Monday, August 31, 2009


Doll Mob

The old toys of our childhood possess a special magic.

She Who Must Be Obeyed can tell you all about it. She still has her stuffed Lambie, a treasured Play-Companion from her earliest days. Most of the time, Lambie reposes on a shelf in the closet, as befits a Dowager-Lamb of considerable years... but when the Missus holds that tatterdemalion ovine body, I can almost see her eyes grow misty as the years peel away in her mind.

Alas, I possess no such relics of my Snot-Nose Days. I can remember the toys I played with when I was not much more than a toddler - a rubber giraffe and frog come to mind - but those playthings long ago ended up on some suburban Midden-Heap.

I would imagine that the shamanistic powers of dolls are especially potent, but having grown up in a generation in which dolls were Girl-Playthings, I have no such personal experience. Boys of my age-cohort did not play with Recreational Homunculi; G.I. Joe and other “Action Figures” had not yet been invented. And as much as I enjoyed my model rockets, I cannot imagine forming the sort of affectionate bonds with them that girls form with their dolls, even with a few decades worth of nostalgia thrown in as leavening. I can only go by the second-hand evidence that comes from living in a house full of women... and that evidence says that doll-power is powerful indeed.

To all of my esteemed readers who are scratching their heads and wondering just what ole Elisson is going on about, there is a point to all this. A few months back, SWMBO’s mother celebrated a major birthday, and we were casting about for appropriate gift ideas. It was then that SWMBO remembered that we had, tucked away in a cedar chest, an old doll that had belonged to her Momma.

The doll was, as could be expected from a plaything that was somewhere around sixty-five years of age, not in the best condition. The clothes were missing a few snaps and ribbons; the socks, stained with age, had deteriorated and displayed several holes. Moreover, the internal network of strings and bands that held the doll together was in tatters. But those are all things that could be repaired. How would Mom react to seeing her Old Friend again... all new and shiny? That is the birthday gift we settled on: Have Mom’s doll restored.

Strange as it may seem to the layman, there are people who, either as a living or as a hobby, restore and repair all manner of dolls. And so that is where I brought Nancy Lee - that, by the bye, was the name of this Old Friend - to be brought back to her former glory...

Nancy Lee

It was a slow and lengthy process, to be sure, but today I retrieved the finished article. A simple construct of string, polymeric composition, cloth, ribbon, leather, mohair, and paint, but one that is imbued with a special magic. The magic to bring back memories of a long-ago childhood.

Here she is, all restrung, reconditioned, and with clothing freshly pressed. I can only imagine Mom’s reaction when she sees her childhood Play-Buddy. Perhaps we’ll throw in a box of Kleenex when we pack ol’ Nancy Lee up...

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