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Friday, 13 September 2013

Double Treasures

IMPORTANT EDITORIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Stories for this blog are limited in length to 750 words. In recent weeks and months, however, many have strayed over that line – way over, in some cases.

So, to save my time and sanity, stories longer than 750 words will no longer be published.

Mission creep has also affected images lately. It is time consuming for me to prepare them for publishing so I am now imposing a limit of two photos per story.

I'm sure you understand. You can see all the rules and suggestions here and they are always available at the How to Submit link in the upper left corner of every page.

By Joyce Benedict

I turned six years old in 1942, living in Hollywood, Florida. I didn’t take to dolls. The mysteries of nature intrigued me then as now. This all changed when I received The Doll.

My grandmother, who we called Mama, visited us regularly from New York. These visits were occasions of great joy and adventure. When she hugged me, the senses reeled from her perfume and soft furs that tickled my nose.

Prosperity came to my grandparents late in their lives. My grandfather’s company in New York City flourished. My grandmother began shopping at the best stores and the wonderful, magical Christmas presents followed.

One Christmas came The Doll. She stood about two feet high and came with her own wardrobe trunk. It was a small replica of a real steamer trunk. You stood them up on their sides, opened the latches and on the left side were drawers, on the right side were hangers for clothes. Usually they were cloth-lined.

The drawers had beautiful brass circular latches to open them and there were secret compartments everywhere. The Doll came in just such a trunk. My twin sisters received smaller versions.

Still vivid in my mind is the experience of first opening that two-and-a-half-foot-high, miniature, metal marvel. There she stood with strawberry curls, gorgeous eye lashes and movable eyes. Her rosebud lips were slightly parted and her arms and legs moved.

She was wearing a floral print cotton dress and grown-up high heels. The dress had a lace collar with white cuffs on its short sleeves. A sweater that had white cuffs on short sleeves was draped around her shoulders. A purse with workable clasp and bracelet were on her wrist and she wore a tiny pearl ring on one finger to complete her outfit.

As I explored, I found treasures of clothes and finery I have never seen before or since. She had a stunning, white wool, rabbit-fur-trimmed, ice-skater’s outfit with matching fur hat that tied under the chin. In addition to the embroidered designs on the skirt and fitted jacket, she came with her own pair of white leather ice skates with steel blades.

Tucked away in another drawer was a red satin roller-skating outfit complete with delightful little leather roller skates in their own box. I can still hear the exciting “whoosh” sound as I rolled The Doll across the living-room floor.

My favorite outfit was an evening dress made of blue satin matched with Cinderella-like glass high-heeled slippers. She wore this with a spectacular evening cape - gold velvet, satin-lined with fur gracing the hood. She had a velvet, rhinestone-studded evening bag and jeweled bracelet to complete her stunning evening attire.

During those years in Florida, my mother’s divorce became final and she met and married a Navy navigator. Our family was transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas. Mother hated saving things and none of the dolls made it to Texas. With two new brothers coming into our lives, the important victory garden to keep up, school schedules, the memory of The Doll was soon erased from my mind.

My life’s travels and relocations have been extensive. I have wandered through many a toy department over the years looking for a facsimile of The Doll. Nothing today comes remotely close to her precise elegance and quality nor have I ever seen the craftsmanship of that steamer chest.

Mine must have cost Mama hundreds of dollars even 70 years ago. Save having one handmade today, even millionaires and royalty could not have provided a child such a gift.

Recently, as I described The Doll to my grown son, I became poignantly aware of the other treasures such reflections of The Doll evoked - those are so many loving memories of my grandmother.

Yes, she had been constantly accused of spoiling me rotten and contributing to my childhood weight problem. But my vivid memories only reflect on a patient and generous lady. She never criticized me, she always loved me and she nursed my tears and offered her lap when I needed a loving retreat.

Many years later on a hot summer’s night, four days after receiving the telegram of her death, a strong presence of perfume permeated the room where I sat writing a letter. It was too strong to have drifted from a distant source and in through the second-story window. I lived on a quiet residential road.

Moments later I recognized the smell of Mama’s perfume. The Dearest Doll in my life had come to say farewell.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Great story....loved your description of The Doll and all her beautiful clothes. What treasured memories.

What a wonderful story!Your precise descriptions take me back to my dolls and special gifts that somehow got away as I became too grown-up to hang on to them. Winding up with a husband who hated anything old took its toll on memorabilia. So sad for my girls later on.

What a sweet story! I can see the doll was very precious to you since you remember the details so vividly.

Lovely, beautiful story. I had dolls I loved with the same fierce maternal feelings I felt for my babies later. I can picture yours very clearly, and I loved those little skates and that wonderful trunk. Sigh... such sweet memories...

I loved this story, reminded me of my special aunt who came to visit with wonderful treats!

I can't believe your mother got rid of all your dolls. How sad, and heartbreaking for you and your sisters, surely. I remember getting some wonderful paper dolls from older cousins.They had some cardboard furniture you could put together and my sister and I proceeded to do so, even though it was our bedtime. We ignored our mother's warnings that she was going to throw them out if we didn't get to bed. By morning our mother had thrown them out in the garbage. My sister said that this never happened and it was a dream. Maybe so, but after 76 years I still remember how bereft I felt.

Funny how you wrote about the beauty of this doll, but never once about how you played with it. The most important association seems to be the classiness and craftsmanship of the doll which matched the classiness of your grandmother. You were very fortunate to have had such wonderful memories of a person who loved you.

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