Today I bought a Christmas gift for my four-year-old granddaughter. A set of prince and princess paper dolls. With a modern twist. True, they are fashioned with the familiar flatness of old, but made out of wood rather than cardboard and their whimsical-woody-wardrobes attach to each form magnetically.
Nice. No paper hinges to tear off at the dress’s shoulders and sides. No ruining your favorite paper doll by coaxing her cardboard cuteness into a chair, bending her at the backside and knees.
Not that I ever did such a thing.
As the sales clerk rang up my gift, we reminisced about how we’d once played with our paper dolls until the edges were frayed and worn with wear. She mentioned having an entire set of the lovely Lennon Sisters (as Lawrence Welk used to say).
“Lucky you,” I said. “I used to channel Janet Lennon, singing ‘Getting to Know You’ all around the house, hoping to be discovered.”
The clerk laughed, understanding.
I added, “Of course, that was after I’d channeled Shirley Temple and retired ‘On the Good Ship Lollipop.’”
Her eyes lit up. “I had Shirley Temple, too!”
Wow. I don’t remember having celebrity paper dolls. But I didn’t suffer. Every month I looked forward to carefully cutting out the Betsy McCall doll and her fashion-forward outfits from Mother’s latest McCall’s magazine. I glued Betsy to some thick paper, trimming away the excess, so she’d last until next month’s issue.
When I turned ten, my artist-mom made original paper dolls to give all the guests at my birthday party. She spent days sketching and coloring and cutting. Every doll had an extensive wardrobe and boy-oh-boy, were the girls ever awed to receive something so special. No one else’s mother attempted such a feat. I felt as famous as Shirley Temple for many days after that.
And now, years and years later, it’s time to introduce the current version of paper dolls to Sidney Anne.
Welcome to my world, little one.