budding feminists even then.
    I also grew up in a neighborhood filled with other kids. Summers we played softball and dodge ball until we could no longer see the ball. I don’t know if summers were not as hot then as now or if we were just more acclimated to the heat since we grew up without air conditioning in private spaces,but it is rare to see kids playing outside in July these days.

    Reply
  26. I never played with dolls much, perhaps because my younger sister and brother were more interesting than the dolls. I played school with them from the time they could walk and started teaching my sister to read when I was six and she was three.
    My best friend and I did have these two elaborate, on-going adventures modeled after Saturday matinees. In one we were Dale Evans and Penny Edwards riding the Wild West and catching all the bad guys Roy, Gene, and Lash missed. In the other we were Amazons on quest for hidden treasure (our mothers’ castoff costume jewelry), defeating the villains with our cunning and might. I guess we were budding feminists even then.
    I also grew up in a neighborhood filled with other kids. Summers we played softball and dodge ball until we could no longer see the ball. I don’t know if summers were not as hot then as now or if we were just more acclimated to the heat since we grew up without air conditioning in private spaces,but it is rare to see kids playing outside in July these days.

    Reply
  27. I never played with dolls much, perhaps because my younger sister and brother were more interesting than the dolls. I played school with them from the time they could walk and started teaching my sister to read when I was six and she was three.
    My best friend and I did have these two elaborate, on-going adventures modeled after Saturday matinees. In one we were Dale Evans and Penny Edwards riding the Wild West and catching all the bad guys Roy, Gene, and Lash missed. In the other we were Amazons on quest for hidden treasure (our mothers’ castoff costume jewelry), defeating the villains with our cunning and might. I guess we were budding feminists even then.
    I also grew up in a neighborhood filled with other kids. Summers we played softball and dodge ball until we could no longer see the ball. I don’t know if summers were not as hot then as now or if we were just more acclimated to the heat since we grew up without air conditioning in private spaces,but it is rare to see kids playing outside in July these days.

    Reply
  28. Hi Susan/Sarah.
    Fun post! Williamsburg is such a beautiful, enchanting place. Especially at Christmas. My dh and I honeymooned there twenty years ago this December. I have fond memories of walking torchlight streets at night, wrapped in his arm against the biting winter wind while munching on spicy ginger cakes. July is a dreadfully hot month to be in CW. Drink plenty of water!
    As for what fed my childhood imagination… well there wasn’t much time or space for toys in my world. When my days weren’t consumed by school and school work, I was tending eight younger siblings and the additional pattering feet that entered our home via mom’s in-home daycare. So, under the cover of night, while all the little ones slept, I filled my imagination with books. They were free from the local library where we visited every Friday evening. I will never forget the first book I read cover to cover. I was about seven. It was a simple story about Christopher Columbus and his three ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. I knew my father had named me after Columbus’s smallest ship. Between the covers of that beautifully illustrated book, which I read while under mine, I discovered ‘the Nina’ was the only ship that made it back to port.
    This knowledge forged in me a deep hunger to know everything I could know. My source, I decided would be books. I read everything I could from scientific studies about the human eye to factual accounts about the Salem witch trials and Hitler’s Youth. I also explored the world with Trixie and the Bobwhites then warped into the far reaches of the universe with Captain Kirk, Bones and Mr. Spock aboard the Starship Enterprise.
    When my daughter asks me about my childhood, I always tell her that I lived in a world of words that painted the depths of my imagination. As my only child, she has turned our great room into a fantasy Barbie land more than once. She can go on and on about her Barbies’ lives, their loves and broken hearts. Some are vampires. Some are dragon hunters and some are CEOs of large candy corporations. Just a few minutes ago I found her digging down into the depths of art supply closet. It’s hard to say what’s coming next. 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  29. Hi Susan/Sarah.
    Fun post! Williamsburg is such a beautiful, enchanting place. Especially at Christmas. My dh and I honeymooned there twenty years ago this December. I have fond memories of walking torchlight streets at night, wrapped in his arm against the biting winter wind while munching on spicy ginger cakes. July is a dreadfully hot month to be in CW. Drink plenty of water!
    As for what fed my childhood imagination… well there wasn’t much time or space for toys in my world. When my days weren’t consumed by school and school work, I was tending eight younger siblings and the additional pattering feet that entered our home via mom’s in-home daycare. So, under the cover of night, while all the little ones slept, I filled my imagination with books. They were free from the local library where we visited every Friday evening. I will never forget the first book I read cover to cover. I was about seven. It was a simple story about Christopher Columbus and his three ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. I knew my father had named me after Columbus’s smallest ship. Between the covers of that beautifully illustrated book, which I read while under mine, I discovered ‘the Nina’ was the only ship that made it back to port.
    This knowledge forged in me a deep hunger to know everything I could know. My source, I decided would be books. I read everything I could from scientific studies about the human eye to factual accounts about the Salem witch trials and Hitler’s Youth. I also explored the world with Trixie and the Bobwhites then warped into the far reaches of the universe with Captain Kirk, Bones and Mr. Spock aboard the Starship Enterprise.
    When my daughter asks me about my childhood, I always tell her that I lived in a world of words that painted the depths of my imagination. As my only child, she has turned our great room into a fantasy Barbie land more than once. She can go on and on about her Barbies’ lives, their loves and broken hearts. Some are vampires. Some are dragon hunters and some are CEOs of large candy corporations. Just a few minutes ago I found her digging down into the depths of art supply closet. It’s hard to say what’s coming next. 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  30. Hi Susan/Sarah.
    Fun post! Williamsburg is such a beautiful, enchanting place. Especially at Christmas. My dh and I honeymooned there twenty years ago this December. I have fond memories of walking torchlight streets at night, wrapped in his arm against the biting winter wind while munching on spicy ginger cakes. July is a dreadfully hot month to be in CW. Drink plenty of water!
    As for what fed my childhood imagination… well there wasn’t much time or space for toys in my world. When my days weren’t consumed by school and school work, I was tending eight younger siblings and the additional pattering feet that entered our home via mom’s in-home daycare. So, under the cover of night, while all the little ones slept, I filled my imagination with books. They were free from the local library where we visited every Friday evening. I will never forget the first book I read cover to cover. I was about seven. It was a simple story about Christopher Columbus and his three ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. I knew my father had named me after Columbus’s smallest ship. Between the covers of that beautifully illustrated book, which I read while under mine, I discovered ‘the Nina’ was the only ship that made it back to port.
    This knowledge forged in me a deep hunger to know everything I could know. My source, I decided would be books. I read everything I could from scientific studies about the human eye to factual accounts about the Salem witch trials and Hitler’s Youth. I also explored the world with Trixie and the Bobwhites then warped into the far reaches of the universe with Captain Kirk, Bones and Mr. Spock aboard the Starship Enterprise.
    When my daughter asks me about my childhood, I always tell her that I lived in a world of words that painted the depths of my imagination. As my only child, she has turned our great room into a fantasy Barbie land more than once. She can go on and on about her Barbies’ lives, their loves and broken hearts. Some are vampires. Some are dragon hunters and some are CEOs of large candy corporations. Just a few minutes ago I found her digging down into the depths of art supply closet. It’s hard to say what’s coming next. 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  31. I grew up in Central Florida (near Orlando) during the late 50’s to the mid 70’s, during the “space race”. I watched all of the lift-offs from my front yard, and that was key to most of the kids that I grew up with. Not that I didn’t play with dolls and the usual stuff, but this aspect of the possible was what I grew up with. The race to the moon became almost personal as I had many friends who had a parent that worked at NASA or subsidiary company. It was an exciting time and has fueled my curiosity for my entire life.

    Reply
  32. I grew up in Central Florida (near Orlando) during the late 50’s to the mid 70’s, during the “space race”. I watched all of the lift-offs from my front yard, and that was key to most of the kids that I grew up with. Not that I didn’t play with dolls and the usual stuff, but this aspect of the possible was what I grew up with. The race to the moon became almost personal as I had many friends who had a parent that worked at NASA or subsidiary company. It was an exciting time and has fueled my curiosity for my entire life.

    Reply
  33. I grew up in Central Florida (near Orlando) during the late 50’s to the mid 70’s, during the “space race”. I watched all of the lift-offs from my front yard, and that was key to most of the kids that I grew up with. Not that I didn’t play with dolls and the usual stuff, but this aspect of the possible was what I grew up with. The race to the moon became almost personal as I had many friends who had a parent that worked at NASA or subsidiary company. It was an exciting time and has fueled my curiosity for my entire life.

    Reply
  34. I love seeing the wide expanse of imagination we used as children. I wonder if today’s children, with all their virtual reality games, can compare?
    My favorite toy was a stuffed lion, chosen well before I knew what a Leo was or that I was one.
    A friend and I used to go out on adventures that involved investigating haunted houses (and stomping a farmer’s cornfield in crop circles in the process) and “doctoring” wounded trees. When confined to the house by weather,we wrote books about haunted houses. I think Nancy Drew may have been a bad influence.
    Pat

    Reply
  35. I love seeing the wide expanse of imagination we used as children. I wonder if today’s children, with all their virtual reality games, can compare?
    My favorite toy was a stuffed lion, chosen well before I knew what a Leo was or that I was one.
    A friend and I used to go out on adventures that involved investigating haunted houses (and stomping a farmer’s cornfield in crop circles in the process) and “doctoring” wounded trees. When confined to the house by weather,we wrote books about haunted houses. I think Nancy Drew may have been a bad influence.
    Pat

    Reply
  36. I love seeing the wide expanse of imagination we used as children. I wonder if today’s children, with all their virtual reality games, can compare?
    My favorite toy was a stuffed lion, chosen well before I knew what a Leo was or that I was one.
    A friend and I used to go out on adventures that involved investigating haunted houses (and stomping a farmer’s cornfield in crop circles in the process) and “doctoring” wounded trees. When confined to the house by weather,we wrote books about haunted houses. I think Nancy Drew may have been a bad influence.
    Pat

    Reply
  37. Toy soldiers, Susan/Miranda.
    A battalion of them.
    I scorned baby dolls, and collected “fashion dolls” of all nations. I admired them, but didn’t play with them.
    I loved my soldiers, and spent many a happy hour with them.

    Reply
  38. Toy soldiers, Susan/Miranda.
    A battalion of them.
    I scorned baby dolls, and collected “fashion dolls” of all nations. I admired them, but didn’t play with them.
    I loved my soldiers, and spent many a happy hour with them.

    Reply
  39. Toy soldiers, Susan/Miranda.
    A battalion of them.
    I scorned baby dolls, and collected “fashion dolls” of all nations. I admired them, but didn’t play with them.
    I loved my soldiers, and spent many a happy hour with them.

    Reply
  40. What a fun topic! I didn’t have many dolls, or play with them, being more into stuffed animals. But really, my favorite “toys” were books–I’d read anything before I’d play with a doll.
    Still, there were times when I made up personalities and character arcs for the bears. Baby Bear, a macho devil with poor judgment even though he was only six inches high. Snow Bear, a princess who liked playing Teddy off against Winston. Honey Bear, with the air of a worn down stripper. Of course, all this happened when I was 30….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  41. What a fun topic! I didn’t have many dolls, or play with them, being more into stuffed animals. But really, my favorite “toys” were books–I’d read anything before I’d play with a doll.
    Still, there were times when I made up personalities and character arcs for the bears. Baby Bear, a macho devil with poor judgment even though he was only six inches high. Snow Bear, a princess who liked playing Teddy off against Winston. Honey Bear, with the air of a worn down stripper. Of course, all this happened when I was 30….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  42. What a fun topic! I didn’t have many dolls, or play with them, being more into stuffed animals. But really, my favorite “toys” were books–I’d read anything before I’d play with a doll.
    Still, there were times when I made up personalities and character arcs for the bears. Baby Bear, a macho devil with poor judgment even though he was only six inches high. Snow Bear, a princess who liked playing Teddy off against Winston. Honey Bear, with the air of a worn down stripper. Of course, all this happened when I was 30….
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  43. I used to act out books I’d read with my dolls, and I had a herd of plastic horses (not the fancy kind, the little cheap ones) who had fabulous adventures in the wild, a la THUNDERHEAD.
    And I had paper dolls.
    Otherwise I wandered around outside, making things up in my head, or read books.
    And wished the other kids would play with me sometimes.

    Reply
  44. I used to act out books I’d read with my dolls, and I had a herd of plastic horses (not the fancy kind, the little cheap ones) who had fabulous adventures in the wild, a la THUNDERHEAD.
    And I had paper dolls.
    Otherwise I wandered around outside, making things up in my head, or read books.
    And wished the other kids would play with me sometimes.

    Reply
  45. I used to act out books I’d read with my dolls, and I had a herd of plastic horses (not the fancy kind, the little cheap ones) who had fabulous adventures in the wild, a la THUNDERHEAD.
    And I had paper dolls.
    Otherwise I wandered around outside, making things up in my head, or read books.
    And wished the other kids would play with me sometimes.

    Reply
  46. Edith, did you ever read THE RETURN OF THE TWELVES by Pauline Clarke? It’s about the toy soldiers the Bronte children used to play with, investing so much imagination in them that they came to life. Then some modern-day children find them in an attic….

    Reply
  47. Edith, did you ever read THE RETURN OF THE TWELVES by Pauline Clarke? It’s about the toy soldiers the Bronte children used to play with, investing so much imagination in them that they came to life. Then some modern-day children find them in an attic….

    Reply
  48. Edith, did you ever read THE RETURN OF THE TWELVES by Pauline Clarke? It’s about the toy soldiers the Bronte children used to play with, investing so much imagination in them that they came to life. Then some modern-day children find them in an attic….

    Reply
  49. Mary Jo, did you happen to catch THE TONIGHT SHOW tonight? On the “Headlines” segment, Jay Leno showed an ad for “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–it was a teddy bear in a little white coffin! Who would sell such a thing? Who would buy it?

    Reply
  50. Mary Jo, did you happen to catch THE TONIGHT SHOW tonight? On the “Headlines” segment, Jay Leno showed an ad for “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–it was a teddy bear in a little white coffin! Who would sell such a thing? Who would buy it?

    Reply
  51. Mary Jo, did you happen to catch THE TONIGHT SHOW tonight? On the “Headlines” segment, Jay Leno showed an ad for “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–it was a teddy bear in a little white coffin! Who would sell such a thing? Who would buy it?

    Reply
  52. “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–
    Nooooooooooo! Not the teddy!!!!
    What were they thinking! Teddies are immortal.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  53. “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–
    Nooooooooooo! Not the teddy!!!!
    What were they thinking! Teddies are immortal.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  54. “The Last Word in Teddy Bears”–
    Nooooooooooo! Not the teddy!!!!
    What were they thinking! Teddies are immortal.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  55. Arrrrright, I realize what I just posted, so let’s try to keep the Teddy Vampire jokes to a minimum….
    ~Susan

    Reply
  56. Arrrrright, I realize what I just posted, so let’s try to keep the Teddy Vampire jokes to a minimum….
    ~Susan

    Reply
  57. Arrrrright, I realize what I just posted, so let’s try to keep the Teddy Vampire jokes to a minimum….
    ~Susan

    Reply
  58. I don’t remember my childhood dolls. But some years ago I started collecting Barbies. Not as collectibles, just to have a lot of Barbies. I like Barbies because they’re shallow. I do remember making up complicated dramas for my friends to act out with me, based on fables and those Classics Illustrated comic books. So maybe I used the neighborhood kids as my dolls.

    Reply
  59. I don’t remember my childhood dolls. But some years ago I started collecting Barbies. Not as collectibles, just to have a lot of Barbies. I like Barbies because they’re shallow. I do remember making up complicated dramas for my friends to act out with me, based on fables and those Classics Illustrated comic books. So maybe I used the neighborhood kids as my dolls.

    Reply
  60. I don’t remember my childhood dolls. But some years ago I started collecting Barbies. Not as collectibles, just to have a lot of Barbies. I like Barbies because they’re shallow. I do remember making up complicated dramas for my friends to act out with me, based on fables and those Classics Illustrated comic books. So maybe I used the neighborhood kids as my dolls.

    Reply
  61. My friend who collects bears watched the Leno bit, but she wouldn’t let her BearLee watch.
    Didn’t Theodore Sturgeon have a classic story about a vampire teddy bear? I read it when I was MUCH too young.

    Reply
  62. My friend who collects bears watched the Leno bit, but she wouldn’t let her BearLee watch.
    Didn’t Theodore Sturgeon have a classic story about a vampire teddy bear? I read it when I was MUCH too young.

    Reply
  63. My friend who collects bears watched the Leno bit, but she wouldn’t let her BearLee watch.
    Didn’t Theodore Sturgeon have a classic story about a vampire teddy bear? I read it when I was MUCH too young.

    Reply
  64. << I like Barbies because they're shallow. Oh Loretta, that's SO funny. And you're so right. They ARE shallow, and we love them for it. I unabashedly love my Irish Princess Barbie. A friend gave her to me because she looked like a heroine in one of my books, and she's been in my office ever since. ~Susan

    Reply
  65. << I like Barbies because they're shallow. Oh Loretta, that's SO funny. And you're so right. They ARE shallow, and we love them for it. I unabashedly love my Irish Princess Barbie. A friend gave her to me because she looked like a heroine in one of my books, and she's been in my office ever since. ~Susan

    Reply
  66. << I like Barbies because they're shallow. Oh Loretta, that's SO funny. And you're so right. They ARE shallow, and we love them for it. I unabashedly love my Irish Princess Barbie. A friend gave her to me because she looked like a heroine in one of my books, and she's been in my office ever since. ~Susan

    Reply

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