Tag Archives: childhood

DOLLS


My very first doll I ever selected for myself, was … in today’s perspective … very un-PC. I was five or younger when I chose it. From our dairy farm in Whangarata, in the Waikato, the family went on a day trip to Auckland. It may have coincided with a visit to my mother aunt, Aunty Raynee – I’m not sure. But it coincided with a visit to Farmers, then known as Farmers Trading Store, in the main street of the big city. Farmers was known for its size (multi-storey) and the vast range of products. More importantly to us children, it was known for its extravagant children’s department, which had an entire floor for kids, including a playground.

More significant to us that day was the toy department. So many aisles of toy shelves! And…dolls! They were not the adult reach height of modern stores. All were only the height of a child’s eyes, and the top shelf sloped in layers stepping up higher towards the rear, allowing the dolls to sit each one behind the other, clearly visible to any child. Each different model of doll had its own section, clearly demarked from its neighbours, and overhead was the sign naming the type of doll.  We two children strolled back and forth along the aisle in front of the dolls, until we’d chosen the dill we wanted.

My choice was a little baby doll, dressed in a

"Nigger" doll as sold in the 50s
My choice was not dressed as this is. Image found via Google search

 blue-and-white domed fastened shirt, and a pair of blue overalls. His head was black and tightly curled, his skin was brown, and his lips were pink. On arriving home with my new doll, Mum (Dad?) asked me what I was going to name him. A redundant question to me – the store had his name well displayed, and no new name was needed, I thought. “He’s got a name. Nigger.” I remember saying it in a very determined voice.

No one suggested that was not appropriate, so Nigger he remained – for thirty years. I knitted him (garter stitch) a pink tee-shaped pullover, a pair of knickers, and a cap. I kept him with me when at age eighteen I left home to attend teachers’ college. He came with me when I married, and when my new family moved to Huntly (NZ’s then new power station town) he came too. He’d aged in colour, but still sat on the top shelf of my wardrobe. Between 1980 and 1986 he had to go for repairs – his rubber bands in the joints had given up. Sadly, the woman who replaced the rubber bands used too tight a band, and the tension was too much. The body part cracked at the neck joint. When it came back from that repair she’d not been able match the colour of his skin, and eventually he broke again, this time beyond repair. Putting Nigger into the garbage was heart-breaking!

Many years later, Mum took up doll making. Hers were china dolls, for which she sewed and stuffed the body, affixing the head, arms and legs. Being one who’d sewed, knitted, stitched smocking and tatted lace for baby clothes, she clothed each doll herself. No store-bought ready-made clothes for these babies. Each was displayed in her lounge, and on the guest beds or dressing tables.

One we had was her very first china doll, which she had over-glazed. Another was one she made for our daughter, and dressed in a beautiful long frock to match a dress-up frock one she’d made for my daughter from a bridesmaid’s dress we’d found in the gutter outside our house while on a walk together. I so wish I had a photograph of the two girls together!


Composed for the self-imposed ABC for 2018 challenge, the ‘D’ prompt

Hi, old pal – long time no see!


My imaginary friend – singular? Oh, no – I had lots of them.

In my imaginary conversations (which in fact were spoken out loud to myself) I talked non-stop. Their complete replies came to me in the brief time for me to draw breath to speak to them again. This made me the family chatter-box – non-stop talker, me.

When I related to my Mum or Dad what my friend of the day and I had done, where we’d gone, what we’d done or seen, I’d be called a fibber, and sometimes growled for it if the story told about places where my imaginary friend and I had been with my elder sister, or things we had seen her do or heard her say.

I genuinely lived those imaginary moments as if they were real. I had my own world in which all was real to me.

The friends I remember readily were in fact other children who at school I never got to play with – they were younger or older than I. But in my five to six-year old “imaginary reality”, we were equals. I also had imaginary friendships with Peer Gynt, children from the Selfish Giant’s garden, and other radio children’s stories’ characters. But ‘playing’ with these was not as often nor as absorbing as playing with imaginary school friends, as the former had the game all scripted of course.

So – Today I meet John and Christine – the two red- (no, ginger-) -haired twins from the younger class. He’s now in a top position in education but I have no idea how Christine’s life turned out. I would have to admit to them, they were the inspiration for my life-long desire to have red hair. So much so that I confess freely to one and all that I sometimes get my hair coloured. They also were the trigger for me deciding Lucille Ball was worth watching on the tele in later years, and I’ve always said how I’ve wanted her hair colour. (“Hubby fit” time whenever I mention this.)

I meet again Richard, and have to ask him exactly why he rammed me up against one of the giant oak trees in the school yard while we were playing Bull Rush. (In my imaginary world, I had later rammed hin into the oak, and slapped him silly. Hearing me talk about it had Mum telephoning his parents to apologise for me, and after they talked to Richard, they called back and put her straight. (“You mustn’t tell fibs.”)

I again meet Paul, and have to tell him how much I liked the little needle book he had given me as a birthday gift – even though I had known it was one of his mother’s, and had no use for it, except to inspire imaginary conversations with him about mending his shirts and sewing table cloths. I’d also tell him about copying it to make a new one of my own when I really had to sew for myself.

I meet Diana, and tell her I always thought she was an absolute traitor to the feminist cause when she “threw” the race against (sp?) Milanian just so she could marry him. What a waste of her talent.

I meet Christopher Robin and all his forest friends, and show Owl my collection of owl ornaments, and tell him how I used his “Happy Birthday” message on the classroom blackboard for every one of my younger pupils’ birthdays.

I meet Me Bogeywomp, and tell him how much fun it was to play with him and Us Wild-Garage, You Long-Nose-Snog and all, creating new creatures in our shared world while “being” Susan (character sharing my elder sister’s name), and how hard I have searched all my life for copies of the book: one to own for myself and one for my sister.

Yep, imaginary friends in childhood are wonderful. They inspire imagination and creativity. They let a youngster put a story together, to make sense of how they feel about real life events (like being slammed into an oak tree). Every child should be allowed one at least.

                                                                                 

A response to Daily Post :: Imaginary Friend

Many of us as young children had imaginary friends. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today?