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Barbie never dies

Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2010, at 6:57 AM

This is the scene in my kitchen on Saturday, July 3, 2010, as my daughter Kristin washes her old collection of Barbie clothes, which she discovered in the basement this weekend.
This blog was written Saturday morning, July 3. The Barbie Collection is now completely restored and given a home back in Kristin's room, where it belongs, waiting for the next little girl to play with it.)

Yes, yes, I know: It's been a MONTH since I posted a new blog. My son's father-in-law (Brad Spears) reminded me of that yesterday at the big 4th of July bash at my son's house in Kelso.

This morning I wake up happier than I have been in years. My daughter is still sleeping upstairs as I make my coffee and take birdseed out to the feeders. The sun is just up, slanting through my bow window.

My kitchen cabinets are covered with clean Barbie doll clothes, something I never thought I would see again. It makes me so happy that I may have to stop and cry before I finish this blog.

Barbie, Barbie - how could you have given so much happiness to my daughter, my sister, and me so many years ago - and you're still going strong in 2010?

My sister was with us yesterday, as we began our day here at home, when the subject came up in the conversation. We told my friend about that year when Kristin came home from playing Barbies at a neighbor's house on the next hill. Her little friend had a beautiful wedding dress for her Barbie - and Kristin told of how wonderful it was. I felt a little sad for our own poorly-clad Barbie, and I told my mother, who had a drapery shop in Springfield at the time.

"Well, we'll see about that!" Mom said, in that determined voice we all knew so well.

The Barbie wedding dress launched Mom on a nightly sewing spree that lasted at least a year, maybe more. She sent my sister Kathy out to scour the stores for Barbie patterns, and she sat in her comfy chair at night, sewing up the tiny outfits by hand, as she watched TV.

It was a passionate project, as she made the delicate dresses, jackets, hats, and even purses.

My favorite creation was a Scarlet O'Hara confection, made of dusty pink lace, left over from the curtains she made for Kristin's room. She made a wide brim hat to go with the dress, of course, as elegant a bonnet as ever I saw!

Another favorite was a bright red sundress with matching wide-brimmed hat, a Lady-in-Red spectacular!

Not content to give her little granddaughter a new wardrobe for her precious Barbie dolls, Mom made a large wooden wardrobe closet, which she painted soft blue to match her room.

From wire, she fashioned little clothes hangers for each outfit. Mom was ever the one for detail. Her quilting stitches were so tiny that they looked as if they had been made by mice! (There's a Beatrix Potter story about some mice who live in a tailor's shop!)

By the time Kristin's mom and her Aunt Kathy had finished buying her practically every new Barbie doll that hit the store shelves during her childhood, she had a significant collection.

Yesterday, she went up to her room and brought down the box to sort through it on the same living room floor where she had played with her little friends 20 years ago. As we watched her, we talked about how my nine-month-old granddaughter Sophie would one day be able to play Barbie at MiMi's house in Tillman.

However, when Kristin had laid out each doll (some without heads), we realized that the Wedding Dress Barbie wasn't there! Horrors! This discovery resulted in a trip to the basement (NO! NOT THE BASEMENT!) Digging through the clutter, she found the little blue closet, which still had some dolls and clothes, moldering down there in the dampness. An old bank check box held the tiny shoes, while another long jewelry gift box contained sashes.

The next thing I knew, Kristin had dragged out a big metal bowl of soapy water, into which she put all the clothes and shoes. I found myself caught up in the project, just as I had been when she was little, playing dolls on the floor.

When she wakes up this morning, we'll find fresh, new boxes for the whimsical little treasures. The newly-washed closet will be brought in from the front porch. The clean dolls will be dressed with fresh clothes and packed away in Kristin's room, until another little girl will come to Grandma MiMi's house.

Then, the saga will continue, and I will hear that tiny voice, asking, "Who will play Barbies with me???"

On this fourth of July weekend, 2010, we thank you, Lord, for our families and this wonderful country. Keep us safe forever, so that our children may play in peace and contentment, while we watch over them in happiness and love.

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Such wonderful memories from everyone. Good to hear from you, brndoakley! You have a sweet brother!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Aug 2, 2010, at 7:11 AM

That's a lot of dolls sis, but I can believe this, poppy's such a pushover.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sun, Aug 1, 2010, at 3:20 PM

oh my,,,,i just read the article about barbie makes me miss my lovely granddaughter cayman this week end that much more,,,,she has every barbie ever made just ask her mom,,,,,hehe,,,,we love playing and dressing them,,,,i will put on an outfit and she will say ,,,no nana that is not the right clothes!!!! she has at least 150 barbies and she knows what outfits were on them when she got them!!!!(she is only 5!!!) loved this story,,brenda from texas,,,actually dexterites sister

-- Posted by brndoakley@yahoo.com on Sat, Jul 31, 2010, at 9:18 AM

I saw that the Etch-A-Sketch recently turned 50, and that it sells more today than when it was introduced in 1960. That is remarkable in this age of short attention spans and sophisticated electronic kids gadgets! See the Ohio news story,


-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Jul 18, 2010, at 5:42 PM

I still have my Barbie from 1963...and I always made her clothes myself...and I didn't even know they made patterns for doll clothes back then. The dress she is wearing now is made from leftover fabric and lace from the dress I made for myself for the Renaissance Festival here a few years back...peach satin, cream lace and tiny pearls...

-- Posted by BarbaraNTexas on Tue, Jul 13, 2010, at 5:24 PM

Barbie in a bridal gown--did she ever marry Ken? I didn't have Barbies, but I had small dolls who were not so anatomically mature. I made them lots of clothes on my little Singer machine. My daughter didn't play with Barbies either, but we have lots of Cabbage Patch dolls whose clothes were all laundered a few years back. It was indeed a bittersweet task. I have tons of saved items; therefore, my house is not the Good Housekeeping Award Winner. I cherish my THINGS more than a perfectly set house.

I wish I had a basement like yours--I could have saved even more mementos. Thanks for a good sentimental article!

-- Posted by GONENOW on Mon, Jul 12, 2010, at 12:09 PM

GL, I was commenting on Reporter MD's extraordinary photography skills, not Kristin's feet, which are not visible from close observation of the picture!

This optical illusion photo also reminds me of Bob Lanier, the great Detroit Pistons basketball star who wore a size 22 shoe!!! How could he even walk, much less run up and down a basketball court?!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sun, Jul 11, 2010, at 3:25 PM

I seriously doubt that Kristin will be amused by your astute observation, FJGuy!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jul 10, 2010, at 3:51 PM

Very observant FJGuy, I saw the same thing and realized it was a rooster. I loved the movie to which you are referring. I always felt pain for that dear girl.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Sat, Jul 10, 2010, at 6:33 AM

Reporter Madeline, you are such a photographic genius that this photo gave me flashbacks to Tom Robbins great book, "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." If you'll recall the main character is a woman of normal size with the world's biggest thumbs, which makes her the world's most successful hitchhiker. He likens her thumbs to having Stop signs attached to her hands. She sticks out a thumb and cars Stop!

Your photo of Kristin creates the optical illusion that her right foot is perhaps a size 20 (or bigger)! I had to look real close before I realized that what looks like her right foot is actually a Rooster on the placemat! HaHa!

-- Posted by FJGuy on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 4:10 PM

Now, Dexterite, why do you need the name of the city?? You're too late, anyway: The Chinese factory fell victim to the same fate as so many of our U.S. factories -- Mattel closed it several years ago and moved it somewhere else.

-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Jul 8, 2010, at 5:57 AM

Do you remember the name of the town??

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 1:07 PM

Hahahaha! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!! Yay for Barbie and Aunt Kathy on their purple Barbie horse with the decorative blanket!! I think I still have a pink Barbie car in the basement!

Mattel, your toy engineers created a masterpiece, when they came up with that blond bombshell of a doll!

On Barbie's last anniversary (100 years?) I did some research on the doll and discovered a town in China, where every woman in town worked at the Barbie doll factory! Fascinating!!! As I recall, the men waited outside the factory door to pick out beautiful wives for themselves!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 12:41 PM

Oh, Barbie was a good friend of mine. I didn't get the very first Barbie, mine was the next version out. She had a platinum blonde bubble cut hairdo and I was enthralled. I made outfits for her out of old matchless socks. I made a townhouse for her out of my pink bookcase with homemade furniture and scraps of fabric for rugs. I was pea-green with envy when I saw the first Barbie Corvette and even more envious of the first Barbie horse. Alas, those were tight times for my family financially. All I could do was suffer in silence. There was no sense in even asking.

When my neices, particularly Kristin, came along I was bound and determined that they would have all the Barbies and related paraphanalia they wanted. I don't think they had any complaints on that score. What fun it was. I never made a trip to any department store without a trip down the Barbie isle. When Mom embarked on the aforementioned Barbie wedding dress, I was an eager conspirator. I found the patterns, I scoured fabric stores for lux and classic fabrics and trims, I made tiny jewelry, I haunted doll shows. I brought home a prototype and the wire for the tiny clothes hangers. I held up one end of the wood while Mom sawed out the little wardrobe. I reveled in all things Barbie.

Alas, like Puff the Magic Dragon, Barbie and I had to make way for other toys. And for boys. Kristin moved on to other interests. I wandered down the Barbie isle in vain. Finally, I stopped going there. Sigh.

Hope springs eternal. Now I hear that I have great neices who like Barbie. Yes! Mom is gone, but Barbie and Aunt Kathy will ride again!!!

-- Posted by mokath52 on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 12:27 PM

Thank you for this sweet story. As Nana to a beautiful, smart three year old, I too , am in the process of bringing out of storage the many beloved Barbies of my daughters childhood....So much fun and such a sentimental journey.

-- Posted by cheers4dhs on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 12:25 PM

There must be millions of little girls that will forever remember the days of Barbie and Ken. Such fond memories will surely make everyone a little happier, sadder and smile as we recollect the days of yesteryear. Thanks for sharing a memorable day in your life and times.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Tue, Jul 6, 2010, at 11:00 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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