Pictured above is Maryanne Schaub, who has resided at this address, sitting on the blue cushion in the left-hand corner of the deacon’s bench, for almost four decades.
As I pondered about Maryanne’s exact arrival date, (since my memory about same apparently failed me), I decided to ask Mr. Google, who, in approximately one-half second, answered my query for “Maxwell House instant coffee rag doll promotion” and I learned that promotion was in 1985. I remember that for a few coffee jar inner seals, Mom and I had ourselves a sweet rag doll in a red gingham dress and pinafore, the perfect complement to our country kitchen. I am always impressed by Google and I am not easily impressed. 🙂 I was even rewarded with a picture on picclickdotcom for my efforts. Maryanne was just a gangly teenager in those days and showing a little too much leg in my opinion.
For over a decade I admit I have been remiss in decorating for the holidays, despite the fact that red and green Rubbermaid totes downstairs are filled with Christmas décor, plus tucked in every available nook and cranny are items from various Christmas country craft shows, two ceramic trees and two miniature trees with trimmings. I used to spend every Black Friday … an entire day, creating a festive flair, then whisking it all away New Year’s Day. It’s a small house, so some regular knickknacks and doodads would be put away for safekeeping during the holidays under the couch or the bed … sometimes we’d forget about those items ‘til way into the new year.
But, there has been one constant at Christmastime and that is swapping Maryanne’s red wool cap …
… for her Santa cap (seen in the top image).
My mom thought Maryanne looked a little plain, even a bit pasty-faced, so once when we were shopping we bought her that hat and mitt set (the mitts adorn her feet).
Maryanne is pretty exclusive these days … the only doll I own, but, at the age of 66 ½, it’s highly unlikely I’d be buying any dolls, right? But, I must add that I have 52 teddy bears of assorted sizes, a collection which was started in the mid-80s, only after many years of allergy shots. You see, I was allergic to stuffed animals as an infant, so this is the one and only photo of me with a teddy bear (or two).
My affinity for those plush bruins will be a Christmas post for another year, as I want to write about my fuzzy friends as well as two treasured Christmas gifts from my mom: a ceramic Boyd’s Bear Christmas tree and a tapestry Boyd’s Bear jacket. So bear with me and hopefully, I can get that tree up and aglow in the spirit of Christmas next year.
Reflections on Christmas past.
I decided to write about dolls for this year’s holiday remembrance after some of you commented on my doll that rested on the bumper of the 1957 Monarch Lucerne (pictured below) in a Wordless Wednesday post featuring photos from a local classic car cruise and a few baby pics of me as well. Fellow blogger/car enthusiast JP identified that vintage car where a vintage me sat atop the hood and Tilda Jane gently rested on the bumper.
In several comments I mentioned Tilda Jane and decided her story would be a fun post for Christmas 2022.
Why I named my doll Tilda Jane was always a mystery to me.
With no family members to pose that question to, I resorted to asking Google. After typing “Tilda Jane” I quickly discovered the origin of my favorite doll’s name. There was a book by the same name, by a female Canadian novelist (Marshall Saunders) and the book review website Good Reads, summarizes the plot as follows: “Tilda Jane is a rambunctious orphan in search of a home, fleeing the orphanage that won’t allow her to keep her rescued dog.” This book was written in 1901 and the author was renowned for her commitment to a better life for children and animals and was famous even before fellow Canadian novelist, L.M. Montgomery, wrote her first book in the “Anne of Green Gables” series in 1908.
I found the book “Tilda Jane” online at the free reading site “The Gutenberg Project” and you can click here to read it if you’d like.
I decided to be a bit frivolous, so I splurged and I bought the book, a little homage to my once beloved doll.
My parents were avid readers and they passed that love of reading onto their only child. I had a basket of “Golden Books” memorized before I moved on to “The Bobbsey Twins” series and many animal books, some which were spun into Disney movies. Likely “Tilda Jane” was in my repertoire of books read to me, or devoured by me.
I went down a deep rabbit hole on Saturday afternoon while perusing all my digital photos. Sure I was enamored by other dolls, paper dolls (cutouts) and a Barbie doll, but Tilda Jane was special.
But what made Tilda Jane so special?
Sometimes I cradled her in my arms, or she was nestled in the crook of my arm, but a lot of the time, I dragged Tilda Jane by her feet. She had a soft and pliable, almost rubber-like, body and head, but I had a bad habit of carrying her by her feet. I may be 5’ 9” tall today, but back then I was a lot shorter of course, so that poor doll’s head was often dragging along the ground. Oh Mom warned me that carrying Tilda Jane upside down wasn’t a good idea but I was young and … well, you know how that goes.
The damage to her “skinned head” was done and my mom decided Tilda Jane would soon be headless if swift action was not taken. She sent my father to the store to buy a new doll with the intention to swap heads. Many times over the years I heard the story that instead of my father returning with a doll that resembled Tilda Jane, he brought home a yellow-tinged, hard, but somewhat pliable, plastic doll with a hard head and a ponytail molded right into the back of her head. Of course it looked nothing like Tilda Jane.
The “surgery” took place after I was in bed and sound asleep. Mom carefully lopped that molded head and neck off and sewed the neck portion to Tilda Jane’s body. Post-op, a piece of white flannel was sewn over that gaping “wound” and tacked down with many stitches.
Before-and-after photos – well, oh my gosh.
The earlier photos versus the later photo … well, you take a look for yourself. It’s probably difficult to tell at a casual glance, but Tilda Jane wasn’t winning any doll beauty contests which you see in the last photo, showing that ugly ponytail and me, with a wan look on my face from my grandfather’s cigar smoke wafting towards my nose.
BEFORE … taken the same day as the pose on the Monarch:
AFTER … note the molded head/ponytail:
Well as I understand it, the mismatched head did not diminish my love for Tilda Jane.
Mom made us matching dresses on my grandmother’s old Singer treadle sewing machine. She even knit us fuzzy cardigan sweaters that sported “pearl” buttons. Though I scoured the digital albums for pictures of those outfits, I could find none. I can remember some of those outfits vividly.
Yes, there were other dolls who at least deserve honorable mention.
Every year when the Eaton’s Christmas Catalog arrived, I was allowed to pick two items to ask Santa for. Those chosen items were divvied up between my grandparents and parents.
I got a pram or a doll bed or doll clothes, plus a new doll each Christmas. My parents and/or grandparents bought the popular dolls like Betsy Wetsy, Thumbelina and Chatty Cathy.
Betsy Wetsy drank from her bottle, then needed a diaper change as the liquid ran through her … hmm, that’s not so cute now that I think of it.
Thumbelina was a soft and life-sized baby doll, whose head would move around when a dial on her back was wound. Her head twisted and turned at odd angles and it rotated back and forth … years later I think that is kind of creepy to be honest.
Chatty Cathy had a pull ring at the back of her neck and said various phrases. Mom would tell me years later, that after listening to my best friend Linda Crosby and me both pulling our respective Chatty Cathy doll’s string within earshot, she thought she’d lose her mind. This coupled with our parakeet’s non-stop uttering of “Hi, I’m Skippy Schaub!” Poor mom.
Here’s a few more doll pics through the years; some might have been these aforementioned dolls.
(Years later I wonder why the plush tiger PJ bag in the next two photos was not problematic with my allergies – guess it was not stuffed with anything but my PJs. Apparently it was a hit on that Christmas morn.)
There was a Barbie doll too. Mom knit outfits for my Barbie and I had cardboard furniture for her, something that was all the rage for that buxom blonde in the mid-60s. I never had Barbie’s friends like Ken, Midge or Skipper, but I wasn’t hard done by – even though I was an only child, I was never spoiled.
It’s always fun to reminisce … photographs and memories are such a treasure. Thanks for steppin’ back in time with me in this holiday post.