We are not related by blood but we walk a same path as surely as you are reading these words.
She and I “met” each other when I had just moved from California to Upstate NY in 1989. I had owned a home there for a few years prior to moving and now a divorce and new romance led me to my refuge in the secluded hamlet of DePeyster. The next 17 years were filled with many adventures, not all of them good. My new romance turned out to be “jumping from the pan into the fire” but I met someone there that made it possible for me to survive and her name was Irene.
I became a part of her family. I loved her children, I loved her husband, I loved her parents and sibling, and I loved her dolls.
I had just moved to the North Country and almost immediately started scouring the local antique and flea markets for my passion, which was dolls. I had a few hundred of them but was hoping to open a Museum in my big old farm house, and never knew that I opened something much bigger than a Museum, when I met Irene.
The local little Flea Market in De Kalb had a charming array of vendors that offered a smorgasbord of items for sale. I bought little things that first day and got to know the owners. I always like to get to know who I am going to be doing business with because when I buy dolls, I like to “like” the owners of those dolls. I know , it's probably weird but I love sweet spirited dolls. I am very empathetic and although these are inanimate objects to many, they are not that to me. I feel deeply. I care deeply, and I want things that live in my home to make me feel good about them being there.
On this wintry day with 6 feet of snow on the ground, I was inside cupping my cold hands around a strong cup of coffee and then I saw him. A Uneeda Biscuit Kid. He was off in the far corner and I scurried over there almost spilling my coffee to get him before anyone else saw him. Of course there were few people there but I did not want to chance missing him. He does not come up often for sale in good shape and this one was really nice. I picked him up, tucked him securely under my arm and a few minutes later noted the price tag of 55 dollars firm. That price tag is the only thing that kept him there for me. For what I did not know is that this was Irene's stomping ground and she got first choice of all dolls that came in But she NEVER paid more than 50 dollars for them:-) So that was why he was still sitting there awaiting ME!
I could see a man watching me as I roamed around the store and I saw at one point that he had a wife with him but neither approached me and I smiled and kept looking around. I was told that the conversation went something like this when I got to know them later.
She: She is carrying a doll!
He: Go over and say Hi
She: Awww she probably lives up in Canada or something. Everyone I meet that loves dolls live everywhere else but here.
He: well she is carrying a doll and I am going to go over and say Hi..
And he did. He introduced himself and Irene sauntered over. She did not want to be disrespectful because she knew that as a collector herself, when she was looking, She was looking, and she wanted uninterrupted time to LOOK.
I was happy to meet another collector. We exchanged small talk about our dolls. I told her I had a few hundred dolls of all materials, and invited her to come see them. She said she had a “few” (what an understatement that was) and then we got down to business. She hesitantly asked where I lived. I said DePeyster and she asked me to repeat it, not believing her good fortune because she lived in Heuvelton, only 5 miles away. Just a hop, skip, and a jump and I was at her home or she was at mine. Eureka we had finally found someone to share our love with that was nearby. I should tell you that I had only been in DePeyster a few weeks so it was very serendipitous to meet her so soon.
We were both so excited and so was her husband and we set a date for the following Thursday for her to come to my home. When you are talking dolls, you never know what type they will be. There could be 500 of those porcelain ones you see on home shopping networks, or there could be 500 Antique Bisque, Wax, and Papier Mache. I had the latter but I did not know what her collection entailed.
I gussied the house up and readied the dolls for viewing in the downstairs formal dining room with French Doors, and walked outside the doors and announced to the dolls that they looked ready and I better hurry, because a doll friend was coming to visit.
I hurriedly dressed and just as I finished I heard her Van coming up on the snow in the driveway. I rushed to the front door like a little kid hearing the Ice Cream truck, and there she was, carrying a Box. She had brought something to share!!!
I invited her in, offered her tea or dolls. She giggled and said Dolls.. We went into my doll room and I watched her face as she took in my collection. I could see the emotions on her face. The delight at my large ABG sitting at her dressing table with all her little accoutrement, the tiny all bisque darlings with tea parties, stores of merchandise, and the Uneeda Biscuit Kid sitting in his new place. She said Ohh, and ran to get her box and handed it to me. Inside was the Antique cardboard Uneeda Biscuit Kid Box of crackers to go with the doll. I thought she was just sharing with me, but she gave it to me. I was overwhelmed with this gift and teared up a bit and we hugged,like long lost sisters or kin. We were “Doll Buddies” in that moment. Simpatico and although I felt it at the time, I did not know at the time, that we would be tied to the hip from that moment forward.
To be Continued.. Kimmee
The Dolls as she saw them that day!