The Bride Doll

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.”

The Bride Doll, today, 65 years old

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.

2 Replies to “The Bride Doll”

  1. This must have been a “thing.” I received a bride doll for Christmas when I was 6-7. She was larger than my utility doll who were mostly deployed in play with other girls, and who had winsome little outfits. (Pre Barbie.). My mother crafted her beautiful satin gown from what was recognizably one of her own lacy slips. She was neither decor nor toy, neither a child or an adult – more like a generalized oracle of my expected future.

    I still have my everyday dolls, but I have no idea what happened to my bride doll. An oracular pronouncement, unfulfilled.

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  2. I didn’t have a bride doll, but I had one “Madame Alexander” doll. Only about 8 inches tall. My mom worked for a time in the most wonderful store, called The Jodo Gift Shop. It was full of beautiful toys and other small gifts …. we were always told when entering, “Don’t touch anything”! My mom was afraid that if we touched something, and it fell, we would have to pay for it. And we couldn’t afford that! The Jodo Gift Shop had a large array of Madame Alexander dolls. They had such beautiful innocent girl faces, I just loved them all. It just comes to mind, my mom bought me a sleepy doll there…a small soft doll made out of satin I think, with it’s eyes closed and however you put it down it looked like it fell asleep. I loved that precious toy. Thanks for the memories!

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