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Holiday Special, 1998

Our Favorite Dolls, Stuffed Animals and Toys

Thanks, Gwen, for the great idea of having us put together memories of some of our favorite dolls, stuffed animals and toys. It's really interesting that Gwen, Betty, Jo and Margy remember the same Christmas, and Karen and Fran share memories of another Christmas. Enjoy reading these, everyone!


I remember getting my last doll. Joanne and I picked them from the Sears Catalog and they came for Christmas (although Betty's didn't arrive. I think she peeked.) That was the best Christmas of my entire childhood. I LOVED that doll. The feeling was much like those I had when my children were born. You may remember that on Christmas, after we received our gift (singular) and our orange and candy, we all knelt down to pray. Dad prayed and prayed so I took a peek at my doll and Marg was cutting its hair! I suppose the prayer was ended when I shrieked. We had DOLL DAY at school (pressure from the girls in the class) and I waited with such excitement for the day when I could take my doll to school and show everyone my prize. When the day finally came I had a high fever and sore throat and couldn't go to school! Major disappointment. The teacher allowed me to bring her another day but it wasn't the same; I couldn't show the girls that mine was the BEST doll ever.

I took my doll, Peggy, to boarding school in Kodai and she was my comfort when I got homesick. I sat in my bed and sewed all sorts of clothes for her - pjs, coats, dresses, hats, etc. When I went home for vacation I begged and stole scraps of cloth to take back to school the next term. I had an entire suitcase of clothes for her but when we came back to America somehow those got left behind. Fortunately Peggy made it back. She sits in my living room in mother's old doll buggy. Her front hair is still cropped but she seems quite happy and content. I have some beautiful expensive dolls now but none has the same place in my heart as Peggy. I wonder if girls today have dolls they love this much? Maybe their blankies serve the same purpose.

Gwen's doll Peggy


I had no dolls. I had ordered one for Christmas but it went to Gwen or Joanne because the one they had ordered did not open and shut its eyes and Mom and Dad were reluctant to keep it. They asked me to be generous and give up the doll. I got a robe for keeping warm. It probably did me more good but I gave up on dolls at that time. I loved paperdolls, however, and we played them for hours. I actually cannot recall what I got for Christmas most years of my life. I can recall some things I embroidered for Mom and a book we bought Dad. We made so many of our gifts and drew names so I don't recall them. I hope others can do better. I do recall the odd trees we found in India and the paper ornaments we made. The stress was on the making more than the end product or giving. I liked it and think it was good to focus on the religious meaning.


One year when I was about four years old, Grandma Hiebert got Fran and me some dolls for Christmas. Fran got a beautiful, plump, golden haired doll called Bonnie. I was enraptured by this doll so I put the lid on the box of mine and proceeded to pester Fran for hers. Mom felt sorry for me so she went out and bought me a doll from the thrift shop - unfortunately I didn't like this one much better as it was small, skinny and had grey hair!

Fran Friesen and her memory of that Christmas:

I have two memories: 1) Maybe Phyllis already wrote this, but I remember Christmas Day, about 1969, when Grandma Hiebert (Anna) sent us girls dolls. I opened my package and fell absolutely in love with my doll who had cloth arms and body and plastic head with eyes with lashes that opened and shut. Karen got a smaller doll, which she immediately threw down, never giving it a second look. She spent the day fighting over mine. My doll, Bonnie, was and still is considered a good friend, though a little worn by now (Mom even painted a picture of her once for me!); she remains one of the best gifts I have ever received.

2) An incident Daniel(my five year old son) often begs me to retell: It goes something like this: when I was about Daniel's age, I had a girlfriend, Patty Wiebe. We both loved dolls. I had a life-size "walking" doll; she had a Chatty Kathy doll. One unfortunate day, Patty accidentally broke the walking capacity of my doll. I, furious, turned around and pulled the talking string out of her doll. All I remember after that is that there was a long stretch before I was allowed to see Patty again!


Of course, I have to talk about NOODLENECK, the doll of my life. Phyl made me a very big rag doll when I was five - it was about as big as me. She was called Noodleneck because her head had a tendency to flop to the side. But I loved her dearly. I don't know what happened to her but for years and years afterwards I tried to recreate Noodleneck - to no avail. I made many large dolls but they never had the same personality as Noodleneck.

Phyl, for my 50th birthday, will you make me another Noodleneck?


When I was young I had a best friend named Morgie. Morgie was a beige dog doll with a black nose and a little red tongue. Everywhere I went, Morgie went. He fit perfectly in the crook of my arm. I remember that his house was an empty ice cream tub we picked up at an ice cream parlor. It was difficult for me when Morgie "wore out." Suddenly, there appeared another Morgie, brand new to replace him. For awhile, I carried both around. I'm not sure what happened to the original -- Mom probably snuck him away. But I immediately adopted the new Morgie. He is one of the earliest friends I ever had.


It's interesting that Betty, Gwen and I all remember the Christmas of the two dolls, only we each remember it a little differently. The ACTUAL story is this (since I'm the one that remembers it the best):

Mom and Dad wanted to get dolls for Betty, Gwen and me that Christmas, and they planned to get them by ordering them through the Sears catalog. They showed us the pictures of the dolls and since I wasn't really crazy about having to take care of a doll, I chose one that slept all the time. I figured that way I could play ball and do other things I'd rather do and not have to be bothered with doll-caretaking. Gwen and Betty each chose dolls that opened and shut their eyes and acted like real time-consuming babies.

Well, the order from Sears came and there was no doll with its eyes shut.....only the two dolls that Betty and Gwen had wanted. Mom and Dad made a difficult decision: they figured that it would be too hard to give Gwen a doll and not me, since we always played together, so they gave me the doll Betty had wanted; there was no time to order another doll for Betty, or maybe they were already out of those.

When I opened my present, I was surprised---and a bit disappointed---to find a doll that required tending to rather than that nice doll who conveniently slept all the time. I adjusted, though, and named her Connie. Margy did cut her hair, but that didn't bother me since Connie mostly sat on my bed. I learned to love her, and she went to Kodai and Hillsboro with me. She never did get many clothes since I hated sewing. Somewhere after the days in Hillsboro she disappeared, along with all the other things from my childhood. I'm glad Gwen still has hers, I'm glad Margy has her own dolls so she can cut their hair, and I'm especially glad that Betty got Mom's German doll so now I don't have to feel guilty getting her doll years ago.


I remember a few distinct things about dolls in my childhood. My first doll was, I think, a "Betsy Wetsy" complete with a little book about her. I remember playing with her for hours in Shamshabad. At one point I laid her on my bed and left the room. When I walked back into the room, her head turned on the pillow somehow, and I was absolutely and totally convinced that doll was alive. The thrill I experienced was just magical. No one could convince me otherwise. The next I remember is in Hillsboro, where I had quite a collection, all lined up at bedtime in a row for sleep. One doll, Susie, had a ceramic head that was scratched and worn, and one eye rolled up into her poor cracked head. I felt so tender-hearted for this pitiful creature that she got two blankets instead of only one like the rest. She also got extra kisses and the very last kiss & hug for the night. I do remember also (a shameful story that perhaps negates my tenderness for Susie) that I apparently cut off the hair from Jo's and Gwen's new Christmas dolls in Reedley out of envy--my doll only having painted hair instead of a soft wooly wig.

My favorite dolls now represent the love and creativity of family members: "Annie" made by Gracie (Annie sleeps on my bed all the time), my "last doll" from Mom given to me in high school (do you all remember the "last doll" tradition too?), the graceful elegant Indian doll and the rag-mop doll both made by well as a few folk dolls I have acquired in Central America during my travels. And I plan to collect a few more along my road through life!!


When I was little I had a black and yellow monkey that held a banana in his hand. I wouldn't go anywhere without that monkey. While on vacation in Colorado with my family, my brother and sister decided it would be fun to hide my monkey from me. I looked and looked and cried and cried and didn't find the monkey. It turns out they had hidden it under the bed and when we left the hotel, they forgot to get it out and my monkey was left behind. I never saw him again and I'm sure I made the rest of the trip miserable for my parents because I can remember crying for my monkey. My brother and sister were severely punished but not enough for me!


Gentry is now two and a half and has a stuffed animal that is definitely his favorite. It is a small, blue unspectacular bear that is very soft and cuddly. Its name is Blue Bear. Gentry loves his Blue Bear and uses him anytime he needs some comforting. This includes when he gets hurt or in trouble but is mainly for when it's time for bed. Every night before Gentry goes to bed he asks for Blue Bear. We have been able to find him for Gentry every night except for one. This last summer we went on a camping trip and forgot blue bear. We thought we could console Gentry with other things so he could get to sleep ok. This didn't work well as Gentry cried for about half an hour before sadly going to sleep. Gentry still remembers that night once in awhile and gets a sad look on his face when he tells us about the night we forgot blue bear. We have not forgotten blue bear since and Gentry has slept much better and happier. Gentry sure does love his blue bear.


Stuffed animals were never as important to me as sporting items, such as a baseball cap, basketball or baseball glove. Of these, a particular baseball glove was the most important and memorable to me. I remember carrying the glove around with me when it was new throwing a baseball into it trying to break it in. Once broken in, I took it everywhere. Whenever I rode my bike I would wrap the glove around the handlebars in case I found a place where a baseball game was going on, or ended up at a friends' who wanted to play catch. I even slept with the glove in bed with me at times. One funny thing I remember is that I always wanted dad to play catch with me. After awhile he would say he had to stop because his arm hurt. I didn't understand how your arm could hurt from playing catch and thought he just wanted to stop. Now that I'm older I do understand. Eventually I outgrew the glove and by that time it was so raggedy that I needed a new one anyway. As anyone knows, though, who has played a lot of baseball, a new glove that is stiff and doesn't feel like it "fits like a glove" is never as good as the old one, at least until it starts to feel a little bit old and used itself.


I once had a Dydee doll, very cute, for whom I made the most special clothes, such as a pink-and-green popcorn stitch knitted dress, and a white eyelet sleeveless dress which I embroidered around the eyelets. I can still see that doll and those clothes. But alas, all have vanished. I also once had a Shirley Temple doll, now a collector's item, but it too has vanished. My first attempt to sew a dress for a doll was in Mt. Lake when I was maybe 8--I found a piece of cloth, laid the doll on it, and cut around her. I sewed the dress and found, to my surprise, that it was much too allowance had been made for seams. I don't remember actually PLAYING with dolls--just made clothes.


I'm not sure how old I was but it must have been around age eight that my aunt and uncle bought me the nicest two-wheeled scooter that a little boy could ever have. It was red with some green trim. For quite awhile, I kept this important possession at their house. I can remember zooming around the big furnace downstairs.

I wanted to leave the scooter at their place because of the nice riding area in the basement and, more importantly, because I really didn't want to take it home and share it with my little brother David (who was five or so). After some persuasion from my mom and dad, I finally brought it home and shared it with David, with strict rules attached. I found that to be a mistake! One summer day he took the scooter out in the neighborhood for a spin and was apparently distracted by some of his little friends. He left the scooter in the neighbor's drive....and you can imagine what happened. It was a sad, sad sight once the neighbor's car had rolled over it. I never did get another scooter.......and I don't want to talk about it any more.


I would have to say that my favorite childhood toy was the Lego set that we had. Over the years we got several sets of the plastic building blocks, and soon had an entire cardboard 5-gallon ice cream barrel full of them to use.

I would dump them out on the floor and play with them all day. My usual subject matter was vehicles, typically of the flying variety. I once built a moon rocket that must have been over 5 feet tall, as I remember it reaching up to my upper berth in our bunkbeds. I am sure that my folks got tired of stepping on those little, sharp blocks covering the living room floor for days!

Whether I ended up becoming an engineer because I played with Legos, or played with Legos because I was becoming an engineer I will never know, but I think there is a certain mindset for those people who play with Legos. I know that if I took a set of Legos in to my office I would have many of my fellow engineers wander in and want to play with them. Why spend your time worrying about multi-million dollar satellite ground station systems when you can mess around with a bunch of colorful,plastic, interconnecting blocks!


As for my favorite stuffed animal: I did not bother with such artificial stuff. I had the real thing: a horse!