A post by my childhood friend Kathy Speas:
Let’s face it — everybody has some kind of stuffed toy. A teddy bear? A stuffed cat or little dog? A plush frog that somebody just thought was oh too cute, and there’s your birthday present?
Admit it — you have one. You’re not quite sure why you’re so attached to it, but you are.
My toy is a doll. Her name is Violette — Shrinkin’ Violette, Mattel 1964.
People ask, “Oh, are you a doll collector?” No, I just never grew out of playing with dolls.
Psychologists like to call Violette a “Transitional Object,” something a 5 year old would cling to until the child felt safe in the world. I feel less safe in the world than I did when I was 5.
My husband calls my love for Violette “Like a Crazy Cat Lady, Only With Dolls,” and worries that I will become a hoarder. This is because I stalk Violette on eBay, buying the ones who look like a little stuffing/purple thread/glue TLC might make them resemble the Mint-In-Box beauties that go for $300+.
She prefers to be called an “Antique Soft Sculpture Collectible,” definitely NOT, “Old Rag Doll.”
My mother gave her to me for Christmas, the year I informed Santa that I was Too Old For Dolls,and wanted roller skates. My mother said, “I thought she looked like you.” This explains quite a bit about my self-image.
She is very shy, a shrinking violet, which I most definitely was NOT –not in 1964, not ever. She talks, saying things that make today’s Girl Power champions cringe:
“I’m afraid of noisy boys.”
“I’m just afraid of everything.”
“I wish people wouldn’t look at me.”
“Will you take care of me?”
Mostly, she keeps bad spirits out of my bed, but she has had some adventures. Here she is with cowboy boots:
Visiting the world’s largest (over 8,500) collection of teddy bears at Teddy Bear Town in Hillside, South Dakota:
Dressed up for Mardi Gras:
Don’t you be shy — take your stuffed toy off the shelf, and out into the world! For Pete’s sake, get it out of the closet — they hate the closet! Talk to it, you’ll be amazed at what you hear back.
In many cultures, dolls and figurines are noted to have spiritual power. Let your toy be your spirit guide.
Shrinkin’ Violette was made in 1963-1964, and based on a character in a TV series called “The Funny Company.” Kathy and I both got Violettes for Christmas, but sadly a few years later, mine was eaten by our golden retriever puppy.
Rev. Kathy Speas is an ordained Swedenborgian minister, recently retired after 10 years of hospice chaplaincy. She lives in Northern California with her husband and a host of cloth collectibles. Her writing has appeared on pulsemagazine.org, an online publication focused on the humanity of medicine, and in the Sonoma Index-Tribune.