I was not that child who took care of her toys. Dolls were companions in make-believe, not decor. We played house. We played school. I pulled off their clothes and investigated how they were made and what mechanisms allowed their arms and legs to move. When I lost interest, I left them wherever. I have no idea what happened to the baby dolls, the Ginny dolls, or the myriad puppets who populated my childhood.
Except for the Bride Doll.
Christmas, 1954. I had just turned six. For some reason, I had to have a bride doll. Santa totally made my dreams come true. But my mom put her foot down: this was not an ordinary plaything. She would be treasured.
We lived in a north St. Louis shotgun apartment, with my parents’ bedroom between the living room and kitchen. The Bride Doll had a place of honor on my parents’ bed.
And she sorta became my mom’s doll. Nameless, she became a decorator item, sitting against a pillow on the white chenille bedspread. Even after we moved to south St. Louis and their bedroom was upstairs, Mom put out the Bride Doll on special occasions–Christmases maybe? The Bride Doll finally got permanently stored away.
When I turned 50 (or thereabouts), my mom decided to let me have the Bride Doll. Mom fixed her hair, made her a faux-pearl headband to replace the disintegrated veil, and did some research. “It’s a Madame Alexander doll,” she told me. “A very good doll.”
Madame Alexander, indeed. Dressed in a gently yellowing satin and organza gown, she is 18-inches tall, a hard plastic “walker,” with jointed hips and shoulders and a head that rotates. Her inset glass eyes are heavily lashed and they “sleep” when she lies down. Her hair is a netted wig made of shiny, auburn saran. She is flat-chested and wearing Mary Jane flats, so is more of a little girl having a bridal fantasy. She is still lovely.
She is more sentimental than valuable–an visible memory shared by my mother and me for 65 years now. I can’t help wondering what will happen to her.