Your Old Toy, Your Spirit Companion



 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, an online publication focused on the humanity of medicine, and in the Sonoma Index-Tribune.

Kathy Speas


7 responses »

  1. My Shrinking Violette was a paper doll, and thankfully didn’t make such comments. I think I was about 4–I don’t remember a TV show or a real doll, but the paper version was one of my favorites. (She was a little chubby so her clothes were easier to cut out than most.) Thanks for the memory!

  2. This is a most interesting post! I like Kathy Speas’ reference to “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.”

    I can really understand this sentiment!

    Truth is, there would come a few years later “Patti Playpal,” and “Hedda Get Bedda,” and then Barbie (not the Barbie’s that seems to have assumed a thousand identities currently (Barbie the Doctor, Barbie the Gymnist”) but back when I was growing up there was simply a “Barbie Doll,” and the only diferences in Barbie amounted to “hair color.”

    I kept none of these. But when I was in my early 20’s I adopted Gund Bears! Transition completed!

  3. Kathy, Thanks so much for sharing your adventures with Violette. The day our golden retriever puppy destroyed my Violette’s face remains a sad day in my life.

    Happy holidays to Violettes and all dolls everywhere!

  4. Pingback: Remembering our childhood dolls - Montana Doll Lady - Livingston, Montana

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