On the news a few days, ago I heard the still-popular Barbie doll was celebrating a birthday. It is hard to believe she is turning 60 years old. I’ll never forget the first Barbie I received for Christmas when the dolls hit the shelves. Upon doing some research I found that Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by Mattel, Inc., and launched on March 9, 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll, using a German doll called “Bild Lilli” as inspiration.
This event changed the way little girls had played with baby dolls for years. This supposedly was a fully mature teenage doll who had her own line of clothing and furniture, a pink car, a pink castle and everything any little girl could wish for as we would sit for hours playing.
One of my friend’s mother made a statement I didn’t understand at the time. She said she was going to save all her daughter’s Barbie dolls because they would be priceless someday. As a young girl in the third grade I didn’t think about money much. I thought she was being silly but she was being smart.
About the time that Barbie dolls came into my life, I think our baby dolls were tossed aside. My friends and I were fascinated with all the stories we could create using the dolls and all the accessories that came with them.
We could take them to the beach wearing a beautiful swimsuit. We could take them hiking or just take a ride in the pink Barbiemobile!
My Maw Maw loved dolls. As my sister and I would toss our dolls aside, Maw Maw would rescue them, dress them and keep them in nearly all the rooms in her home. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I remembered later what she had told me about what happened to her when she was only 12 years old.
Maw Maw had an assortment of dolls she cherished. She was an only child and the dolls gave her much happiness and joy. But one day she came home from school and her mother had given all her dolls to a cousin. My grandmother was only 12 years old at the time and she never forgot how much it hurt to see her cousin not take care of her dolls. Maw Maw said that her cousin was careless with the dolls and didn’t even dress them for the day or nighttime! So, for my Maw Maw’s entire life, she collected dolls.
My grandmother had a lot of jewelry in a drawer at her house and would often allow me to look at it – with her supervision, of course. I loved to look at that jewelry and imagine that I might be able to wear it one day. Maw Maw promised me that she was leaving me her pearl necklace, which she wrote in her will. I knew she meant this with all her heart.
But many years later when I was in my 40s, we learned that my grandmother had never finished her will before she passed away. I was heartbroken, because I wanted that pearl necklace.
Then one day I was visiting my Paw Paw and noticed that one of my old life-size dolls was in a chair at the dining table. I slowly walked to look closer.
Sure enough, I knew it was mine, because for some reason when I was younger I wanted to be a hair dresser and always cut my doll’s hair!
This doll could have never won a beauty contest with her hair in this style. Strangely enough, my Maw Maw had carefully wrapped a beautiful scarf around the doll’s hair and neck. As I got closer, I could not believe my eyes – the doll was wearing a pearl necklace!
I felt my eyes start to sting with tears. It was as if my grandmother was standing with me with the assurance that she never forgot about the pearl necklace.
As I left, I had the doll and the precious necklace in my arms. I later wore the necklace at my wedding, and years later, my daughter wore it at her wedding. I still have the necklace and I’ve never taken the time to find out if it is a fake pearl necklace or a real one. It wouldn’t matter to me. It couldn’t be cherished any more if it was worth thousands of dollars!
Several months ago, I was walking through an antique store and saw a Barbie doll all dressed up and wearing a pearl necklace! I couldn’t keep walking; I had to check the price! Lucky for me, it was affordable. So, I bought the Barbie and brought it home. It sits inside a china cabinet that used to belong to my Maw Maw!
There is a song called “Thanks for the Memories.” Every time I walk through my house and gaze into the china cabinet, it is filled with so many years I experienced from a young girl to the present. I could never have foreseen when I was a child how much my grandmother loved me.
After reading this article, hopefully you will let your mind flow back to some bea-utiful memories that you enjoyed with loved ones when you were young!
Keep smiling, Rosie
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