Reviving Barbie’s Predecessors

I was reading my friend Mary McNinch’s charming blog about her play date with her granddaughter and my comment got so long I decided to turn it into a post.  Here it is: 

My housekeeper and friend Yolanda’s seven-year-old daughter Yoli was here one day and I dragged out all my old 9 inch dolls—precursors to Barbie.   Jan, Jeff and Cissette. (Although I couldn’t find Jeff.  Evidently they had a separation.) Yoli proceeded to dress them all wrong, putting Jan’s dress on Cissette (without belt and backwards at that) and dressed Jan in such a dowdy dress that it amazed me I’d ever chosen it in the first place. After she left, they stayed in place, waiting for her return, but school started and she hasn’t been back since. 

That is how, past midnight a few nights later, I found myself seated in front of my sewing table in my guest room, where I’d set Yoli up with the dolls and my Jill and Jan closet and the basket of clothes she’d neglected to put away.  After choosing the “right” clothes for each and dressing her, I replaced the detached doors of the closet, hung all the other clothes neatly in the closet, and posed the girls for best effect.  By then it was about 1:30 a.m. and I closed down the play date with myself and went to bed.  The next day, they had chosen to assume the same position I left them in. They’ve been there for a few weeks, but I have a party tomorrow night and decided it was time for them to go back into seclusion in my art studio.  Makes me kind of sad, though. Luckily, I had a photo shoot before assigning the gals back to the past. I neglected to do a photo shoot of Yoli’s choices of costume, but just as well, I don’t think her heart was really into “retro.”

Click on first photo to see larger views of photos and to see captions.

15 thoughts on “Reviving Barbie’s Predecessors

  1. Marilyn Armstrong

    I have about 20 dolls of that size, all of them in one wall-hanging cabinet — but downstairs, I probably have another three dozen of them that belonged to Kaity who has lost interest in them. I have some of the bigger fashion dolls — all pre-Barbi and some quite tall, like 20 inches or so.

    The dolls they make today aren’t cuddly or cute, at least not to me. They seem entirely … I don’t know … non-human and fakely plastic. There are a few exceptions, but mostly, they are unhuggable and sort of sad.

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    1. Mary Francis McNinch

      Priceless…Those beautiful dolls had to be hard to put away. I love the look on Yolanda’s face. I wish we lived closer so we could have play dates. Although, you would probably limit my contributions even more than Charlie does. She controls me with “the look!”

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  2. Mary Francis McNinch

    Priceless…Those beautiful dolls had to be hard to put away. I love the look on Yolanda’s face. I wish we lived closer so we could have play dates. Although, you would probably limit my contributions even more than Charlie does. She controls me with “the look!”

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      The house mine were in was blown away in a tornado but luckily the dolls were in the basement. I don’t know how i got them as most of the things there were taken by people who came in to scavenge when they knew it was going to be filled in. My brother-in-law went to get the safe and cedar chest so perhaps he grabbed my dolls as well. Some of them I thought had been lost were in my sister’s attic when I went to clear it out 8 years ago, but these I’d had. Perhaps I got them when my Dad died and I went to clear out the cupboards and closets so we could rent out the house. That is likely what happened because I had them later when I got married and my stepdaughter played with them. See how I’m thinking this through as I type? Rambling inspired by blogging…

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