Growing up we didn’t have much, but I remember when my sisters and I received our dolls one Christmas. They were all similar except for the hair color. We named them accordingly, Blackie, Blondie, and Brownie.
My doll was Blackie, and her hair was tightly curled, little black ringlets. Her blue eyes fringed in black eyelashes opened and closed. Velvety soft vinyl arms and legs extended from a soft little stuffed body.
When summer came, daddy filled the sandbox with fresh sand and my doll accompanied me out to play. My sisters kept their dolls nice, but mine was worse for wear. I made up all kinds of adventures to include Blackie. We had an upstairs bedroom in which my sisters and I slept, and I would routinely have my Blackie walk the plank out the upstairs window and then run down the stairs and outside and around the apartment building to scoop her up, nurse any injuries, and make sure she was good for the next adventure.
Another wonderful feature my Blackie came with was her thumb and big toe. They were each the right size to fit through the holes on the shelving unit which held our television. On Sundays, while I watched Davey and Goliath, Blackie would dutifully hang from the shelf’s leg near me.
One day, I left Blackie in the sandbox when mama called us in for lunch. When I went out again, my beloved Blackie was nowhere to be found. I remember crying and being filled with anxiety. Mom said a dog had probably picked her up and carried her off. This was the worst news I could ever imagine hearing at my age and as the rest of the day went on, my anxiety grew wondering what was happening Blackie.
When daddy came home, we all went for a walk looking in the woods behind where we lived to see if we could find my doll, but our search was fruitless. We walked the path stepping on high weeds, shuffling through the crunching leaves beneath our feet, and breaking off tiny dead branches in our way all to no avail. Blackie was nowhere to be found and I was heartsick.
Some weeks later, after a shopping trip, my parents came back beaming. They said they had found a Blackie doll for me. How excited I was as I opened the beautifully wrapped gift. I could hardly breathe. Then, there she was, a doll baby with dark curly hair, and eyes that opened and closed. The resemblance to my Blackie ended there. I’m sure my fallen face and cool reaction to the substitute dolly must’ve disappointed them, maybe even hurt their feelings.
The doll had hard plastic legs and forearms and no thumb or toe to hang on the shelving unit as they were made “stuck together”. This was important to my four-year-old self. My parents had tried hard to make my happy and my four-year-old self was pointing out all the things this baby would not be able to do. Pouty Kathryn.
Time does pass, and I did learn to love her. One of her hard plastic legs cracked open and broke and I immediately felt sorry for the doll I had dismissed. I bandaged up her leg and she became my injured baby needing love and attention.
Packed away, in a box in the basement, I still have this doll with her bandaged leg. She is the lone survivor of all the toys that have come and gone in my life.