When I was a baby my parents started a doll collection for me. They began this collection with three dolls from South America, where I was born. I call this trio of dolls The Trio From the Equator, because I was born in Ecuador, which is so named because it is on the Equator.
Two of my first dolls are very simply made rag dolls. One of them wears a white shawl over her dress that has Ecuador embroidered on it, and, and the other one wears a big happy smile, a large pair of flashy gold earrings, lots of necklaces. She also wears a banner that says Panama. My third South American doll is a bright eyed mischievous looking vinyl doll who wears a very smart looking Panama hat.
As I grew up, my grandmother, and other special people in my life, gave me more dolls to add to my collection. My grandmother’s primary contributions to my collection were a number of soft sculpture Cabbage Patch Kid dolls. My Cabbage Patch Kid dolls can be most easily described by listing them in the following groups:
The Band-Aid Bandits
The Board Game Bunch
The Fab(ric) Four Beatles Boys, & Their Fan Club
The King & The Cowboy
The Paint Splatter Pals
The Paper Doll Players Drama Group
The Pooh On You Gang
As the years have passed, I gradually added more different types of dolls to my collection. Somewhat recent notable recruits have been particularly small dolls and one particularly large doll. My newest very small doll is a reproduction of a historical six inch high wooden hand-carved doll named Hitty. My newest large doll is a life-size Shirley Temple PlayPal doll who calls herself Scary Shirley. More about her in a moment.
My reproduction Hitty doll, who was hand-crafted by doll artist, Robert Raikes, has already has experienced many grand adventures in the past, which you can read about in Rachel Field’s most excellent novel, “Hitty Her First Hundred Years.” Here at the my backyard giant dollhouse, Much Ado About Nothing, my reproduction Hitty doll is enjoying new adventures with a jet-setting group of three tiny friends who are all seven inch tall vinyl Madame Alexander dolls. These tiny dolls, like Hitty herself, each have traveled to a different remote part of the world. One of Hitty’s friends has traveled to Mexico. Another of her friends has traveled to England. And the last, who returned from her travels with her very own kangaroo as a pet, has traveled all the way to Australia!
Scary Shirley is a realistic looking PlayPal doll, made by Danbury Mint. She stands a full thirty three inches high! Scary Shirley has a Mini-Me doll likeness of herself who is a soft sculpture Cabbage Patch Kid doll named Brook Leigh. Brook Leigh tells me that Scary Shirley claims it is this enormous height which caused her to feel she can keep the smaller dolls in line by calling herself a name as intimidating as “Scary Shirley.” However, just between you and me, I know that really, Scary Shirley is hoping that by calling herself Scary Shirley she will one day help herself to feel brave. Truly, Scary Shirley feels a bit self-conscious about how much larger she is than all the other dolls in the Much Ado About Nothing giant backyard dollhouse, but Scary Shirley wants so very much to someday be just as brave as she is big.
With a giant backyard dollhouse populated by a doll collections as varied in styles, materials, and sizes as mine are, I’m sure doll enthusiasts of all ages will find it easy to see can see why I feel so inspired to express my storytelling abilities in these photo stories about my doll collection. I hope that all who read these stories will enjoy them, and that everyone who comes here to read stories will also find something in your own lives that inspires you and brings joy, as my dolls have always brought me!
Iris Petra – March, 2017