Barbie dolls came up yesterday on the trail, with a couple of gals saying they had never had them when they were growing up. It caught my attention because some new Barbies have been released onto the market this week, modeled after inspirational women, among them an Amelia Earhart, a Frido Kahlo and a Katherine Johnson.
This has made me think of my history with the doll. In my early years I was the oldest of two however my younger sister was born with a heart defect and didn’t have the corrective surgery until she was almost two. She was frail up until that point and I wasn’t allowed to play with her much. We also moved homes quite a bit during my childhood (some due to my dad’s work and some due my parents’ continual wanderlust). I learned pretty early on to entertain myself and let my imagination go with whatever I was doing.
I had a couple of Barbie dolls – at least one of them was inherited from the older sister of a friend – and I enjoyed them quite a bit. Back then there wasn’t a mountain of plastic silliness to go along with the Barbies. No Malibu Barbie houses or Barbie & Ken matching convertibles. But what I did have was CLOTHES. A friend of my mother was a big knitter and sewer and I was the beneficiary of that talent. I had masses of clothing for my dolls and not the cheap little bits of cloth that you could buy for Barbies in the store. I had knitted sweaters, a-line skirts with poodles, shorts, t-shirts, dresses with little stoles, a beautiful white wedding dress with a train. No shoes, but lots of everything else.
Since I needed a place for my Barbies to live with their beautiful clothing, I turned my dresser into a Barbie house. I cleaned out the middle section completely for this house. Because I didn’t have any “real” Barbie furniture, I drew and cut out furniture from paper and pasted it onto the walls of my two-story Barbie house. My dolls were living the life of Riley.
I still have my Barbie house dresser – it’s in the attic. I haven’t used it as a dresser for decades but every time I think about getting rid of it, I look inside, see the remnants of my Barbie furniture and I can’t bring myself to let it go.
Did you have a favorite childhood toy?