This is me, 6 years old, showing off my new “Laura Ingalls” dolly.
My favorite Auntie gave her to me at Christmas, a handmade treasure she bought from a woman at her work who crafted dolls in her spare time. My cousin Heather and I always used to play “Mary and Laura” together. She was older, and I had the longer hair and freckles like TV Laura, so you can guess who played who! Sometimes, however, we would take turns pretending to be blind like Mary, acting like we couldn’t see things but keeping our eyes open, or we’d try to wend our way around by touch instead of sight. A bit unsettling to think of now, but as children, we didn’t really understand the implications so much as we were fascinated with the idea of blindness. Perhaps this had something to do with our grandmother losing her sight in one eye right around the same time as this game-playing. I don’t know that we consciously connected the two, but my adult mind ponders the possible correlation.
Anyway, Heather got the “Mary” doll, with long blonde braids and enormous blue eyes, and, naturally, I got the “Laura” doll. Each doll had a felt body, so they weren’t really designed for regular play by little girls. I guess I was more of a doll kid than Heather, since hers always seemed so perfect, lined up along the wall in her room, whereas mine were always a bit disheveled and in regular need of repairs to clothing or new hairstyles. Hmmm….
Decades later, we both still have our dollies, but Mary has fared better than Laura, and, at last report, Mary is safely stored away with all of her felt essentially intact.. I still have Laura, but she has been so loved I am sad to report her health is not so vibrant as it once was. She has holes in her wrist and face, and one leg has a very large patch of torn felt, as well as having detached from her body! But, I still have her clothes, although her shoes are on the feet of another dolly whose cloth “skin” is in better shape, but whose own shoes have disappeared.
One other thing: Oddly, Mary had a bonnet, but Laura didn’t. Perhaps this was a nod to the girls’ habits in the books or on TV. Good girl Mary always kept hers on and scolded Laura for her propensity to not wear it. I always wished my Laura dolly had one so I could hang it down her back in proper “naughty” Laura style…and I’m betting many of you would have felt the same way!
What Laura treasures have you had forever? Are there any you once had, but have somehow lost or given up? What were they? I’d love to hear about the things you treasure in your homage to Our Girl.
P.S…Note Laura’s huge BROWN eyes! I think the dollmaker must have modeled her after the tv show, since we all know what color LIW’s eyes really were…