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For the Love of Christmas and Dolls  

2022 Bronzeville Baby, Barbara Ann. One of Rhonda’s soft sculpted doll creations. To learn more about the Bronzeville Babies, check out the Garden Spices archived article: Rhonda Ingersol Hardy and Her Bronzeville Babies, May 4, 2016”.


By Rhonda Hardy

My love of dolls goes way, way back to Christmas time as a little girl.  Christmas was magical and meant that I was going to get a new doll.


– My first memorable doll was the Tiny Tears™ doll. Some reason I mainly remember that the doll smelled like rubber (yes, real rubber body) with a hard, shiny plastic head attached. I named her Cindy Lou. I held onto her till the end of my college days. By then, her rubber body was crumbly, and all the paint on her hard plastic face was gone.

-My dad loved Christmas more than anyone I’ve ever known. We would ride the public transit downtown to Marshall Fields every year to see the beautifully decorated windows. Then my two sisters, dad, and I would go into their Christmas Toyland area. That’s where I saw the real Shirley Temple doll. She had light brown curls and wore a red plaid skirt and matching beret. Yes, I got her for Christmas that year.


– The year the Chatty Cathy™ doll came out, my sisters, Julie and Brenda, had to have her. Daddy found two at the last minute at a little toy shop in our neighborhood. I don’t remember if our car was broken or maybe we did not have one at the time. Mama wrapped us up to brave the cold, and we walked to the toy shop about six blocks to pick up the dolls. The shopkeeper had wrapped the boxes in brown paper so we could not see what was inside. But we knew. Of course, they were under the tree come Christmas morning.


-We had a ‘doll party’ one year at mama’s suggestion. Of course, dad took the lead; he was up for anything that had to do with Christmas. All the neighborhood girls aged 6-12 brought their dolls to the party. We played games and even had a beauty contest. We carried our dolls down the runway to be judged for the prettiest hair, prettiest eyes, and cutest outfit. I remember two things from that party. One, I cried because my doll did not win anything. But daddy reminded me that I was a host and was supposed to let my guests win! The second thing I remember is one little girl came with an obviously old doll, not a new shiny one like all the other little girls. She won first place for the prettiest face.


-I did get a Barbie doll one year. But to tell you the truth, I was not a big fan. I never felt the closeness that I felt for the other dolls. I could not relate to her tiny lady’s body or her clothes. 

-There are so many stories to tell. Like when both of my sisters got three-feet dolls, much to mama’s consternation. Mind you; we were three girls in a little bedroom. Where were those three-foot dolls going to fit, standing all erect with blond hair and blue eyes staring? They were gone by the end of summer.


Ahh . . . those were ‘simpler times. Now I look at the awesome array of doll choices that, back in the day, we could have never envisioned . . . dolls of all shades, purposes, and themes. But looking back, each Christmas brought me a new doll and a new learning experience along the way.

 

Rhonda Hardy


Rhonda Hardy is president and lead designer for Rhonda Hardy Designs (www.rhondahardydesigns.com). Her company specializes in soft-sculpt art dolls and home décor textiles. Read her past article in Garden Spices Magazine titled: “Rhonda Ingersol Hardy and Her Bronzeville Babies” (May 4, 2016)

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