Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Homely Rag Doll

I have been asked to tell the story of Miss Mary and I tell it in the hope that doll collectors everywhere will cherish that “less than perfect” doll.

I first saw her at a flea market- junk type store. You know the type, so much STUFF all over. They advertised antiques and had all kinds of items from floor to ceiling mixed in amongst each other, so that nothing could be found. The place was run by a lady named Anne and she and I had become friends with my many excursions to her shop. I had found some really neat things there and she saved stuff that she thought I might like.

I bought a little all bisque Simon and Halbig from her and got a great deal on an 1832 copy of the Ulster Gazette that proclaimed George Washington had died. I thought it was an original newspaper at first and wrote to the Smithsonian where a very nice man shared with me what I had to look for, if it is a real one. Mine proved to be the first copy made of that fateful newspaper and from 1832 and worth a couple thousand dollars, which on a return of 150 dollars was great for me:-). I had bought other bisque dolls, compositions dolls, and on this day I was looking for something else special to add to my collection.

I had moseyed up to the top floor which was chock full of furniture, baskets, old papers, and such and spotted what had to be the ugliest cloth doll I had ever seen. She was about 24” tall with a shock of black yarn hair, or at least what was left of it. It is very ragged around the edges. She is made of a pink cloth and it is not very soft. I think she was made to be durable. Last but not least, she has this weird pointy face.

As she sits here on my desk watching me write this, I can hear her saying, “ come on, get on with the telling.” She is just a little impatient as she always likes this story.

She has mitten hands with just the hint of a thumb, and her feet are pointing forward and have just been soft stuffed. They don't resemble feet but that is what she has!

She was sitting in a box upstairs where it is cold and her head just peeked out over the top of a box that she had been placed haphazardly into. She had this forlorn look on her face as I made my way in between the boxes and chairs to try and reach her. I picked her up and looked at that pitiful face as my mind raced with “ Gloria, hold on, wait just a minute, what are you THINKING?” I looked at her price tag of 9.00 and thought to myself, she is probably worth a tenth of that so it must have been a pretty bad first impression. LOL.

I placed her back in her box and I know that it must have broken her heart to have yet another rejection. I continued looking around the upstairs that day, for anything Worthy to take home, as she seemed to watch me and say “ is she the one? Is she going to take me home with her?”

I was thinking that there is no way that this doll belonged in my collection so I went home without her but I could not get her out of my mind. I chastised myself for being such a doll snob and for leaving this poor much loved doll in that cold damp atmosphere.

A couple of weeks later, I went back to the shop with a mission. My now ex-husband thought I had lost my mind but we made our way out to the shop with the intent of getting the doll because something about her had wormed its way into my heart. I did not think that anyone else would take that pitiful thing home so I had no worries as we started out.

We arrived and I made my way upstairs to find that everything had been changed around since my last visit and my heart almost stood still as I looked around the very large two roomed upstairs area for her. I searched through the boxes and could not find her. Mild panic ensued as I kept thinking, how could I have done such a thing, to not take her home when I had obviously connected on some level. Then I thought that someone had actually taken her home and felt happy for her but sad for me. I looked all over that shop, and still no pointy faced doll.

I finally asked Anne “where did that cloth doll go?” and she knew which one I meant because I had talked about her before. Anne told me that she was still here somewhere and the hunt began. I went back up those crooked stairs, among dusty furniture, past boxes filled with odds and ends of everything imaginable, before I finally saw a leg sticking out of a box in the back corner of the room. I had to pick my way gingerly past so many objects that I was afraid to fall over or fall into. I did not even know if it was her, but I think I held my breath all the way across the room. I finally managed to get to the leg and saw a dozen items packed on top of her. Really trashy items. A birds nest, crinkled newspaper, and debris from the floor where someone had swept. I forged ahead into the box without gloves and that is saying something because I am a Nurse and used to washing my hands. When I saw her blue dress, my heart did a little flutter. I managed to pull her out of the box she was buried in and there she was with her funny pointed face, and with a smirky smile that said, “ I knew you would be back” I hugged her to me as I picked her up; so thankful that she was still there and quietly asking her forgiveness.

She came home with me that day seeming to admonish me a little for taking so long to bring her home and I think she was trying to decide if I was worthy of having her in my home, as I had procrastinated bringing her into my life.

My search had ended and it didn't seem to matter anymore that she cost 9 dollars or that she was homely or anything else. I had my prize that day and it felt as good as a fine bisque because I had rescued a doll that someone had loved.

She became Miss Mary, named after my very fine daughter who is my Hero. It is not that my daughter is homely or plain, it is that she is always good, always giving to her friends. She is that friend that you can count on in a pinch and the one that you can talk too, when no one else cares to listen. I talk with Miss Mary a lot and she is a good listener;-)

We have been together since 1991 Miss Mary and I, and I have never regretted the day I pulled her out of that box. I only regret my thinking that she did not belong in my collection.

Here are a couple of pictures of her. Perhaps others in the group will see her charm or perhaps you may think I am “touched” but to this day she has a special place of honor in my large doll room.

Til next time, Kimmee

She is a doll with an attitude and shows it when I made her model these glasses for a friend.


  1. Hi Kimmee...(I tried commenting before but i was haveing problems with blog) I love this story, and Miss Mary is the sweetest doll. I believe she was waiting for someone like you , and no one else would do. She looks very happy at home with you. The poem about your brother brought tears to my eyes, Its so beautiful and sad, and so true of the disrepect that was given to those soldiers. "Born on the Fourth of July" is a movie that tells it all. I am very lucky to be a friend in FB. You ae a very nice person. HUGS!

  2. Thank you so much for reading and enjoying Miss Mary! She just does something for me and I am glad that she "waited" for me to come:-)

    I have talked to many Veterans about Vietnam and it left them with damage. I have only talked to a few that managed to come to terms with what happened and are able to live fully functioning lives. My poor brother is not one of those. He is so lost. I continue to pray for him and hope that one day he will find forgiveness from others and from himself!
    I am so glad that we met on FB too! It makes one feel less alone if they meet people walking a different yet similar path:-) Hugs to you, Kimmee