Sunday, February 22, 2015

Closet Cleaning on a Very Small Scale

"The Dolls" by Edward Bawdens

It's too early for genuine closet cleaning of the switch-it-to-spring variety. But one closet needed cleaning for a very long time. That's the trunk holding all my doll clothes and paraphernalia— shoes, hats, bits of lace and fabric, even some tiny green metal hangers. I have all the dolls, in another box. The dolls are wearing clothes, but the rest of their wardrobes were jammed into this trunk. There they have remained, since the last time I played with dolls in 1952.

I've been meaning to straighten out that mess for years. Perhaps if I had a daughter or nieces I would have, but only boys in this family. No grandaughter yet either, but time marches on and that trunk was still a mess.


So I decided, on a rainy Saturday, to start ironing. First of all, it sure would be nice to have a teeny tiny iron. Those doll clothes' nooks and crannies were hard to get into with my jumbo steam-a-matic. I recall, once upon a time, having a toy iron that worked. It must have been handed down from my older sister because the fabric cord was quite shredded and just looked dangerous. It had one temperature: hot.  Imagine giving that to a child to "play" with today. No doubt I learned early on to watch my fingers.

It was amazing how well I remembered so many of those little garments! Some were favorites and some I didn't like to put on the dolls even then. I found the dress my mother lovingly made with her usual precision. I also have the $4.95 doll dress I bought at F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City with all I had saved for the trip. This one held up the best and still looks lovely. Something about buying quality, yes?

$45.00 in today's money

There is a bridal gown (had forgotten about that), a Brownie uniform and a Red Cross nurse's dress. The bride may have worn her dress down the aisle once, the Brownie did not attend many meetings, and the nurse soon became "Tina the Stewardess".

By far the most contemporary and fashionable clothes belonged to my Ginny doll. Ginny was a product of the Vogue doll company and was smaller than any other dolls. Wildly popular at the time, she was a precursor to Barbie, who is even smaller. She was also my last ditch as a doll player and the only one I treated like the juvenile she was. Perhaps at age nine I was becoming maternal?

And they were all
named Ginny

Sometimes it felt like I was ironing miniature versions of my own clothes— flowered pants, a striped robe, a peasant blouse, a dirndl skirt. Others were things I would like to own, including two adorable jumpsuits. There are four straw hats. I still love to collect straw hats! Is it possible our tastes are formed as early as the playroom?

As I finished what turned into a monumental task, I thought of those many hours of doll playing. I don't remember scenarios, but there was much changing of clothes. I recently read that childhood is when we are freest to imagine and dream and pretend. As I still do a lot of that, I would like to think I'm still a child, in a good way.



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  2. What a lovely way to spend a day! I too have doll this size. It is a Madame Alexander not a Ginny. Alas her wardrobe did not survive my younger siblings. Her wardrobe does live on in my memory. It is surprising how well I remember some of her outfits. Alex even had a fur coat. I do hope you have a granddaughter in your future. What a wonderful "legacy" to pass on.