Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Too Old to play with dolls, pt. 4

It probably doesn't matter, but I have two versions of how this dolly came into existence. My mother was visiting us, maybe around 1974, and brought along some muslin and a paper pattern for a doll her mother had made for her in the 1920s (version 1). I found the old doll pattern while visiting my mother, started it, and she finished it while visiting me (version 2). Mother never stayed long, but it was long enough for her to make this sweet little doll, that has sat patiently waiting for 30 years for someone to play with her.

This pattern is drawn on the back of a letter from a real estate company, Tomahawk Land Company, in Wisconsin, dated October 5, 1922. Paper was never wasted in my grandparents' home, and the carbons of their business letters from the 1920s and 1930s are doubly interesting because of the advertising on the verso. Sort of the 1920s spam. So the shadows you see in the pattern is a neatly typed letter pleading with my grandmother ("Dear sir:") to come to Wisconsin to look at their cutover land farms with a sandy loam soil, at a comparatively low price. You may not know this, but the Depression which hit the country in 1929, had already started for farmers who had bought up huge amounts of acreage during the First World War, and then were left holding the bag when prices plummeted. Unfortunately, my grandparents fell for a few land schemes too--just in case you think the current real estate boom will last forever.

The pattern was traced with carbon paper onto the back of this letter, probably from a 1920s magazine, but it is entirely possible that using a piece of graph paper, it had been enlarged from a smaller template. Then in the 70s, my mother retraced it onto a piece of muslim, embroidered the face and shoes, and added the hair, but in a more contemporary style, rather than the 20s bobbed cut.

This entry actually covers three generations (skipping me), because the little quilt behind the dolly, was made by my grandmother when she was a little girl around 1883, and all girls were expected to know how to do this. They started with a dolly quilt. Each little triangle is pieced and it is quilted in a circular shape. The top which shows in this scan, is faded, but the verso is a bright rose with tiny red and white hearts. Then the original doll pattern was made for my mother in the 1920s, and then again in the 1970s for my daughter. The dolly sits in a wooden rocking cradle made for my mother by her brother Leslie who was 10 years older.

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