Antique Dolls Get a Bad Rap

Fifteen years ago, my second cousin died an untimely death. She left me all of her dolls that had passsed down on two sides of the family until they ended with her. She had no children, no one to pass the dolls to.

I’ve been dragging around my childhood dolls for half a century. When I left home, I took them with me. I didn’t want them to disappear or get given away. I collected plastic dolls from the 50s and 60s for decades – Betsy McCall, Barbie and Midge, Tammy, Pebbles, and baby dolls that wet and said mama.

I bought my mom the Nancy Ann Storybook dolls for all holidays because my dad gave her two of them on their first and second dates. In a move, the dolls got taken or thrown out.  After Dad passed away, Mom wanted those dolls back.  There are so many styles that we never did find the exact two that were lost. 

I imagined opening up a doll store, but it turned into a teacup and costume store instead.  This past year I have culled down my plastic doll collection and have given away hundreds of dolls to the children of Monterey County: there are many of them belonging to farm workers, hotel workers, etc.

Now all that I really have left are my cousin’s dolls, the hundred-year-old ones with glass eyes, the scary ones that get made fun of on TV, in movies and in citrus fruit commercials. The dolls are porcelain and beautiful, but nobody wants them right now.

Everything that goes around comes around, meaning that someday the dolls will be valued again (I hope). I gave away a few of the creepiest ones. I’ve kept the rest, and they say goodnight to me nightly as I drift off to sleep. My cousin loved all things old, as did her mother, my great aunt, my grandma’s younger sister.

The pandemic has been a good time to cull down my many possessions. I’ve let go of furniture, toys, books, you name it. But for some reason I have to hang onto these dolls. They were worth the big bucks back in 2006 when my cousin passed away. Each year, they lose more value as our society spends more and more time online and in virtual worlds. We are becoming more robotic with each passing year.  Kids can’t talk to each other, but they line up and text their friends sitting next to them.

People don’t meet randomly. They fill out profiles and put in their order for a mate on dating sites. I’m not knocking it—it has worked for many of my girlfriends. I just like things to happen organically, like meeting someone on the dance floor (hard with COVID) or on a hike. Dance floors these days are artificial turf covering up a mud hole at an outdoor winery event.

But I digress.

We Americans own too much stuff. Someday, should I live so long, I’ll have all of my worldly possessions in a one-bedroom place in Rossmoor, the local retirement community where ambulances are called the Rossmoor taxi. I’m not knocking it. Lots of people love it there.

Rossmoor gets a bad rap, too. Just like the glass-eyed beauties in my bedroom.

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