by twizeltheresa Pro @ 2015-07-06 – 13:51:29

Hi Everyone, welcome back to part 2, Dawn’s Lunch.
This was my first visit to Dawns home as i previously mentioned. Dawn lives in a beautiful farm house surrounded by over 100 acres of land. Please see the photos below.

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I think you will agree that you would never get tired of looking out of your window to such beautiful views.

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(Above some more photos including Dawn’s great herb garden.)

Around the lake there were a pair of Swans with their signet, i didn’t want to intrude too closely on them as previous interactions with large feathered birds have taught me to be a bit cautious!

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(Above the lake and swans)

Dawns garden was full of life with a water feature pond and brightly coloured flowers.

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When i arrived at Dawns, Tim was not there and Dawn explained that he was out on the motor bike bringing in the ponies. I must have been looking a bit baffled and then Dawn explained that when the ponies hear the motor bike they follw Tim back to the paddock, and they did just that, it was amazing.

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Everyone started to arrive and Dawns home was filled with the chatter of old and and new friends and of course some sasha dolls.

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As i mentioned before sasha dolls were enjoying a bit of mingling too.
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(Above is my little tribute to the sasha Festival in Texas this year as I cannot attend. The two young rooting, tooting men on horse back are none other than my caleb wearing a horse themed jacket that was made by Ginny lee Myres from the 2012 Festival and my raffle boy who is wearing some suede chaps that I made for the occasion. Their weapon of mass distuction was sent over form the USA by Marti murphy.)

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(Above is Pippin proudly showing off her pram and litle baby that was a gift from Rosie Shortell.)

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(Above is a little group that I believe belong to Judith of dolly doodles, but please correct me if I am wrong)

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(Above is a striking young lady who belongs to Jocelyn rose)

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(Above this lovely group belongs to Dee Owen with Hattie standing at the front.)

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(Above these three beauties belong to Sarah Price.)

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(Above we have a mixed group)

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(Above another mixed group of lovely sasha and gregors.)

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(Above is Harlequin, owned by Tricia and created by Janet, just wonderful)

Now did someone mention prams. I must say that i was in pram heaven.

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Dawns sasha family definately have lots of toys to keep them amused.

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Next it was off to visit Dawns special doll room that is only accessable by ladder. I got up the ladder fine, the getting down was a bit more difficult though.
i have taken photos of the dolls in the room but the flash on the camera has caused too much reflection on them to be published.However, i must say that if ever Dawn can’t get back down the ladder, she will have plenty to keep her occupied.

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(Above is a photo of Petrana who had suddenly developed a maternal bump after visiting the doll room mmmmm)

Back inside the house to meet Dawns studio dolls.

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(Above Dawns beautiful studio girl in gingham)

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(Above Dawns studio bebe’ in red duffle coat with very expressive eyes.)

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(Above Janet has fallen in love with Dawns little bebe’)

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(Above is a lovely early studio doll)

I asked Dawn if she had to choose one of her dolls which one would it be and she chose this one.

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I quite agree she is a beautful bebe’ studio doll and as soon as I held her I felt the urge to sing her a lullaby, ( I didn’t though as my singing is not that good)

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It seems i was not the only one who fell in love with this little bebe’

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Finally Dawns studio toddler, very rare and handsome too.

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Well thats all from me, except to say a huge thank you to Dawn for sharing her story, her home and her wonderful collection with us.

Hi everyone I am a bit late in posting this profile as I have had major computer issues.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, so without further ado.
I give you the lovely Dawn Law

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(The photo above is a recent photo of Dawn)

At a Sasha Festival in the USA some years ago, I listened as a very knowledgeable Sasha doll collector suggested that most middle aged women who collect dolls, do so as the result of either a deprived or abused childhood. I do not fit into either of these categories having had a very happy and almost idyllic childhood.

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(Above Dawn aged 3 years old)

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(Above Dawn aged 4 years old)

We lived on the outskirts of a small village in rural Hertfordshire, and my early memories are of days spent playing with friends and a sense of complete freedom. We would knock on a friend’s door to find out if they could come out to play. We roamed the surrounding fields and woods in the school holidays, picking bluebells, bringing home tadpoles in a jam jar and watching them grow into frogs. It is so different now, who would let five and six year olds stay out most of the day, with a sandwich and some lemon barley in a string bag. As long as we were home by teatime, we were completely unsupervised.

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(Above dawn aged nine)

The primary school was more than a mile away on the other side of the village. At five years old, we walked there, returning home for lunch and back again, in all weathers and often alone. School was never closed, even if it snowed, we just went in our wellies and took shoes to change into.

I always loved dolls, doll houses, doll beds, prams and doll clothes. As a toddler, my earliest doll was made of rubber, from which I was told I was inseparable. She was probably very pretty originally but I only remember her in her terminal years as I grew older, by then the poor thing was limp and perished, and her face and fingers gone. She slept with a few other dolls and a teddy bear in a wooden drop-side doll’s cot at the foot of my bed. Mother had made sheets and a pillowcase from an old cotton bed sheet and knitted a multi coloured blanket with second hand wool. Her pram originally belonged to my cousin. It was old fashioned, dark red and quite small. Sadly, I remember, it only had three wheels, I forget what had happened to the fourth, but this was not too much of a problem, it just needed care to keep it balanced when pushing.

Christmas in our house was always special. My brother was twelve years old when I was born so I suppose I was the spoilt little sister. We had lots of Aunts and Uncles, and they always sent or brought lots of presents. I usually had a new doll, sometimes with clothes made or knitted by Mother or Gran. I remember receiving a Rosebud doll with eyes that opened and closed, and brown painted-on hair. I very naughtily chewed her hands, nibbling off all her fingers. I still remember the taste of the plastic. Likewise, the small pink plastic dolls that lived in my Triang doll house, – made of tin with green latticed windows that really opened, – they too were nibbled.

Apart from my dolls, I loved books. In those days we did not have so many and so they were read frequently. Through my books I could escape into an imaginary and pretend world. My favourites were the “Josephine and her Dolls” books written by a Mrs. Cradock, a series of books about a small girl called Josephine and her toys and dolls. I still have several of these books from my childhood, “Josephine’s Pantomime” being my special favourite. The dolls and toys in these books seemed to talk to Josephine, joining in her games. They lived in the “nursery” and played together when Josephine was asleep. I would creep into my bedroom very quietly, believing I would catch my dolls at play, or at least hoping to find that they had moved from where I had left them, but I never did.

When I was eleven years old, I outgrew the village school and went to the girls’ grammar school at Ware. This was an amazing place where we learned French and Latin and we had cooking lessons and also learned to sew. The first thing we made was a cookery apron. I found this very boring and was a very slow sewer. I remember the teacher finally congratulating me on completing the apron with some beautiful stitching. I did not tell her I had taken it home and my Mother had finished it. However I loved it when the following year we made a stuffed doll complete with clothes.

I don’t know what happened to my childhood dolls when I left home and married, but I think I may have passed my love of dolls on to our two daughters, our son preferring Action Man. The girls had the usual, nappy wetting Tiny Tears, Cabbage Patch and similar dolls, but it was when Penny, our eldest came home from her prep. school stating that the other girls, in fact “everyone” but her, had Sasha dolls. I had not heard of Sasha but not wishing to have a deprived child we all went to Osbornes in Oxford to buy a brunette gingham for her birthday. I was amazed at the price, costing a whole week’s housekeeping, needless to say Sasha was her only present. Later that year at Christmas she received a Baby nightdress. My Mother knitted jumpers and cardis and made tartan kilts and cotton dresses for Sasha, which Penny still has. It was not until 2012 that she told me that not “everyone” in her class had a Sasha doll, in fact there was only one girl who owned one, and she was the daughter of Lord Saye and Sele and lived at Broughton Castle! When daughter Hannah arrived she was given a black baby Sasha by her Aunt, who had also bought Sashas for her girls. This baby, the only Sasha in our family with a name is called Cola, She was much loved and even went to the beach with us where she was often carried in a pail full of sea water but lived to tell the tale and is still in perfect condition, despite a hard life.

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(Above Dawn and Tim on their wedding day)

When daughter Penny married, I reluctantly said goodbye to her Sasha dolls. I had looked after them as she outgrew them, washing their hair, making sure they kept their original clothes and shoes, etc. but I felt she should have them. One day in Smiths Newsagents I saw and bought a doll magazine. There was a small sales ad. at the back for three Sasha dolls. I telephoned to ask the prices, to be told that the magazine was a month old and the dolls were sold on the first day, but as the buyer had never sent the payment I could buy them. They were an early brunette blue gingham Sasha with Prim snap navy shoes, nearly mint in her tube, her early Gregor Jeans brother, also in his tube and a blonde baby in her cradle. The lady told me she was selling them as she was down -sizing and had bought them just before the birth of her first child, hoping for a girl. The baby was a boy and she went on to have four more boys, so the dolls were hardly used.

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( Dawns Children Penny and Fraser)

This was the beginning of my Sasha collection. In 2000 I saw a small advert in the Doll magazine for a Sasha festival in Huddersfield. I knew very little about the history of Sasha dolls so decided to attend and hopefully find out more. I knew no one, but the first person that greeted me was Jackie Kraemer. What a wonderful weekend, it was here that I first saw a Studio doll. Wow! I thought, this is something else!, and Marie Morgan helped me onto the Studio doll slippery slope, so I blame her and my daughter Penny for my addiction.

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(Above a couple of Dawn’s dress a sasha doll entries)

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(Above two of dawns beautiful studio Bebe’s)

I acquired so many Sashas that Tim, my husband, made me a doll room above his workshop where they can live along with my Stupsi dolls, Fisher Price early play sets and Sylvanian Families collection. People often ask him how many dolls I have. His answer is ‘too many’.
I would be interested to know what part of my childhood may be responsible for my collection of Sasha sized prams. Maybe I do have a problem? Could it be that pram I had as a small girl with only three wheels?

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(Above dawns fabulous pram collection)

Now some of you may or may not know that Dawn held one of her wonderful lunches recently, a great time was had by all whome attended and it gave me a chance to ask dawn some more questions for her profile.Dawn is a very modest lady and being one never to blow her own trumpet so to speak, so i will do it for her.

Dawn is quite the artist and whilst at her home i spied some of her fantastic art work.

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(Above are 3 painting by Dawn, they show parts of her home and are beautifully done.)

Inside dawns home I spied some moreof her unique artwork above the arches inside her home.

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Dawns home is wonderful and i am going to leave part one there, so i will seee you in part 2…..

Hi Everyone here is the fifth profile in the from Childhood to Sasha series.
So without further ado i give you the wonderful Ted Menten.

Discovering Sasha

by Ted Menten

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(Above a photo of Ted Menten)

Someone once said that if you are going to tell a story it is best to start at the beginning.
I was born in 1932 and grew up in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. I lived with my parents and my grandmother, Nana Laura. My parents were both stunt pilots in a flying circus and my mother was a wing-walker.My father collected scale model railroad trains, mother collected miniature porcelain cats, and Nana Laura collected Steiff teddy bears and Madame Alexander dolls. I collected comic books.

Every Saturday my grandmother and I would board the Fifth Avenue double-decker bus and travel uptown to 59th street and the fabulous FAO Schwarz toy store. My grandmother was a popular customer and the salesgirls catered to her every whim. She had an adoption “process” that consisted of lining up the same bear or doll and staring intently into their slightly different faces until one “spoke” to her. Then, with an air of triumph, she would announce, “This is the one!” Then the doll or bear joined us for tea and pastries at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel across the street from FAO Schwarz. Years later I often loaned her Alexander doll collection to Schwarz to display when Madame Alexander made an appearance.
That is the beginning of the story.

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(Above a photo of “The Good Eggs” a toy created by Ted)

In the late 1960s I was a successful industrial designer with a thriving business and many interesting clients. Every night, after a long day of presentations, I would walk home and every night I would pass a small toy store with a bright green front. It was called “DollsanDreams” and was owned by a married couple from Switzerland named Yvonne and Bruno.
One night I noticed that the window display featured a group of dolls playing together and I was intrigued by their realistic poses. They seemed like real children at play. For the next few nights I would stop and study them because they were so different from the dolls my grandmother collected. These were children in simple outfits playing together. Not at all like the Alexander dolls in their fabulous gowns. On the following Saturday I went to the shop and asked Yvonne about the dolls in the window. Hours later, I left with a brunette Gregor who looked like my son, Adam. My Saturday visits became more and more frequent and the first Gregor was soon joined by several brothers and sisters. I met Yvonne’s young children and enjoyed watching the local children discover the Sasha dolls.

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(Above one of Ted’s original Sasha Dolls)

And, I followed in my Nana Laura’s footsteps and often lined up several Sasha dolls and peered into their faces until one spoke to me. Back then their faces were hand-painted and quite varied.
I created various window displays for the shop featuring Sasha dolls. I even built a giant tree house for them.

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(Above Ted’s tree house)

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(Above are two photos, the first one shows Sasha having a party and the second is aptly named the triplets)

Eventually I photographed the shop’s toys, including Sasha, for their catalog. My six year old red haired daughter, Alexandra, did her first modeling job for the catalog — posing with a redhead Sasha doll.

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(Above Ted’s daughter Alexandra)

Eventually, I got to go down into the shop basement where dozens of Trendon tubes lined the shelves and where I carefully selected more and more Sashas to come and live with my already overflowing family of Sashas.
Eventually I became a feature writer for DOLLS magazine and did a picture story about Sasha. I even had a little gallery show of my black and white photographs of my Sashas.

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(Above is a photo of Ted’s favourite wide faced blonde Sasha doll)

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(Above is a photo of Ted’s favourite wide faced brunette Sasha doll)

Over the years Sashas have never lost their charm — even when their face paint oxidizes and their hair falls out. They are unique among dolls and a real work of art.

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(Above a photo of Ted’s Sasha dolls from his Gallery show)

By the mid 1970s I had also become a doll and toy designer as well as a book and magazine writer. In the 1980s I turned to the world of Teddy Bears and taught bear making around the world. It was always a joy to come home to my familiar family of Sasha dolls.

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(Above is the cover of one of Ted’s many books he has written on bear making)

They say that first love is the sweetest. And that is true of my love for Sasha.

(I would like to thank Ted for telling us his story. It is also nice to have a man’s point of view on Sasha dolls too.
If you ever get the chance to make one of Ted’s Snappy Critters, i highly recommend it, they are great fun.)

Hi Everyone profile number 4 is from the lovely Dorisanne Osbourn.

My name is Dorisanne Weimert Osborn and I was born in Buffalo, New York on March 1, 1930. Yes, that was 85 years ago! I was a child of the Great Depression.

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(Above Photo taken by Francine Briggs at the 2008 Sasha Festival)

My Family:

I was born into an old German family which had lived in Buffalo since the early 1800s. My great great grandparents had a farm in South Buffalo; my great grandparents owned the “Weimert Tavern”, a “bed and breakfast” on the Old Post Road; and my grandfather was a grocer in Buffalo. My father graduated from Syracuse University as an electrical engineer and worked for the General Electric Company for 50 years. During the Depression years he used a portion of his salary to keep his assistants in their jobs.

My mother was born in northern New York state, near the Canadian border. My maternal grandfather, a farmer and blacksmith, was of English-Irish descent and my maternal grandmother (Dora Anna MacDonald, for whom I was named) was of Scotch and French descent. She passed away the summer before my birth, but I must have inherited my love of reading, sewing and quilting from her as my daughters and I all have her lovely quilts to enjoy in our homes today. My parents had lost a son and twin baby daughters prior to my birth and I grew up as an only child, surrounded by many cousins, aunts and uncles. We were rich in love, if not rich in money.

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(Above My Cousins—I am the youngest and in the front row with my dog and doll.)

In September 1950, 65 years ago, my family expanded when I married Charlie Osborn. I had met him first in 1942, right here on the campus of Keuka College when we attended a summer church conference, as he was the brother of a friend of mine. Seven years later, when I was a college student and he was doing graduate work at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, we began to date. We lived in Rochester, NY for 2 years while he completed his degree and I worked as a church secretary. In 1953, we were commissioned as American Baptist missionaries to work with native Americans in Oklahoma. I taught crafts and cooking while Charlie was the Director of the Anadarko Christian Centre, a recreational and educational centre. Our first two daughters, Anne Elizabeth and Jeanne Catherine, were born in Oklahoma and they adapted to “Indian ways” by sleeping in grocery cartons under the church pews, camping in tents, and playing on the wide open plains.

In the fall of 1958, we returned to the north-eastern part of the United States so Charlie could pursue his master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. Our third daughter, Carol Rebecca, as born in 1959 in the steel town of Braddock, PA. We lived in an apartment over a Kosher meat market which was soon destined to be demolished for urban renewal. We then moved to Edgewood, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, where we lived for the next 25 years, and remodelled an old home built in 1850. This is where our children grew up and where we established our family home.

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(Above Our family circa 1960)

My Education:

I started kindergarten at age 4 and began first grade at age 5 in a small neighbourhood school—”21 annex”. There were grades K through 4 in this small wooden school, two grades per classroom. I walked back and forth to school daily. For grades 5 through 8, I went to a larger area school, walking over a mile each way, and when I was 13, I entered Bennett High School, a large city school. I often walked the 4 miles each way, and sometimes took the trolley to school. During my four years in high school, I was in the scholarship track, where I took four years of math, four years of science courses, five years of foreign languages (Latin and German), plus the usual four years of history and five years of language arts, and I was a member of the Legion of Honor. My elementary and high school years were during World War II, and I collected scrap metal, grew a victory garden, learned to fingerprint my classmates and identify aircraft, sewed my own clothes, used rationing stamps and bought war bonds. Growing up during the Great Depression and the war years shaped my early years and taught me life lessons that have served me well.

In 1947, I entered Keuka College, a small college for women in Keuka Park, NY on beautiful Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. I was now 125 miles from home and travelled back to Buffalo twice a year. I majored in Religion and minored in Italian Renaissance Art for three years and added a major in Social Studies Education my senior year. I lived at Strong Hall, the cooperative dormitory north of the campus, where students did all of the cooking and cleaning. I have served as the President of the Class of 1951 for over 25 years and keep in touch with my classmates and encourage them to support the college.

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(Above Keuka College)

Many years later in 1964, when our daughters were in school, I completed my Master’s Degree in Education of the Hearing Handicapped, followed by a second master’s degree in Learning Problems, both at the University of Pittsburgh. With the intention of developing a curriculum for multiply handicapped children, I entered the doctoral program in Curriculum and Supervision at Pitt, and soon became a doctoral assistant while completing my coursework, and taught graduate courses. This led me in unanticipated directions.

My Career:

My first professional job as an educator was as an elementary geography teacher for grades 4 through 6, and as a 4th grade homeroom teacher. I received a scholarship to study for my master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh and was hired as a teacher at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf where I taught for 20 years (and walked back and forth to work each day). I continued to receive scholarships at Pitt and studied there until 1979 when I accepted an offer to join the faculty at my undergraduate Alma Mater, Keuka College. They, along with Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, planned to start a new major in Special Education and I developed and coordinated the undergraduate program. I bought a house in Keuka Park, on Keuka Lake, on the north side of the campus, right next to Strong Hall where I had lived almost 30 years before as a student.

The Dolls in my Life:

Dolls have always been a special part of my life. Wherever I went, my dolls and paper dolls went with me. I was an only child and they were my best friends. At Christmas time, there was usually a doll for me under the tree, but often it was the doll from previous holidays with new clothes made by my mother. When I was 8 years old, I saw a McGuffey Ana doll in a down town department store’s Christmas display. She was in a large suitcase along with her wardrobe of nightgown and robe, coat and hat, and fancy dress. I wanted her more than anything in my life, and on Christmas morning I cried when I saw the suitcase beneath the tree and I cried tears of joy all day, whenever I saw her. I wonder how many simple suppers we ate or how many made over dresses I wore for my parents to be able to buy this dream for me.

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(Above My doll went boating with me on Georgian Bay.)

My father had finished our basement with beaver board walls for a laundry room for Mother, a workshop for Dad and a playroom for me. Neighbourhood and school friends were drawn to the playroom and brought their dolls over to play. We spent long hours playing “house” and “school” and “dress-ups”. We created clothes and toys for our dolls. When I went to high school I safely stored my dolls, their clothes and furniture, and my paper dolls in the closet in my bedroom and occasionally played with them in secret. When I left for college, I bid them “good-bye” and told them I would return.

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(Above My cousin “Little Jane” and I took our dolls everywhere.)

While I was away, my “generous” mother gave everything away to children who “had less than I did”. I was devastated. Our three daughters arrived during the 1950s and I was delighted that there was doll play in our home again. I sewed tiny dresses, quilts for beds, and knitted little sweaters and hats. By the time our three granddaughters and one grandson arrived in the 1980s and 1990s , Sasha dolls were a part of my life and I gave each grandchild a Sasha baby for third birthdays and a 16 inch Sasha for fifth birthdays. I also gave each of my daughters a Sasha doll for their very own. I began sewing and knitting for all of the Sasha dolls and I was thrilled when my daughters and grandchildren began attending Sasha Festivals with us.

My life with Sasha:

It was while I was teaching at the School for the Deaf that I discovered Sasha Dolls in the Creative Playthings catalogue. They were the dolls I had dreamed of having during childhood. I was an adult now and our three daughters were no longer playing with dolls; but I was hooked. I devised ways of using dolls in my language and social studies lessons and bought a Sasha for my classroom—then a Gregor. To teach diversity, Cora and Caleb joined the neighbourhood and of course, Sasha Babies followed. My Sasha family joined me as I taught graduate class at Pitt. When we moved from Pittsburgh to Keuka Park, I left the well played with doll family in my classroom. I still did not know that adults played with dolls.

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(Above Creative Playthings catalogue)

When I began teaching future special education teachers at Keuka College I realized that dolls would have to be a part of my teaching tools again so I found catalogue and local sources and bought the School Girl and School Boy—for starters. When I was using Sasha dolls in my classrooms, I looked unsuccessfully for clothing patterns so I could vary the dolls’ persona’s. Finally I wrote to the Stockport address in the UK which I found on a catalogue. When I received an reply, a whole new world opened for me. I found that doll collectors created clothing patterns, and that there was a newsletter for people who had Sasha dolls and that adults played with dolls. When Charlie and I went to our first Sasha Festival in New England I met wonderful people who became good friends. We exchanged letters and phone calls and began to compare dolls, ask questions and do research about the history of these wonderful dolls. I began to realize that I was not a “collector’’, but an educator. I wanted to learn all that I could, and I wanted to share my new knowledge with others.

I was fortunate to live near the US office of Goetz Puppenfabrik, the original producers of the manufactured Sasha dolls (1954-1970). Whenever I heard that Franz or Marianne Goetz would be at a doll show or a doll shop nearby I went to talk with them and ask them many questions about their early production. They were pleased to find someone who appreciated their work with Sasha Morgenthaler and their early efforts and were very generous with information. I wrote articles and shared them with the Sasha Doll Collectors’ Newsletter.

By 1988, the original newsletter was discontinued after the English production of Sasha dolls ended. Subscribers encouraged me to begin a newsletter. In January 1989 the international newsletter Friends of Sasha was launched and for the next seventeen years it took over my life as I met quarterly deadlines, collated, punched, folded, stuffed, addressed, stamped and mailed 250 to 750 issues four times a year. My research continued and I wrote many articles, took photos and corresponded with my subscribers. Fall of 1988 found us in Switzerland visiting Puppenmuseum Sasha Morgenthaler in Zuerich and we met Laura Knuesli and her family for the first time. Laura was to play a significant place in the success of Friends of Sasha with her wealth of knowledge about Sasha Morgenthaler and Swiss toys. Laura contributed many of her “Swiss Vignettes” to the newsletter and opened our eyes to the production, marketing, development, and exhibitions of Sasha’s Studio Dolls. Heddy Frick, a Swiss collector of Sasha Studio Dolls, also came into our lives on that trip and her letters and counsel over the years added much to my knowledge base. I decided on a format which would include a clothing pattern and an article on Sasha Doll history and identification in every issue. Through the “Sasha Dolls Through the Years” section every manufactured doll ever produced in Germany or England was photographed and described in depth. The patterns in each issue provided styles for Sasha, Gregor, babies and toddlers, and also all of the Migros patterns were added. Over the years many subscribers made worthy contributions to Friends of Sasha with their patterns, paper dolls, photos, stories and reports of regional activities. As I learned more about Sasha dolls, I was able to share more. I realized that I was still an educator as I shared the history of our dolls.

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(Above Friends of Sasha)

Being editor and publisher of Friends of Sasha opened many doors and requests came my way to be more involved. Over the years I have attended and often participated in 25 Sasha Festivals. Recently, to refresh my memory I read through all 68 issues of Friends of Sasha and subsequent issues of Sasha Friends, and was amazed to find out that I put on 15 programs at Festivals, participated in more than 20 Dress-a-Sasha contests, and contributed to over a dozen Festival Journals. Friends of Sasha sponsored the Sasha Doll Forums at fourteen Festivals as we looked closely at a selected manufactured doll or focused on a topic of interest. The newsletter also sponsored the Sasha Doll Forum and paper doll contests based on the Festival theme and provided prizes to the winners.

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(Above Glenn Curtiss, the pioneer aviator, built his planes on Keuka Lake and he was my entry in the 2009 Dress-a-Sasha contest)

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(Above Dress-a-Sasha scenes from a NYS Sasha Fun Day. The theme was celebrating the 120th anniversary of Sasha Morgenthaler’s birth and
Birthday Party’s was the theme for the contest.)

I enjoyed sharing and educating through exhibits of the manufactured and Studio Sasha Dolls. I participated in the Special Exhibit, “Sasha for all Seasons”, at the 1989 national convention of the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC). My contributions were the 1915 school room and playground in the Autumn setting, adding several dolls to the line-up of manufactured dolls, and sharing in the presentation of the Studio Dolls. I curated exhibits, with help from friends, at several Festivals and helped with others. In 1993 we put together an exhibit of Studio Dolls in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sasha Morgenthaler. At the 1995 Festival, an exhibit of the early production of Sasha Dolls by Goetz Puppenfabrik welcomed the new production of the German Sasha Dolls. In 1998, all of the later Goetz Sashas produced to date were in an exhibit. When the 2009 Sasha Festival was being planned for the Rochester, NY area, I was thrilled and offered to curate an exhibit of Studio Dolls for the Sunday morning Brunch. I contacted owners of Studio Dolls who were coming to the Festival and asked “The Three Anns” to help. The resulting exhibit was beyond our wildest dreams as almost 50 dolls provided the viewers with the many examples of Sasha Morgenthaler’s art. My swan song for exhibits was at the 2011 Sasha Festival when over 80 miniature quilts were brought together, many made by the owners and others won in the festival auctions.

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(Above Francine Briggs took dozens of photos of the Studio Doll Exhibit at the 2009 Festival Brunch)

I’ve enjoyed participating and sharing in the wonderful Sasha Festivals over the years, but 1991 was the year that it was our time to host a Sasha Festival. The early festivals were put on for a day or day and a half with participants coming from all over the United States for a program, Dress-a-Sasha contest, auction and sales room. When we went to the early festivals I came away wanting more time with friends and events, so in 1991, with the help of my husband and two of our daughters, and many Sasha friends, we decided to have a week long festival on the campus of Keuka College.

The events from Monday evening though Friday afternoon were optional and festival goers joined us throughout the week with about 30 coming for the whole week. Daytime was for workshops. The Marcy Street Sasha house was built in our garage, while a furniture workshop was held on the roof of our boathouse. Children had their own workshops while adults spent a day learning the art of smocking. Cross-stitch tee shirts were produced, oriental carp banners were made and tiny soft sculptured Japanese dolls were created, carrying out the theme of “Children of all the World”. In the evenings everyone gathered together in the dormitory lounge for Show and Tell programs on miniature quilts, hats and hair styles, and shoe making. On Friday, 40 people headed for the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum in Rochester, NY and toured the doll and toy collections. The people who stayed behind were hanging and labelling an exhibit of 50 framed posters and photos of Studio Dolls in the library’s Art Gallery, setting up tables and pedestals for the forthcoming Dress-a-Sasha contest, recreating the summer and fall scenes from the 1989 UFDC exhibits and the workshop projects. Hundreds of Sasha Dolls in original outfits were placed in chronological order, covering about 100 feet of glass shelves in the library. A Sasha Wonderland was ready for Saturday morning when the exhibits and the contest entries were enjoyed. Laura Knuesli presented two slide programs on “Impressions of Sasha Morgenthaler” and following the luncheon the Sasha Doll Fashion Show was held with 63 Sashas in clothing created by “designers” from around the world showing their special fashions. The first Sasha Festival souvenir outfit was unveiled at the luncheon.

The first Children’s Fund Auction—a silent auction—was held during the sales room. In the evening, everyone gathered in the library, surrounded by the 250 Sasha dolls in the “Sasha Dolls Through the Years” exhibit, for the Sasha Doll Forum. Brenda Walton was the resource leader and told of her years working at the Sasha Factory in England. The Forum was followed by a party celebrating the 700th birthday of Switzerland with a big Swiss flag, and the three cakes decorated like Swiss flags were cut by our three guests from Switzerland. On Sunday morning, following the Brunch, a whimsical presentation “Cooking for Sasha” was presented by our daughter Anne, with tiny pastries for all. Our marathon festival accomplished its goal of expanding all future festivals to at least three days, giving an opportunity to develop many more friendships. Over the years I have enjoyed contributing to every Children’s Fund Auction. The year after Laura Knuesli and I had the first Children’s Fund Auction with the proceeds going to children’s charities worldwide, the 1992 Sasha Festival combined the CFA and the Fashion Show ideas into the format which has continued ever since.

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(Above I enjoyed being the auctioneer at the 2009 Sasha Festival and gathering over 100 donations. Photo by F. Briggs)

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(Above One of my annual donations to the Children’s Fund Auction. I donated Baby Lilac and her trunk and my Aggie friends added many accessories.)

Sasha Fun Days have been a great addition to our Sasha Year. These regional gatherings are mini Festivals and give us a chance to meet Sasha Doll collectors nearby. It was fun to write articles about Sasha Fun Days in Arizona, Washington and Oregon, California, New England, Florida, Minnesota and New York State even though they were far away. These day long events follow the Sasha Festival format with a Dress-a-Sasha contest, souvenirs, workshops, Children’s Fund Auctions and sales rooms. We hosted the first New York State Sasha Day in 1988 at our home and have had several events here since then. Many close friendships have begun at these smaller gatherings and wet our appetites to attend the International Sasha Festivals. Our NYS Sasha group hosted the 2009 Sasha Festival and are now planning to welcome the 2016 Sasha Festival.

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(Above A New York Sasha Day gathering)

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(Above An article I wrote for Doll Reader (February 2005 pp. 24-29)

Over the years I have written numerous articles for magazines such as DOLLS, Doll Castle News, Contemporary Doll Collector, Doll World and Doll Reader. Theriault’s Doll Auctions contacted me many times to help them document Sasha Morgenthaler’s Studio Dolls and the manufactured dolls as they came up for auction. In 1998 they asked me to present a seminar prior to one of their auctions. While there I was asked “Why haven’t you written a book for us on Sasha Dolls?” And there began work on Sasha Dolls Through the Years which was published in 1999 in both soft cover and hard cover editions. Both editions are now out of print, but a few soft cover editions are still available from the author. My years of research for Friends of Sasha held me in good stead as I laid out the proposed book. We had already planned to go Florida in March 1999 to visit our youngest daughter and her family. I packed up dolls and ephemera and we headed for the Theriault offices in Annapolis, Maryland. Each doll was tagged and numbered, ready to be photographed by their staff photographer. After a week setting up scenes to be photographed, we took the near-by auto train to Florida. I worked on the text and captions for photos each day while we were in Florida and when we left for the Sasha Fun Day in Tallahassee my rough copy was ready. By the end of the month we were back in Annapolis, where I laid out the book using the wonderful photos which were waiting. After a week of steady work, the Sasha Dolls were packed into our car and we returned home. For several months, I was in contact, by phone and email, with the Theriault staff as I edited various copies. By the fall of 1999, Sasha Dolls Through the Years had come back from the printers in Hong Kong. 1999 was a great year for Sasha Dolls as three books were published: Sasha Dolls by Michael O’Brien in England; Sasha Puppen published by Benteli Press in Switzerland; and Sasha Dolls Through the Years in the United States.

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(Above Sasha Dolls Through the Years)
I was asked to tell about my favourite Sasha Dolls, and this would be as difficult as to name your favourite child or grandchild. I can tell about the Sasha Doll which came to me in a very special way. In 1993, Laura Knuesli suggested that we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Sasha Morgenthaler with a gathering In Zuerich and Bern, Switzerland. We planned our visit so that we could be there on November 30th, the day of her birth. Six people were invited to participate in a week long session in Sasha’s altelier in Hongg, a suburb of Zuerich, where Sasha had created her dolls several decades earlier. We each made two “course dolls” under the tutelage of Trudi Loeffler, Sasha’s long time assistant. The dolls were the 20” Type A1 dolls with cloth rag-doll bodies and cloth covered molded gypsum heads, with a choice of human hair wigs or hemp hair. The following week we were joined by some American and European Sasha friends and we toured special exhibits at the Puppenmuseum Sasha Morgenthaler, Zuercher Spielzeug Museum and then we spent November 30th in Bern, visiting the home in which Sasha was born and grew up. A luncheon with Sasha’s son, Nicklaus Morgenthaler, visits in several homes of Sasha doll collectors, and a tour of the Lindt and Sprungli Chocolate factory added to the wonders of this anniversary trip.

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(Above This is the “course doll” which I made in Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier in Switzerland, my dolls outfit was made by Ruth Hartley))

When I first discovered Sasha Dolls in a catalogue, I had no idea how meaningful they would be in my life. At first they were a teaching tool and a longed-for special doll. Then they challenged my curiosity about their creator and history. I was privileged to share what I learned through the newsletter Friends of Sasha, the book Sasha Dolls Through the Years and through magazine articles, exhibits and programs. I enjoyed the role of educator as well as learner, but I received so much more than I gave through my adventure with Sasha Morgenthaler and her dolls. My life is richer because of my travels around the United States and trips to Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Most of all the friendships made, which continue to this day, have blessed my life.

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(Above The high point of each Sasha Festival is being with special friends.)

Epilogue:
Where are we now?

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(Above Charlie and Dorisanne (Photo by Carmen Murphy at a NYS Sasha Day)

y family has supported and encouraged me on this Sasha trip. Charlie travelled to Sasha Festivals with me until 2000, unpacking the car, helping to set up exhibits and sales tables, making props and making friends. At 91, he now has Alzheimer’s but continues to enjoy our home on the lake. I no longer am able to attend all of the Sasha Festivals but I participate in the Children’s Fund Auction, contribute to Festival Journals, and I go to our annual NYS Sasha Days in the Rochester area. I continue to sew and knit for my dolls and find the little Sasha settings around our home to be enjoyable and relaxing.

Our daughters are busy young women and do not live close enough to us to visit often. Anne and John live in the Adirondack Mountains where Anne is a professor at Paul Smith’s College and she has a French restaurant in Saranac Lake which provides a living classroom for her students. Our granddaughter, Elizabeth (Ema) graduated from Boston University as a biologist. Three years ago she taught in South Korea for a year and visited Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and India on her way home. For the past two years she has been teaching Biology and training teachers in Shanghai, China and soon will come home via Indonesia and Australia. This fall she will begin her graduate work in epidemiology at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Many of you will remember Anne and Ema from past Festivals.

Jeanne has accompanied me to several recent Festivals and NYS Sasha Days. She has been a widow for 9 years and works as activity director for a senior community in Connecticut after 27 years as an administrator at Fairfield University. Our only grandson, Christopher, is a senior at James Madison University in Virginia, majoring in hospital administration. He attended his first Sasha Festival in 1993, at six months of age, in New Jersey and also attended Festivals in Virginia, Iowa and Massachusetts.

Carol and Eric have lived in Florida for 30 years which means that they and their daughters have not been able to be a part of most of our Sasha activities. Carol is a librarian and Eric is a lawyer in Hobe Sound, and Carol was able to join me for the Festival in Florida in 2004. Rachel (who introduced us to the word “philtrum” long ago) graduated from Butler University and remained in Indianapolis, IN. She is busy with her work, owns her own home, and recently became engaged. Sarah went to Stetson University in Florida and now works in Oregon. Carol and Sarah joined us for a Sasha Fun Day in Tallahassee many years ago.

our family

(Above Our family in 1975)

Life is good and has been made better because of our family and many Sasha friends.

Thank you Dorisanne for your wonderful life story. Once again everyone please do not copy any of the photos in this profile without permission from Dorisanne Osbourn.

Hi Everyone here is the final part of Anne Votaws profile.

After the initial UFDC exhibit, versions of the Sasha for All Seasons exhibit were repeated at least four times in different venues. Eight months later three of us set up the display in the Toy and Miniature Museum.

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(Above Because the owner of Hallmark Cards and her friend delighted in our Sasha exhibit at the 1989 UFDC convention, they invited us to set up the exhibit in their Toy and Miniature Museum, Kansas City, for a three-month run.)

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(Above A local member of the national VFW liked the exhibit so well, he asked if the above doll could be used for the cover of the organization’s June magazine. A nice article about the exhibit was included.)

Because the space given for the set up continued to expand, finally including a few connected rooms and halls, many extra displays had to be planned at nearly the last moment, making execution of the display frustrating and spontaneous and very interesting. How we managed it with relative tranquillity I’ll never know. I’m sure the museum owners who were with us most of the time wondered if there would be an exhibit when the museum opened Monday morning, but it was beautiful and everyone was very pleased with the end result.

In 1999 my friend and fellow collector Kay Cassedy and I set up a loose version of the UFDC special exhibit as a Sasha doll house Christmas scene, which was part of a much larger Christmas doll display, including from antique to modern. For it, we pooled our two collections and borrowed a few more from our doll club members. The Floyd County Museum in Indiana gave us the lobby and two adjoining, large rooms. We took apart my Sasha doll house, which is modular, and gathered together all of my Christmas accessories,
furniture, Sasha dolls, and outfits. Kay’s teenage daughter Helen was turned loose to set up and decorate the house. Kay and I stipulated only that the kitchen be for Hanukah, the living room for Christmas preparations, and the bedroom for early Christmas morning. We also wanted the doll house to reflect the three prevalent ethnic groups — White, Black, and Jewish — represented by the local population. In the lobby, a giant Christmas tree reached from the floor of the lobby to the mezzanine ceiling, and from its boughs we hung baby Sasha angels with attached golden wings and dressed in white robes.

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(Above My modular Sasha doll house Christmas display was part of a larger 1999 holiday doll exhibit in Indiana.)

Although I was involved until around 2011 with putting up, helping to set up, or designing a number of Sasha exhibits in museums, at events, and for Sasha Festivals, at least, three stand out as special. In 1994, three of us Sasha collecting friends set up a massive Sasha retrospective at the “First Annual Doll and Teddy Bear Expo, in Arlington, Virginia.

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(AboveA Sasha Retrospective entitled, Sasha Doll: The Jewel of Twentieth-Century Dollmaking, was designed by me, with terrific assistance from Ann L. Chandler and Kay Cassedy in 1994.)

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(Above Left to right: Anne Votaw, Kay Cassedy, Ann L. Chandler)

Kay Cassedy and I flew from Cincinnati two days following the U.S. wedding reception for my daughter Ellen and her husband Toshiya Motohashi. They had married in Tokyo four months earlier in a Shinto ceremony.

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(Above My daughter was a Shinto bride, dressed in the traditional ceremonial attire. Her betrothal to Toshi was the first unarranged marriage in the Motohashi family.)

In 2001 when the Sasha Festival was held in Seattle, Ann, Susanna, and I invited festival attendees who owned one or more Studio Sasha’s to bring them for a weekend Sasha display, held at the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art in Bellevue, Washington. The exhibit area was a tiny room with a large platform and a protective plate glass window, facing the lobby. It was the perfect place to stage an exhibit, albeit quite crowded and hot for us who were positioning the dolls on the shelf

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(Above Left to right: Ann L. Chandler, Susanna E. Lewis, Anne Votaw are preparing Studio Sasha dolls for display in the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art lobby in conjunction with the 2001 Sasha Festival, held in Seattle.)

*(Note to Sasha collectors who attended the 2001 Sasha Festival: I have no acceptable pictures of this exhibit and would love to have high resolution or real clear jpeg copies of any you might have in your files. If you would like to share with me, please send to avotaw@cinci.rr.com . Thanks, Anne)

My third favourite exhibit was the 2011 Sasha Festival display for the début of the first book, Sasha Dolls: The History, in a three-volume set, was one of best exhibits from my perspective, if for no other reason than it marked a milestone. For twenty-four years, publication of a comprehensive Sasha book had often seemed a pipe dream to Ann Chandler and me, so what the exhibit may have lacked in pizzazz, it gained in celebration. The goal of the exhibit design was to show how Sasha Morgenthaler’s concepts, as demonstrated by the Studio dolls, unified the many variations of Sasha dolls by imbuing each figure with the classic Sasha look, gained through repetition. Because the classic Studio clothing styles inform all generations of Sasha dolls, I pinned my collection of Studio outfits, which includes earlier to later outfits, onto a foam core board backing. The chronology of the outfits also provided a tangible view of the artist’s development from employment of more diverse patterns, which were embellished by greater handwork, to the more streamlined appearance of Sasha Morgenthaler’s later minimalist style. The exhibit was richer because a number of dedicated Sasha collectors contributed their precious Studio dolls to the display. Ann and Susanna, as well as Cassie Guy and a few others, actively took part in setting up the exhibit. Without the participation by so many, the exhibit would not have had the same impact.

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(Above Sasha Festival 2011 in Sasha Exhibit accompanied the debut of volume one, Sasha Dolls: The History by Anne Votaw. Photo courtesy of Francine Briggs, altered in PhotoShop by Anne.)

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(Above Here I am writing a personal message on Francine Briggs’ book plate, while she took this photograph. Courtesy Francine Briggs.)

In addition to designing and setting up exhibits, I was active in the Sasha community in many other ways. Not only did I help with a number of Sasha Festival, but Kay Cassedy and I also hosted one in Cincinnati, entitled “Riverboat Days,” during the summer of 1998. The heyday for the steam boat, also called a paddle wheel, was just prior to the Civil War, from about 1845 to 1860. For our souvenir journal and festival information ads, we outfitted Sasha and Gregor to represent Mark Twain’s Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer. It was great fun posing them on Cincinnati’s river front for photos.

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(Above This picture of Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer is from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River with the Cincinnati skyline in the background. We staged it using a poster.)

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(Above Becky and Tom watch as the Belle of Louisville glides up to the dock. During the festival, we had Saturday luncheon on board a floating restaurant, which travelled about 6 miles up the Ohio and back, in keeping with our theme and title of Riverboat Days.)

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(Above Here, Tom Sawyer is down on the wharf, waiting to load a barge with cargo, going to St. Louis.)

For the 2001 Sasha Festival in Iowa, I put on ….”drum roll, please” the one and only Sasha Ballet. See these tykes dance as never before.

Having spoken of my undying love of ballet, it’s small wonder that I wanted to choreograph a ballet presentation for my Sasha dolls to perform, and the kids themselves seemed eager. They danced three different pieces — Invitation to the Dance, Cinderella, and a Chopin Waltz—and just as in a live ballet, some in the audience dressed up, programs were passed out, some children and attendees brought their own Sasha ballerinas, lights dimmed, and the music began. Backstage, the dancers were just finishing their warm ups and stretches. Then a single ballerina in a fluffy white tutu slowly glided to center stage. The full program of dance lasted 20 minutes and was composed of approximately 300 or more slides. synchronized to the music. I copied the ballet to CDs which I sold to cover my expenses in putting the program together. Currently, only a few copies remain

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(Above I loved putting together the Sasha Ballet and would very much enjoy producing another. However it took great stamina. For the photography I took multiple shots for each slide and often, one or more dolls would tumble before I gave them their required 5-minute break)

Intermittently, I have participated in Dress-A-Sasha (DAS) competitive exhibits, as well as donated my handmade outfits to the Children’s Fund Auction (CFA). I often am sewing or finishing up part of an outfit while in transit to the event. If I am challenged by a given DAS theme, can visualize a creative solution, and have time and the wherewithal to carry it out, I delight in the execution. Probably my pleasure derived from making Sasha scenes and costumes is an outgrowth of my theatrical experiences.

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(Above These are a few of my favourite Dress-A-Sasha entries: 1. For the 2001 festival in Seattle we were to do a grouping or scene related to the Ocean. I found my creative angle when in Japan for the birth of my youngest grandson, upon learning that Kobe was a sister city to Seattle. Each doll wears an outfit typical of her country, but the fabric is the same, and in essence they echo each other in their different ethnicities. 2. This redhead represents a girl from around 1814 who is singing The Star Spangled Banner. The DAS gave many options but each had to do with the Virginia colonies. 3. I used one room from my modular Sasha doll house for the 1993 festival DAS which celebrated Sasha Morgenthaler’s 100th birthday.)

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(Above Just think, here I am in Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier, making a Course Doll, while sitting among her mannequins, small figurines, and materials. It feels as though she just stepped out of her workroom and will be back shortly.)

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(Above Six happy Americans hold a pair of Course Sasha dolls just finished under the instruction of Trudy Löffler. Left to right: Front row: Trudy Löffler and Sherry Foggan. Back row: Evalyn Stiles, Denise Ortakalas, Dorisanne Osborn, Anne Votaw, and Ann Chandler.)

Illustration 50 above shows my Sasha dolls at the 1993 Sasha Festival in New Jersey, honouring Sasha Morgenthaler’s 100th birthday with a cake and candles. Roughly four months later, fifteen of us from the United States flew to Switzerland in November to celebrate her birthday. Six of us took the Course Doll workshop with Trudy Löffler. We accomplished from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., in four days, what most students took a month to do one afternoon per week. On the last day of class, each of us had finished two dolls. The next week we visited the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum; travelled to Bern to visit the house where Sasha was born; spent the afternoon in a wonderful antique shop where the owner, who both collected and sold Sasha dolls, brought in some amazing ones for us to see; enjoyed an exhibit in Zürich of Sashas, which Laura Knüsli and Heddy Frick set up; went to gatherings at the homes of Sasha collectors; visited the Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate factory, and ate dinner with Niklaus Morgenthaler and his wife at the Vis-à-vis. We had an amazing and wonderful time.

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(Above For the 2006 festival in Phoenix, the theme dealt with our ancestors. Although mine were not Polish, I had lived there and loved the folk costumes. I dress this Lass from Cracow, Poland, in her wedding dress as a donation for the Children’s Fund Auction (CFA). Jean Jensen made her)

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(Above I’ve long been intrigued with the Dennison Crepe Paper era of the 1920s and 1930s, even going so far as to make crepe paper flower dresses for my Bleuette dolls. I also collect antique paper dolls and many of them from this era have crepe paper dresses. This past spring when we had a bumper crop of daffodils in our yard, I decided to create a CFA donation costume out of crepe paper for Sasha, although I thought the medium should be more durable. Therefore, I concocted a paper, muslin, crepe paper, glue material
for the body of my daffodil dress that I trimmed with tulle. I also made metal taps and fastened them to commercial shoes. Many little tap dancers of the Shirley Temple era wore crepe paper recital costumes.)

The 2006 festival in Phoenix marked the end of my participation in Sasha activities for some time because Ann Chandler, Susanna Lewis, and I had just signed our book contract with Reverie. I practically gave up all social interaction during the writing, mainly because there wasn’t time to participate much in other activities while writing a book. There is a reason why writers become hermits: They have to.

My goal in researching and writing Sasha Dolls: The History was to discover and preserve the Sasha Doll story for current and future Sasha collectors. Because many of the principle players, who had a personal acquaintance with Sasha Morgenthaler or had been involved in the Sasha productions and distributions, were elderly, their memories and knowledge needed to be captured while still retrievable. I felt that time was weighted against relevant discovery if the primary research were to be delayed much longer. Besides, from the days of my early childhood, I was a sleuth, an adventurer, and a detective at heart, so it stands to reason I was intrigued by the challenge of piecing together such an interesting puzzle about a doll that keenly attracted me. Sasha Morgenthaler’s myriad of artistic associations, as reflected by the Sasha doll itself, served to whet my curiosity even more.

Originally, the three books, eventuating from the authors’ partnership, were to have been one large comprehensive volume, which included the history, Sasha-inspired creativity, and serie identification… In April 2006 Ann Chandler and I travelled to New York where we linked up with Susanna Lewis for our interview with Reverie Publishing Company, and the three of us signed a contract in May 2006 to write one large book. In December 2009, Reverie reneged on its contract with Ann L. Chandler and Susanna E. Lewis, giving financial reasons for their decision to publish only the historical portion.

From then on, I worked exclusively with the editor on Sasha Dolls: The History. Both she and I were completely frank with each other, sometimes to the point of grumbling unhappiness. She questioned every detail, every nuance, every date, just as a good editor should, but it was nerve wracking, nonetheless. So many times I just wanted to quit, but somehow managed to keep going. Thank goodness for Brenda Walton in times like those. She stood by me when I was going into anaphylactic shock searching out answers to the editor’s questions, and assisted from 1987 clear through to the end in 2011, even peer-reviewing those chapters dealing with the Doggart production.

The editor’s mantra from 2006 to 2010 had been “cut, cut, cut.” Then one day, during our final tweaking and just before Reverie was to send the chapters to the printer in Hong Kong, the editor shot me an email, saying the book was too short by possibly as much as 35 pages. I felt as though I were dealing with Goldilocks, but bit my tongue. This is too long! No, this is too short! Maybe what follows will be just right. What followed was my hurried compilation of the Studio Identification, the last section in the book. I had privately collected information and notes toward this end for a long time, but to write perhaps the most difficult part of the book cogently and in the space of a month revved up my stress level almost to the breaking point. I had to shoot some new pictures, and optimize them in PhotoShop, write the captions in a consistent style, check facts and findings, and so forth. At this point, Susanna and Ann peer-reviewed the manuscript and gave suggestions, which at the very least boosted my sense of confidence.

I persuaded Reverie to include my partners’ names in the authorship for the first book because I felt so awful about their release from the contract. I also asked the publisher to supply the design elements, such as fonts and other publication elements, to Three Anns Publications, so that our subsequent books would appear to go together seamlessly. The three of us worked on writing, editing, and photography on the two books that followed: Sasha Dolls: Clothing and Patterns and Sasha Dolls: Serie Identification; In addition, Susanna did the layout and worked with the printer for the latter two volumes, which Reverie helped to market.

We are still hoping for completion of Ann Louise Chandler’s book on Sasha-inspired creativity, which will be in a different format.

Footnote: Thank you so much Anne for taking the time to create your wonderful profile, it has truly been a joy to read.
Anne has asked that none of the photos in this profile be copied, down loaded or pinned without her permission. Anne holds the copy write to all photos.

Hi Everyone i hope you are enjoying the Easter holidays. Here is the 2nd part of Anne Votaws profile and there is another part yet to come.

Over the next two years I bought many, many more Sasha dolls directly from the distributor’s Sasha manager, keeping many and selling the rest. Mother loaned me the money, which I paid back in due course. Thus, I acquired Princess Sasha, the Hiker, Sari, Wintersport, the previous five limited editions, plus a few of the standard boys, girls, and babies. I also sold an early French Fashion to acquire some of the earlier Frido and first production Götz Sashas.

Since most of my story concerning Sasha has been told in Sasha Dolls: The History (chapter 7) and in the Introduction to Sasha Dolls: Serie Identification, I’m not going to repeat what I’ve already written, but will relate some of the activities that went hand in hand with the first book’s publication.

However, I will put my earliest knowledge of the Sasha doll into perspective. In February 1986, not only had I any idea of the difference between a Götz and a Trendon Sasha, but also I had no idea two companies in two different countries had made Sashas. I also did not know about Studio Sashas, which in those days we referred to as originals. That name had the unfortunate consequence of causing people to call the Sasha serie dolls reproductions, a term that diminished their psychological value. After researching the distinctions made among other doll variations, I decided to refer to those made by Sasha Morgenthaler in her atelier as Studio Sashas, and the name has since entered Sasha terminology, just as has no-nose, fringe, no philtrum or NP, and so forth.

In 1987 a great many of us U.S. Sasha collectors were unaware that Götz and Frido had manufactured Sasha dolls concurrently, to say nothing of the fact that Frido and Trendon were the same company and under the same management. A personal tale demonstrates just how ignorant I was about Sasha initially. In a Swiss doll shop, Ann Chandler introduced me to a pug-nosed Sasha she called a No-Nose. For some reason I don’t remember, I thought the term was spelled No-Knows, until she corrected me. You Sasha collectors today are many light years ahead in your knowledge and identification of Sasha dolls from where I was in 1986 and 1987, and none of us would be nearly as knowledgeable without Brenda Walton’s meticulous notes she took during the Stockport production, or her willingness since to share.

As most Sashaphiles already know, Ann L. Chandler and I had never met in person when we took off on our research trip to England and Switzerland in March 1987. Ann knew so much more than I about Sasha identification and history, then, because she had not only sold Sasha dolls through Marcy Street Doll Company, which she and her cousin owned together, but also she founded the first Sasha newsletter and held the first Sasha Festival.

Before I left from Cincinnati for the flight to Boston, I telephoned Ann to ask, “How will I know you?” Ann replied, “In the same way Sara Doggart recognized arriving guests she hadn’t yet met. We’ll each carry a Sasha.” A few days later, I flew into Boston, from where I caught a shuttle to New Hampshire. Ann met me at the designated stop, flashing me a cheery greeting, and held up her Sasha, named Rachel. I waved back with mine named Ellen. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Almost complete strangers, we left together on an overseas adventure to find out as much as we could about Sasha Morgenthaler and her Sasha doll. Ellen and Rachel went along, of course. Our two Sasha kids were most awe struck by their ancestral trip to Zürich, as were their mothers.

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(Above My photo for my second Sasha article, What Made Sasha a Difficult Doll to Produce, published in Doll Reader June/July 1988. In the magazine, the illustration is in black and white.)

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(Above Ellen and Rachel spy a pretty restaurant in old Zürich, where they can go for lunch on a rainy day.)

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(Above Oh, joy! The rain has stopped and the sun is out. The girls skip along to the museum. “Wait up,” yells Ellen. “Look at these glorious chocolates.” “Ah, a candy shop,” replies Rachel, “filled to the brim with sweet delights for Easter.”)

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(Above A visit to the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum astonishes Rachel who sees how much she looks like her ancestor.)

Shortly after my return from Europe, I wrote of my impressions on having visited the Sasha Morgenthaler Puppenmuseum:

“A visitor to the Sasha Exhibition in the Zürich Residential Museum very much feels the artist’s presence, very much feels the power of her vision, very much feels the living force of her creative energy. The observer is impressed by the existential nature of the artist’s work: Not that one, isolated doll gives this impression, but rather the effect builds as the visitor absorbs the exhibit in its entirety, and the force of the impact is powerful. Suddenly you understand what unifies these diverse children: The artist caught all of them in a moment of change, from their innocent acceptance of the fate decreed upon them by birth to the loss of innocence when they are about to begin creating who they will become.

The variety of the children presented, from the impoverished ragamuffin to the well-dressed child of means, from the dignified native to the streetwise Chicago black, from the robust farm child to the stylishly affected and frail mod swinger–all contribute to the powerful statement the exhibit makes. These are the children of the world, their forms and faces derived from a single gene pool–that of mankind. This unity, then, upon which the multi-faceted variations play, enhances Sasha Morgenthaler’s social statement.”

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(Above The aura of the puppenmuseum not only leaves the Sasha girls speechless, but even more so, their mothers. Niklaus Morgenthaler based the display in the Zürich Residential Museum on a 1970 Parisian exhibition of his mother’s art that Sasha had designed for the Louvre. As visitors move from one display to the next in the museum, the realization that they are witnessing Sasha Morgenthaler’s living artistic genius at work, not only in her wonderful
dolls but also in the layout, the glass cases, the lighting angles, the textured white walls, and the niches where her legacy is displayed, strengthens and is almost reverential.)

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(Above On the way back to the hotel, Rachel and Ellen lean over the Munster Bridge railing to look at their reflections in the Limmat River.)

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(Above The girls can hardly fall asleep that night because they will be visiting Sasha Morgenthaler’s atelier in Höngg tomorrow. The next afternoon, they arrive at the house the Morgenthalers built in 1932, and enter the courtyard. Since no one seems to be around, except for a striped gray cat, the girls squeal with delight before climbing a tree for a peek through the window.)

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(Above An outside stairway leads down the hill to the breezeway. The Sasha girls enter, admire the child-size mannequins, and step through the doorway into the workshop. Inside, Rachel and Ellen meet Laura Knüsli and the Course Doll instructor Frau Löffler. Left to right: Ann L. Chandler, Laura Knüsli, and Trudi Löffler.)

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(Above The girls are most interested to meet three Course Dolls sitting on a table. The Course Dolls seem happy to meet the two Serie Sashas and tell Rachel and Ellen they themselves are samples and help when Frau Löffler is teaching.)

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(Above Sadly, this is the girls’ last night in Switzerland before heading home. Rachel and Ellen look out their hotel window and tell Zurich goodbye. It’s been a wonderful trip.)

Several of us who were privy to a letter and pictures Laura Knüsli sent to Ann Chandler, which she shared with a few of us at the 1987 Sasha Festival, were still so excited by the contents even months later that we could hardly think of anything else. Laura said a Swiss collector was weeding out her collection of Studio Sasha dolls and had asked her to offer them for sale through Ann. I remember three or four of us sitting around Ann’s kitchen table brainstorming how to make enough money to buy one or more. I believe my dear mother loaned me the needed amount for my first Studio Sasha, which at the time I thought could very well be my last. When she arrived in the mail, I gave her my mother’s nickname Binny and not long afterwards drove the hundred miles to my hometown of New Albany where I showed my new B-II and a little Götz waif off to Mom and a couple of her friends.

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(Above Anne Votaw poses with her first Studio Sasha, a B-II, and a little Götz waif, ca. 1987 or 1988.)

Binny has by now become quite famous, appearing in a couple of my articles, my book Sasha Dolls: The History published by Reverie, and one book by Three Anns Publications, plus numerous exhibits.

Following the European research trip, Ann and I attended Sasha Festivals, United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) annual conventions, and later Doll Collectors of America (DCA) annual meetings. Attending the 1988 UFDC convention in Anaheim, California, we studied the special exhibits and decided we could put on one that beat any seen there. Asking the president of the organization for the go-ahead, we immediately started planning. Of course, the idea for the special Sasha exhibit quickly got out of hand, requiring us to pull in other Sasha friends to help out. We picked 1915 as our date for the detailed seasonal scenes, lining three long walls of the exhibit room with the panoramas, entitling the special exhibit, Sasha for All Seasons. Since period clothing was necessary for each of the dolls to act their parts in the scenes, Ann nominated herself to sew all. It was a huge undertaking for her, compounded by the need for a hundred souvenir outfits for the companion Sasha luncheon we hosted. Ann made all of those, too, plaid shirts and denim dungarees.

The first season featured a springtime picnic on a lake where Gregor caught a fish; next, Sasha kids paraded in a summer fourth of July celebration; it was followed by an autumn school room and playground; and finally in the winter scene, Sasha children ice skated on a pond, while nearby two houses represented Hanukah rituals and Christmas preparations. Ann and I did the winter scene; Dorisanne Osborn, the autumn vignette; Cecile St. Gelais, the summer scene; and Joanne Schafer the spring setting. Above the seasonal settings, shelving held a chronological line-up of 1970s Götz Sashas, Frido Sashas, and Trendon Sashas. In the centre of the room, three vitrines held thirteen Studio Sasha dolls, several that the Morgenthaler family loaned, and others owned by four of us five setting up the exhibit, plus a few more from Stephen Miller, who aspired to manufacture the North American Sasha doll.

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(Above Spring Time: by Joanne Schafer, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 United Federation of Doll Collectors (UFDC) Special Exhibit, St. Louis, Missouri: Directed by Ann L. Chandler & Anne Votaw, with Cecile St. Gelais, Dorisanne Osborn, Joanne Schafer, & Stephen Miller (dec.)

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(Above Summer Time: by Cecile St. Gelais part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

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(Autumn: by Dorisanne Osborn, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

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(Above Christmas Kitchen: by Ann Chandler & me, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit. The little blonde girl is looking out the window and waving to her best friend in the Hanukah house who is doing the same.)

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(Above Hanukah Celebration: by Ann Chandler & me, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

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(Above Exhibit of Studio Sasha Dolls: by Stephen Mille, part of Sasha Doll display for 1989 UFDC Special Exhibit.)

Hi Everyone i know you have all been waiting in anticipation
for my next instalment so without further ado, here is the 3rd from Childhood to Sasha, from non other than the lovely Anne Votaw.

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In the waning days of the Great Depression and six months before England declared War on Germany, I, Anne Winslow Parker, was born in Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A., on March 30, 1939. It was a time of great world unrest, as well as personal belt tightening for my family. Before my unlikely appearance on life’s stage, my grandmother told my mother, Virginia McGhee Rice, she didn’t know why anyone would want to bring a child into the world right then. My mother could not have agreed more, but there was nothing she could do about it. I was already on the way.

Some of my mother’s activities and dates before my birth are crystal clear to me, but the immediate two years before I joined the living are vague. Thus, I must tell my mother’s story from her college graduation in 1930 onward, through her brief marriage to my biological father, Raymond Edward Parker. Since he was an unlikely candidate for much of a life on this planet, then, my appearance was also in jeopardy, but somehow we both reached adulthood.

My talented Mother was a budding artist, with a career goal to become her very best. Straight out of college, she landed a position at Dakotah School for Boys, a private Illinois boarding school, where she taught art and English. Combining the two disciplines, she taught the boys how to make marionettes and props, and guided them in writing scripts.

At the end of the school year, Mother had saved enough money to pay her own tuition for a summer art program, given by the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met and became friends with Mrs. Kaye Parker. The Parkers opened her eyes to how the wealthy lived in Chicago, and she was invited to exciting weekend parties, held on the Parker horse farm in LaPorte, Indiana, near the Lake Michigan dunes. Their farm had become an artist colony, where the artists had lodging of some sort. I know the name of one artist who was living there, the now famous miniaturist Eugene Kupjack, noted for his work on the Thorne Rooms. He and Mother became friends and partnered on a couple of money-making projects, but didn’t have the funds for the needed patent.

During Mother’s third teaching year, 1932-1933, the second wave of the depression hit. That summer instead of using her savings to attend the Art Institute, it was more practical for her to find another way of earning cash. She kept her head above water financially by founding her own Pall Mall Marionette Productions. She made the marionettes and many of the props, painted the scenery, and wrote the script. She and her younger sisters who played the violin, clarinet, and piano wrote new lyrics for known scores. My grandmother, an enthusiastic backer of her daughters’ project, asked people who owed their grocery store money to pay off their debts by making the furniture, stage, sets, and rigging the lighting, all of which my mother designed. Mother, age 25, and her two younger sisters, Margaret, age 19, and Elizabeth, age 17, performed Jack and the Beanstalk at the 1933 Chicago World?s Fair on the Enchanted Island, a special pavilion for children.

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(above is a photo of the Pall Mall Marionettes)

That autumn Mother taught at a local public high school on a provisional license, and took summer classes in 1934 to obtain a teaching certificate, which would allow her to earn a full salary of $150 per month. All the while she and her sister Margaret continued to develop their marionette repertoire and give shows. After Margaret enrolled in nurses training in 1936, a cousin stepped in to help and she and Mother took the shows on the road across Indiana and Illinois, performing in many venues, including the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. The Pall Mall productions ended abruptly February 13, 1937, when Mother’s car hit black ice and skidded through a plate glass store front on the return trip after a school performance. Following the sudden and expensive end of the Pall Mall Marionettes, she returned to teaching once again at the local high school.

Around 1937 and/or 1938 when Mother returned to the Art Institute for the summer, many changes had occurred in the Parkers’ lives: Kaye and Ray had divorced. Ray’s foster father, Leonard Parker, had died, and instead of leaving his adopted son the expected fortune, Ray inherited a huge debt. Leonard had been a multi-millionaire, but since some unknown date during the Depression, he had been living on credit. Ray’s lavish life style as a wealthy playboy was over. He had sold the race horses and his Lake Michigan racing yacht named the Wagtail.

Little was ever known about my biological father’s origin, and I’ve not learned much about his childhood either. I know that around the age of four months, he was adopted from a Chicago Orphanage, by a Mr. Leonard Parker, whose older sister was the orphanage nurse. The story goes that upon hearing a knock at the front door, she opened it, coming face-to-face with a group of Gypsies. One beseechingly held out a beautiful baby boy to her, as if asking Miss Parker to take him. The dark-haired Gypsy woman mumbled “Bambino ees seeeek,” and as soon as the nurse took the baby, the Gypsies turned and fled.

For Miss Parker, it was love at first sight. She wanted to adopt the foundling, but since her brother Leonard and his wife had no children, he convinced her otherwise. The Parker’s judged the baby to be about four months old, gave him an arbitrary birth date, and named him. However, because Mr. Parker wanted to know how the blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby happened to be in the care of Gypsies, he hired detectives to investigate, but nothing conclusive was discovered. They speculated the foundling might have been the sole survivor in a passenger train accident, and when the Gypsies were looting the wreckage, they found him.
I believe my father felt keenly displaced his whole life. His foster mother died when he was 11. During his teens, he was kicked out of the private school he attended and was constantly involved in some scrape or other, from which his foster father had to extricate him. Even though Ray studied law and passed the Indiana Bar Exam, he never practised. Mother said he always submitted to a get-rich-quick scheme, instead of working hard to achieve something , anything. Mother said he was irresponsible and drank too much. He told Mother he had come into the world with nothing and would go out with nothing.

I’m afraid I share in some of those feelings of nothingness or partial emptiness because I, likewise, know just half of me. I have no idea of my actual surname any more than did my biological father. I don’t know what genetic diseases I might be at risk for developing. Although my mother’s ancestry is well documented back to the American Revolution and beyond to the British Isles, my paternal heredity is a complete blank.

I have gained only a fragmented idea about my mother and father’s courtship and marriage, or my conception. What I do know I have gained from innuendoes, my Aunt Margaret’s uncertain memories of those events, and a letter my mother wrote me shortly after I was born. When I took high school biology, I began asking questions about Ray, but Mother consistently refused to discuss any of their marital history with me.

In the early 1950s my Uncle J.T., a northern Indiana lawyer married to mother’s youngest sister Elizabeth, whom I called Aunt Libby, ran into my half-sister Barbara, also a non-practising lawyer. When she asked to see me, Mother reluctantly agreed to a visit, but only if Barbara promised she would prevent my seeing Ray. I was 14, idealistic, and very eager to meet him. My mother never did find out about my deception, or that I saw him twice afterwards. The last time we saw each other, I was 19, and my father was so drunk and maudlin he did not even recognize me. Nearly overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of revulsion, I telephoned Mother to tell her I was cutting my visit short and coming home would be on the next train south, scheduled to pull out of the Crown Point Wabash Station House at midnight. Although Ray had been married and divorced five times as of my final visit, I was still his youngest child.

Following Mom’s death, I found a yellowed scrap of paper with some scrawled words to the effect that my grandfather cried when Mother told her parents, presumably after the fact, that she and Ray had been married by the Justice of Peace, but no date was given. However, I suspect their marriage took place in the summer or early fall of 1938. Instead of resuming her teaching for the following year, she moved with Ray to Duluth, Minnesota, where they lived in a trailer. Ray worked as a travelling salesman, but his drinking was becoming excessive, and he changed jobs frequently. I believe Mother concluded he would not make a good parent or a responsible husband. She left Ray, headed home to Indiana, and filed for divorce. My biological father saw me once when I was an infant and paid Mother a total of $15 for my support.

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(Above is a photo of Anne with her Mother)

Until I was two and a half, I lived with Mother in the small northern Indiana resort community of Norway. It was perched on the banks of Lake Shafer, where my grandfather had owned the only grocery store in town for more than fifteen years. I have very few memories of Norway and most of what I do know comes from looking at old photographs and asking questions about them.

I have a vague feeling of many people, probably relatives, visiting us, especially when the weather was warm. My memory is accurate: There were weddings, funerals, family reunions, and visits from friends and relatives. Often, my grandparents, five grown children were home, whether Aunt Mawgy, my baby language for Aunt Margaret, had driven down from St. Luke’s Hospital, or Uncle Bill, who was a business major at Indiana University, had come home for a weekend. Aunt Libby and Uncle J.T. lived just 25 miles from Norway and Uncle Jim and his wife, were 100 miles away. Also, my grandma came from a large family, and so there were many great-aunts and uncles around to spoil me, as if my mother’s siblings had not already. I have a black and white photograph of me as a toddler, dragging a large Mama Doll across our yard and from the way I’m dressed, I suspect it must have been taken during one of our family events.

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(Above is a photo of Anne with her doll called Daisy)

I have specific memories of my grandfather giving me piggyback rides on his way to the store, and of searching with Mother along the shore of Lake Shafer for shells. I remember riding on a big dog’s back. I know I fell down the kitchen steps to the basement because I damaged a tooth and have a scar where I bit through my lip. I’ve been told that once when I was left in my playpen, while the family sat down to lunch, I shook down its rails and climbed out. Mother’s easel and paints were set up in the same room where I had watched her all morning, while she worked on a commissioned wall mural. When she returned from eating, I was hard at work, paint brushes in hand, dipping them in her oil paints and slapping paint not only on the canvas but also on me and everything nearby. Apparently, she was upset beyond belief, because my grandfather’s often repeated words have informed our family’s care of children ever since: “Don’t punish the child. She is much more valuable than the thing.”

At St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago, one of Aunt Margaret’s patients was Mr. Richard G. Krueger,owner of a New York manufacturing and wholesale business, specializing in the nursery set. Around 1941, he had come to Chicago for a meeting and while there needed emergency medical care. He happened to be hospitalized on the same floor where Aunt Margaret, whom I called Aunt Mawgy, was head nurse. He so appreciated the care he had received that when he was released a month later, he sent a large box of beautiful stuffed animals to my aunt, with instructions that they be distributed to all the nurses who had cared for him, and she should take what remained. I reaped the benefit of my aunt’s gift, when she gave me the most beautiful velvet Ferdinand the Bull with tubular legs which let him to sit on his haunches. Half a dozen colourful felt flowers on long stems drooped from his embroidered mouth. My second gift from Aunt Mawgy was a blue monkey that became my best chum. From the first through the third grades, I dressed my monkey in doll clothing most mornings and took her to school with me. (Illus # 5)

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(Above is a Second Grade school photo of Anne with her blue monkey)
Once when I was small, Mother and I drove to Chicago to visit Aunt Mawgy at St. Luke’s. Looking out one of the windows in the nurses’ quarter, we saw an organ grinder cranking his hurdy-gurdy with his monkey chained to the box and holding out a tin cup to every passerby. Quickly, we went down to the street for an up-close look. I was impressed enough by my memory of that stellar event that roughly sixty years later when I spotted a put-together organ grinder doll in a sales room, complete with his hurdy-gurdy, monkey, and tin cup, I bought it.

My mother applied to teach in Indiana public schools as soon as she graduated with her Masters of Art degree from Purdue University in June 1942. Signing a contract with the school system in New Albany, Indiana, to teach art in the elementary schools, she and I moved about 200 miles away from the only family I knew.

New Albany, a medium-sized town founded on the southern-most edge of Indiana, lies in a flat floodplain, bordered by the Ohio River, which also marks the Mason-Dixon Line and divides Indiana from Kentucky. During the Civil War, the river separated the Union States from those in the Confederacy. The Iroquois named the river Oh-e-yo, meaning beautiful water. To the west and north of New Albany, the city is surrounded by quite steep hills, known by the descriptive term, The Knobs. These distinctive looking hills with rounded tops rise above the floodplain by 400 to 850 feet, and were long ago pushed here by the ancient glaciers, which dug out the Great Lakes. New Albany is the county seat of Floyd County, and the name Floyd is shared with one of the steepest hills, Floyds Knobs, virtually creating a northern wall behind the town.

Main Street runs parallel to the river and is the last street before the ground drops to the water’s edge. The street is now blocked from the mile-wide river by a flood wall, which was erected sometime after the 1945 flood. Along Main Street, steamboat captains lived in grand Victorian mansions, some equipped with widow?s walks, from where wives could watch for the approach of their husband’s vessels. My husband’s great uncle lived in one of these houses and owned the Steamboat Dexter until it caught fire.

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(Anne’s husband standing in front of his great-uncle’s house on Main Street in New Albany, Indiana)

As one would expect of a borderline town in a borderline state, some of the mansions along Main Street had secret passageway, leading to the river, and were part of the Underground Rail road, built to aid runaway slaves in their hazardous journey to reach freedom. Since 1958, many of these elegant homes have been put on the National Register of Historic Places, and my mother painted watercolours of most numerous times.

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(The Culbertson Mansion, a watercolour by Anne’s mother of the Culbertson
Home, finished in 1869 and built in the Second Empire architectural style)

Mother was fascinated by the vivid contrast between Main Street’s uniquely fanciful antebellum architecture and the run down buildings found in other New Albany neighbourhoods. I believe she looked upon the city landscape as if it were an old, tattered piece of fragile lace, which retained great beauty in its historical decay. I’m not sure which side of the divide was the location of our rented housing during our first year in New Albany, but I have sketchy memories of more than one place where Mother and I resided, and of several people who cared for me daily.

Mother wisely discovered she could not properly provide for my care and teach, too. Since my Uncle Jim, two years younger than Mother, had recently died , it took little persuasion from her to convince my grandparents to move to New Albany. They had already realized that of their four living adult children, my mother needed them most. My grandfather sold the store and house in Norway, grandma packed up their belongings, and it wasn’t long before we were all living under the same roof. About a year later, my uncle Bill moved to New Albany and in with us. Although he had graduated from Indiana University in 1941 and had embarked on an accounting career, he continued to suffer both emotionally and physically from a farming accident, which had nearly killed him when he was sixteen. In 1943 he was in need of frequent medical help, especially as the leg he had injured was diseased and needed further surgery. So, now, we were five under one roof.

Beginning in January 1942, Aunt Mawgy signed up to give her all to the war effort. She spent six months with the Red Cross recruiting nurses for the army before joining the Army Nurse Corps in June 1942. Eventually shipped overseas, she landed a day or so after the offensive on Omaha Beach, from where a truck drove her and the other nurses to Carentan, France. Here, Aunt Mawgy supervised sixteen surgical wards in a tent hospital.

Likewise, my mother served during the summers of 1943 and 1944, working at Jeff Boats where many large troop carriers were under construction. She took me to witness a bit of history when a finished war ship was christened with a bottle of champagne, broken across the bow as the war ship slipped into the river. The carrier would follow the Ohio River to the Mississippi and down that giant waterway to the Gulf and out to sea. I have a vivid memory of that gigantic black hull crashing into the water.

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(The photo above is Jeff Boats, ca. 1943, a watercolour by Virginia Parker, of a World War II war ship)

Besides my mother’s career and summer job, she had an active social life. Since I saw little of her, my dolls and stuffed animals were my beloved playmates and my grandmother was my main caregiver. I called Sundays my pink days because that was about the only time I could have an entire and wonderful day with my mom. She spent many Sundays cutting out and sewing stuffed dolls or doll clothes for me, while I built towns from blocks for her to admire. The story was related to me years later about one night when Mother, after returning home from playing bridge, went upstairs to kiss me goodnight, but instead of finding me in the bed, she saw all of my dolls tucked under my covers. I was discovered under the bed, soundly asleep on the floor.

I knew my Aunt Mawgy was overseas and that everyone was anxious about her safety. The family would gather around the radio in the evening to listen to the European war news. Grandma and Grandpa (whom I’ve called “Gagan” my whole life, as did my cousins) were worried about their intrepid, red-haired daughter and wanted some word she was safe. Yet, no letters from her arrived for months, and I sensed their uneasiness. In the morning, Grandma would turn on the radio to John Phillip Sousa marches, and while she washed up the breakfast dishes, I’d march around the dining room table, yelling “Kill Hitler.” I was keenly aware he was the reason behind the war, and my dear Aunt Mawgy’s being gone, as well as the distress the evening radio broadcasts caused my family, and my grandma and Gagan’s worried faces.

I was a happy child, and my extended family was all that a little girl needed. Sometimes, though, a few more small girls for playmates probably would have pleased me, that is, before I learned at the tender age of four to be careful what I wished for because I might get it. When little Joy Formals came to live with us on a daily basis,I was quite happy to see the back side of her when she finally left.

It must have been early summer 1943 when my Mother asked Grandma what she thought about giving Joy Formals a temporary home.Her single mother worked at Jeff Boat with Mother, was poor, and had no one to watch her daughter during the day. Mother believed I would enjoy having a little girl about my age around every day. My grandmother said taking care of two children was easier than one, but I don’t think either Grandma or Mother counted on that one child being as spoiled as I. Not too long after Joy’s arrival, I grew jealous of her, for after all, she was robbing me of more than half the attention I was used to receiving. She had a speech impediment and said funny things, making everyone think the little waif was adorable. That fall she went to kindergarten with me. After she had been with us for a short while, I discovered she was a push over, so I did naughty things and blamed them on her. I soon learned she was too shy to defend herself, so I struck out on a mission to become the naughtiest girl imaginable. I have no idea how long little Joy lived with us, and I don’t remember playing with her much. In fact, I have almost no memory of interacting with her, other than to blame her for my bad deeds. In contrast, I do remember how I loved my dolls, and some of the adventures I had with them.

Joy may have disappeared from my life around October or November 1943 when my Aunt Libby was pregnant with her second child and needed to be hospitalized. Grandma was summoned to care for their first born, my 18-month-old cousin John, and she took me with her on the train to Washington, D.C. Uncle J.T., an Army Air Force Major on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, met us and took us to their apartment. Grandma and I were there until after Christmas, while Aunt Libby was under the care of doctors and nurses at Walter Reed Hospital, but due to her worsening condition, surgery could no longer be delayed. Since aesthetic would have killed the foetus, the hospital called in a doctor skilled in performing spinal taps, which in the early 1940s was an experimental procedure. Successfully accomplished, the spinal tap is credited with having saved her second child, who is now a doctor himself.
At my aunt and uncle’s D.C. apartment, I slept on the living room couch. I remember awakening on Christmas Eve and staring at the Christmas tree, when suddenly whom did I spy, but Santa himself. Seeing is believing and my belief in him was more firmly planted than before. I did not give up on the jolly old elf until I was nearly 8 years old. Each Christmas he gave me a special doll, carefully placing it under the tree, and he had even found me at my uncle and aunt’s apartment. Through the years, Santa brought me a Madame Alexander W.A.V.E., having a Wendy Ann face,wearing a white navy outfit, and a short, curly, brunette mohair wig. In 1947, I received Alice in Wonderland. And, there was the Baby Genius I named “Betty.” The Christmas when I was four and a half brought a 13-inch Ideal Shirley Temple, but in honour of my mother, I named her Virginia Golden because both the doll and Mother were beautiful.

I believe Virginia Golden was my favourite doll, although Daisy was a close second. Before age five, Dr. Day used to pay regular house visits because I was in bed several times with those horrid childhood diseases for which vaccines had not yet been discovered, and I came down with almost all of them , whooping cough, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Once when my kind paediatrician made a house call, he brought me a bouquet of daisies. The flowers so perked me up, I named my old Mama Doll after the flower, even though she was already well loved by then. She had a composition head, lower legs, and arms; a stuffed cloth body; and tin, lithographed sleep eyes. She was one of my first dolls, and had been with me since we lived in Norway.

Great-Aunt Marnie, my grandmother’s youngest sister, sent me a pair of her daughter’s out-grown bisque Happy Fat dolls. I was careful with them, and at my early age, they whetted my desire for antique dolls. One time when Grandma and I passed the Goodwill Industries store in New Albany, I noticed an old-fashioned, bisque-headed doll in the window, which I very much wanted. I begged for her unmercifully. I’m sure Mother and Grandma discussed the matter, concluding I had no business with an antique breakable, yet they didn’t want to forbid it. Mother said if I washed the kitchen floor every week and saved my money earned for doing a good job, I could buy the doll when I had enough to pay for her. I worked diligently under Mother’s supervision each weekend, scrubbing the floor and saving every earned cent. Mother must have called the Goodwill to ask them to hold the doll, for when I had enough money to buy her, she was still there.
Even though suffering a cracked shoulder plate (eventually repaired) and inexpertly taped arms to stop the sawdust from leaking, my common 18-inch Armand Marseilles (A.M.) 390, from the early 1900s, is significant to me still in so many ways and still with me. She has a bisque head on a kid leather body, and a reddish mohair wig. Engraved on the back of her bisque shoulder is the name ?Alma? in script.

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(Above is a photo of Alma, an 18-inch Armand Marseilles 390)

Shortly before I was six, the first and second grade teachers at the nearby elementary school invited me to bring my dolls and talk about them to their classrooms. I knew the two teachers well because one was dating my Uncle Bill and would be my first grade teacher in September, and the other was Mother’s close friend. That was the first of many talks about dolls I would give in my 76 years.

The year 1945 was important for me not only because I’d earned enough money by working to buy an antique doll and had given my first doll presentation but also because of three major national and international events: U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died; the second worst flood in New Albany since 1884 devastated it, as well as all the river towns and cities up and down the Ohio River; and the Allied troops finally defeated the German Nazis.

I well remember the destructive flood of March 1945 when New Albany and other towns and cities along the Ohio River flooded. The muddy water rolled to within a couple of blocks of our house. We were lucky to have a small grocery store next door. However, if we needed to go south toward the river or just about anywhere else, we had to take a boat. My imagination was whetted by the flooding and the taxi boats Grandma and I rode in if we needed to go almost anywhere. For several years a flood scenario supplied the main theme for my doll play. I’d sit on an area rug or blanket surrounded by my dolls and their clothes. In my fantasy the water was very deep, making it impossible for my dolls and me to get off our raft.

The following month after the flood waters receded, my grandparents were deeply saddened by President Roosevelt’s death and in equal measure were deeply gladdened on V-E Day by the newsboys, cries of “Read all about it. The war is over.” I was playing with my dolls on the side walk, in front of our house that afternoon, when it seemed the quiet afternoon was split apart by thunderous shouting, horns honking, people running. Grandma ran from the house, grabbed up my toys, and I trailed after her to be scrubbed and dressed in clean clothes. Out the door we went and hopped onto a trolley to go down town and celebrate with the whole world. When Grandma explained that Hitler was dead, I knew my morning marches around the dining room table had been successful.

I understood, at age five, the jubilant day meant my dear Aunt Mawgy would be home soon, but it didn’t happen quite that fast and not quickly enough to please my family. We still did not receive any letters from her or hear of her whereabouts until shortly before Christmas. I can’t imagine, now, what the adults in my family must have feared.When Aunt Mawgy finally called from Manhattan, she had just reached shore, but didn’t arrive
in New Albany until January 1946. She explained she wasn’t allowed to leave Frankfort, Germany, until nearly the last of the transport ships departed for America because they had to set up POW hospitals and train the German staff. She spent Thanksgiving somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, dining on a savoury wedge of lettuce with mayonnaise on top. She also had gone months and months without mail or pay checks, and had left Germany with ten dollars to her name. Aunt Mawgy brought me two dolls from Belgium, a boy and girl in regional dress, wearing wooden shoes. The girl carried a basket from which a goose poked its head out from under the lid. Now, I think, she perhaps represented Bécassine, a French comic character.

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(Above is a photo of Anne’s artwork of a pair of Belgium dolls in regional dress, wearing wooden shoes. My caption of their provenance written after 1946: “Aunt Mawgy gave me these dolls.
She got them in Brussels when she was over-seas.”)

Meanwhile, between the flooding in March and the end of summer, my mother and grandfather went house hunting. Their criteria for the right place included a safe neighbourhood for me, with an affordable and suitably large house, situated high above the floodplain. Before the start of school in September 1945, we moved into 415 Highland Avenue, located on Silver Hills, a steep knob at the city’s western edge, overlooking the river. Legend has it that the knob was so named due to the silver poplar trees. When the wind blew, the silver undersides of the leaves flipped up, turning the hill into shimmering silver. Others feel the name Silver Hills is a translation from the Woodland People’s language for the knob. The word silver figures in many area names , Silver Crest, Silver Street, Silver Creek, and so forth. The term Woodland People refers to the numerous tribes of Native Americans, living east of the Mississippi. The furthest outreach of the Middle Mississippian Culture is thought to be around the area where I grew up, consisting of among other tribes, the Algonquin, Iroquois, Cherokee, Shawnee, and Miami.

The hill was a great place for an imaginative child to grow up, despite my memories of the loneliness I felt that first winter in our new house. The seemingly unlimited space overwhelmed me, and I didn’t know the neighbourhood children because most attended the county school. Silver Hills was still outside the city limits at that time. However my mother paid tuition for me to attend city schools, which meant my classroom friends didn’t live anywhere near me. To soothe my solitude, Mother gave me a golden cocker spaniel, and we named her Copper Penny. When she was hit by a car less than two years later, I remember being terribly distraught. My second dog, Specky, was a black and white mix of terrier and cocker spaniel, and we got into lots of scrapes with each other.

I don’t believe I acclimated to life on the hill until my first summer in 1946. I became playmates with Butch and his older sister, Janice, who was two years older than I. Nonetheless, the two of us often played dolls or paper dolls.

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(L-R: Janice holding Annes W.A.V.E. doll, Butch & Copper Penny, and Me holding Daisy)

Then, there was Van, another pal, despite his pranks. The boys, Janice, and I founded the hambone club. I remember each of us tied a string through a hambone and wore it like a necklace that summer and perhaps the next. Since our summer mission was to find as much treasure as we could, we became explorers.

My yard sloped downhill from Highland Avenue in front to the flat grassy strip where the Highland trolley tracks had been laid in 1890. The back corner of my backyard marked the end of the line. Here riders used to step down from the trolley to take a Sunday stroll in Tuley Park, adjacent to our property. Since the park and trolley were disbanded in 1932, nothing remained of the trolley when I moved to Silver Hills, except for the flat track bed. In the Hambone Club’s quest for treasure, we scoured the area and were rewarded by finding an occasional spike. In old Tuley Park we discovered a crumbling stone fountain and collapsing benches, artifacts which lit up our imaginations. The foundation of a house on the other side of the car tracks was barely visible through the vines and overgrowth, but the more hidden it was, the more it intrigued us. Our exploration turned up treasures, such as rusted old iron horses and figures, small metal toy cars, and once I found a pretty Limoges doll plate without so much as a chip or crack. I still have this cherished treasure from a by-gone-time. The woods beyond the tracks continued in steep decline to the floodplain and river below, giving us kids a great deal of acreage to explore.

We Hambone Club members also canvassed our neighbours in our search for treasure. Mrs. Mary Murphy, who lived two doors up from me, was our best source for costume jewellery, and I still have a necklace she gave me in 1946. She and I became great friends. Throughout the years, I often told her of my adventures, one proving the catalyst for a children?s adventure story she wrote.

Mrs. Murphy often visited with my grandmother and me in the evenings, holding our attention with the latest news of our neighbours, and of her many family members, most living on the hill. She was a writer for Woman’s Day magazine and as such was full of great stories. I don’t know when the idea occurred to me, but I also wanted to command my elders, attention by telling them the Silver Hills gossip. Thus, I became a spy at age seven. Shortly before Mrs. Murphy was due home, I’d slip into the unlocked house she shared with her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Shaw. Entering Mrs. Murphy’s parlour, I’d hide behind the couch awaiting her arrival, at which time Mrs. Shaw would come in with coffee, and the two sat exchanging news, family matters, and gossip. When they left the room, I slipped out and ran home to tell all I had overheard. Much later, Aunt Mawgy told me Grandma wondered where in the world I was picking up all of those stories.

Off and on from the second grade until I was about 32, I took ballet classes. The very first ballet class I attended was held in my Silver Hills home. Mother hired our teacher, who was probably one of her high school art students, and she gathered a group of girls about my age to take the classes with me. From then on, if I can borrow the movie title, I felt as if I were born to dance. I dreamed of becoming a ballerina, and my friends and I pretended we already were, as we danced all over my house.

My life took a sharp curve in the summer of 1947 when Mother met a lawyer, J. Comer Biggerstaff, and they fell in love. After a short courtship of no more than two months, they decided to marry.

12_Jly1947_VRB_&_Comer_wed,-final
(Illus. #12)

(Above is a photo of Anne’s mother and step-father’s wedding in July 1947.)

Because I was to be the ring bearer in their wedding, Mother, who sewed most of my clothing, made a sweet dress for me to wear during the ceremony. From the scraps of the floral print on a light coral-coloured background, she made another dress for my antique A M, named Alma, the doll from the Goodwill.

I called my new step-father Dad from the start and firmly believe, as I once told my niece Avery Biggerstaff, born after her grandfather’s death, that Comer was the most honest, unselfish, and most giving person I’d ever met. He loved my mother more than anything, which was evident every day of their married life and made me happy. Dad was a bit old-fashioned, though, having been born in 1900. He’d fought in both World War I and World War II, and when in the Philippines, had become very ill with yellow fever. Throughout his life, he continued to have periodic attacks of it.
Less than a year after Mother and Dad’s marriage, my grandparents and Uncle Bill moved to Reno Avenue, which was roughly three miles away, at the other end of town. Along with their move, I also changed grade schools, to be within easy walking distance of their house. Reno Avenue became my second home, where I spent more nights than on the hill. I often went to a friend’s house after school and sometimes on the weekends we had sleepovers. Since my classmates and my grandparents lived within walking distance of Silver Street School, it was easier for me to become good friends with girls my own age. I was a frequent bus rider to and from my grandparent’s house and Silver Hills. Some of my new girlfriends still liked to play dolls and with these few I formed the closest bonds. One continued as a lifelong friend, who was my room-mate at Indiana University and Maid of Honour in my wedding to my first husband.

It wasn’t too long until I had a baby brother, born August 12, 1948, named James Rice Biggerstaff. When Mother returned to teaching after Jimmy’s birth, Grandma took care of him. Often she not only had him but also our neighbours little girl Katie, and me.

My childhood summers on the hill each slipped one into the next in a blur of freedom, full of running and outside games and bike riding. Early in the morning when the dew was still wet, I’d hop on my bike, pedalling to an old orchard where butterflies were plentiful, and I’d catch one or two in my butterfly net. I had a small amount of formaldehyde to knock them out before they could tear their wings apart. When again home, I’d mount and study them.

Later in the day, Butch, Van, Janice, and I would follow the trolley car line through the woods as it curved around the crest of the hill, below neighbourhood yards. Sometimes we’d climb up through a backyard to visit this or that friend. Other times we detoured to explore a played-out quarry. Often, we’d continue around the knob until we reached Main Street Hill, one of the three steep, winding roads that led from the city to the top of Silver Hills. Off to the sides of the hilly road were the scant remains of foundations where houses once stood. One was the source of a mysterious legend about two sisters, which fired our sense of adventure. Just before the road made its final turn we skirted of the main road, taking a driveway, which provided a shortcut home. Our excursions might last three or four hours, but no one ever worried about us.

After supper, we frequently played kick the can , running, hiding , making a beeline to kick the can, and yelling Olly Olly Oxen Free, which freed all prisoners from jail. When we heard the standard cry, we often changed hiding places since the one who was IT had to return to the home base where the tin can stood. IT would count to a hundred as fast as possible, and then yell “Ready or not, here I come.” Generally, the person selected to be IT for an evening’s game still held that distinctive position when dusk turned to dark, and we ran home.

I grew to love my step-father, who wanted to adopt me legally, but was prevented because my biological father couldn’t be found to sign the necessary affidavit that would transfer my legal guardianship from Ray to Comer. Despite the legal problems, I convinced my mother and step-father that I didn’t want a different last name from theirs. Mother thought it would be a good time also to exchange my middle name for a new one. So, Winslow, the maiden name of my foster grandmother was ditched along with Parker, leaving me with just one of my birth names , Anne.

The courtroom was panelled in wood and seemed a huge place full of echoes. No one was in the room except my step-father, the judge, and me. I was in awe of the vastness and silence. When the judge asked me to step forward and explain why I wanted to change my name, I told him I wanted to have the same last name as my mother.The judge, then, asked, “And, why do you want to change your middle name”” I answered, “My mother wanted it changed.” At that moment, a month after the start-up of school and the fifth grade, I was no longer Anne Winslow Parker, but Anne Lee Biggerstaff. I remember sitting at the table, pencil and paper at hand, learning to sign my last name. The previous day, I’d gone to school with one name, to return the next with another. Sometimes, it seems the only stabilities in my life have been my love of dolls and my first name of Anne ‘ a name I cling to because it’s the only permanent name I’ve ever had and my identity is rolled up in it like a Polish Paczki.

For two years Grandma seemed to cope, taking care of her three charges, but then her health grew worse. I believe we all took her for granted, even though she was diabetic. Aunt Mawgy who was married by then, came home from Vermont to care for Grandma as her health continued to slide. She died on May 9, 1951, and I was profoundly affected.

I barely spoke the next few months, gave up my ballet lessons, and did nothing with my friends. I think Mother and Dad must have been very worried about me. Mother managed to involve me in a regional theatre production, by securing her part first before I tried out for the ingénue. We had a great time rehearsing and being in the play together, and I discovered I really liked acting.

I think it was during the late summer of 1951, our minister advertised to hire an assistant, and the man who was selected had two daughters close to my age. Since they needed somewhere to live and we had an empty third floor, with three rooms, Mother and Dad thought it might be a win/win situation for all, if they could trade room and board to the family in exchange for Mrs. Isom’s care for my brother Jimmy. I loved the arrangement. The Biggerstaffs and Isoms lived as one big family, eating our meals together, and it was almost like suddenly gaining two sisters. Both girls liked ballet, dolls, and adventure. There’s no need to say we got along famously. That Christmas we each received a Toni doll, all three having different hair colours and dresses. We played many, many hours that winter with our dolls.

Shortly before the school year began in 1952, the Isoms moved to a neighbouring town, but the girls and I remained close. Our parents drove us back and forth on weekends so we could be together. We had so many escapades it would take a good-sized chapter or two to record all of them. One that stands out is the same adventure I related to Mary Murphy who made it into a story. We discovered a completely vine-covered, two-story house or garage, accessible only from an alley. After we entered, we realized the place was inhabited, when that person entered the shack shortly after we had. Luckily, we’d already climbed a rickety ladder to what was either a loft or partial second floor, but if the man, probably homeless, had looked up, we might have been caught. Although the vagrant did not discover us, we beat a hasty retreat soon after he left.

Acting and friendship with the Isom girls greatly helped pull me out of my grief after grandma’s death. While eventually I lost track of the Isom family, my interest in acting and ballet remained strong. I continued to be active off and on in a variety of capacities in school, university, regional, and children’s theatre productions from 1951 until 1976, majoring in theatre at Indiana University. Around 1955, I auditioned for a summer repertory production, held by the South eastern Theatre Conference and, to my parents utter amazement, I was offered a summer acting job with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. The excitement I felt upon receiving that acceptance letter was followed by one of my most bitter teenage disappointments: My parents told me I was too young to go off like that, especially to mingle with a theatre crowd. I’m not sure I ever forgave them on this score.
In high school, for two or three summers, I directed the neighbourhood children in plays for a small fee. Another money-making venture my friends and I embarked on was presenting Hansel and Gretel puppet shows at birthday parties. Mother taught me how to make a plaster of paris mold from a clay head I had sculpted and how to use the mold in forming a hollow plastic wood head. We made different heads for Hansel, Gretel, Woodcutter, Step-Mother, and Witch; fashioned wigs out of raffia, and sewed the costumes to fit over our arms like a sleeve. The father of one of my friends, taking part in the puppet show, built our stage. My friends and I painted the scenery, I wrote the script, and they sung the lyrics from Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera of the same fairytale. Since I’m tone deaf, no one wanted to hear me attempt to sing.

Although I’d actively stopped playing with dolls sometime in the eighth grade, I remember saving my allowance a year later to buy one more. I never went to Stewart’s, a big department store in Louisville, without visiting the doll floor. One of my favorite dolls there was the 8-inch Vogue Ginny, and in particular a Kindergarten Kid named Dawn. By my sophomore year in high school, I made up excuses to buy more Ginny dolls, not for me but for my younger girl cousins to give as birthday presents. Even though I could not keep the dolls, it was fun just to examine all of the Ginnys and pick my favourites. A number of my younger girl cousins still have their Ginny dolls Mother and I gave them.

Mother loved to barter her watercolour paintings and portrait commissions of live models for something she wanted or needed. I think she’d developed this trait from my grandfather who had always enjoyed bartering. Once when I needed a lot of dental work, she painted a portrait of our dentist’s niece in exchange for the dentistry. Another time when I was perhaps in junior high, she painted a neighbours daughter for the antique doll of her choice, stored in their attic. She chose a china head on a pre-patent Goldsmith body, from the latter quarter of the 1800s, wearing its original dress, sewn by the elementary supervisor of Louisville schools. Technically, the doll belonged to Mother, but I named her Jenny. Enclosed in a shadow box, she hung in my Silver Hills bedroom, we called The Crows Nest. Now, Jenny resides in that same shadow box, but it’s hung in my Cincinnati doll room. (Illus. #13)

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(Above is a photo of Jenny, a pre-patent Goldsmith body, late 1800s, original dress)
After Mother completely gutted and remodelled our house about 1953, I had a larger space where I could spontaneously fling myself into dance. I’d execute a graceful balance before transitioning into a piqué arabesque, followed by a series of quick pas de bourrée, and then, a grand Jeté, where upon touching the floor, I ended like a spinning top performing a fouetté rond de jambe en tournant. Although I never developed beyond the amateur level, I just loved moving with the music. Ballet removed me from all my anxieties, cares, and any unhappiness I was feeling. Moving to the music made me feel uplifted and whole.

During my high school years, I had a dancing scholarship, taking lessons every weekday after school, and teaching Saturday morning classes. One day, a month or so before Christmas, a representative from Stewart’s visited our dance class and picked out some of us to model in the holiday doll show. We knew we would be portraying Madame Alexander dolls before we arrived at Stewart’s that Saturday, but none of us knew which specific doll. I dreamed of being Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty, or another equally gorgeous doll. We lined up and as our names were called, we took the costume we were handed to the dressing rooms. Instead of a lovely princess, I drew bashful Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

I was paid $16, the most money I’d ever had at one time. To put my earnings into perspective, 25 cents in 1953 bought a gallon of gas. Mother and Dad hoped I would spend it wisely, and I did due to Mother’s help with my travel arrangements. I spent three glorious weeks visiting the Isom girls in Wichita, Kansas.

At this point, my life was beginning to revolve around boys, dating, cruising around in cars, and other teenage activities. Dolls pretty much took a back seat until after I was married and had a little three-year-old daughter. It was Christmas day, 1966, when I met my first Sasha doll , a Götz Sasha to be specific. Mother sent a large box to her granddaughter Ellen and when my daughter tore off the wrappings, I was nearly bowled over by the doll inside. I was much more taken with Ellen’s doll than she was. I imagine Mother had looked through a Creative Playthings, Inc. catalogue and liked what she read about Sasha Morgenthaler’s concept. Educational toys had always been stressed on my mother’s side of the family. When she and her siblings were children, they not only had a Schoenhut doll but also the complete Schoenhut circus. Although Ellen played some with her new Sasha, she was never one to spend much time with dolls, even after I made clothing for her new Sasha. (Illus. #14)

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(Above is a photo of A Christmas Sasha doll for Anne’s daughter Ellen from Grandma.)

We’d been living in Wisconsin for three years when Ellen received her Sasha. When we moved there in 1963, I’d packed most of my childhood dolls and animals in a large foot locker and, for safe keeping, put it in the basement of my in-laws, store, which was humidity controlled due to requirements for storing the greenware used in the store’s ceramic classes. My mother-in-law called one night with the most awful news, saying the majority of the contents in my foot locker had been pitched due to water damage. I listened in disbelief. The store next to theirs had caught fire and burned past repair. It was the same Goodwill from where I’d bought my Alma so long ago. Although my in-laws’ store had escaped catching fire, the basement flooded. Everything not bolted down bobbed around like boats on a lake, including my trunk. Most of my dolls and all of my animals had been tossed out afterwards. The few dolls saved from the trunk were no longer strung, and by the time I saw them, a few had some discolouration to the hard plastic. I am thankful that not all of my dolls were in that trunk, but most were.

Following this heartbreak, I bought dolls on my travels to Canada and Europe. Once my husband surprised me with about six or seven antique dolls he’d spotted in a thrift shop window when walking by. My favourite was an 11-inch Simon Halbig dressed in his original Scottish kilts.
My first husband was a linguist and as such our family moved behind the Iron Curtain to Pozna’, Poland, in 1972. The ten months I resided there were not only such a cultural shock but also such a rare, stressful, and exciting learning opportunity that I cannot write of its impact in a limited way. Side trips from Poland took me to three Scandinavian countries on two occasions, Yugoslavia (now defunct), Trier and Frankfort in Germany, Luxembourg, and from Belgium on a ferry across the English Channel to Dover, and hence to numerous places in England. Everywhere I went I looked for interesting handmade folk dolls.

15_Polish_Leather_Dolls

(Photo above is Four Polish leather dolls, 2 inches to 3 inches: In Poland we hung these on our Christmas tree because we had no real ornaments. Then, on our return state side, many of these little leather people became gifts.)

When my thirteen years of married life broke up in Poland, I returned to the States with my two children and enrolled in post-graduate work. In January 1975, the kids and I moved to Virginia where I taught English and directed the children’s theatre in a community college for two and a half years. Except for putting my small collection on make-shift shelves, dolls were completely out of my mind for the next five years.

From the autumn of 1974 on, I began seeing my brother Jim?s older friend David Votaw, whom I married in May 1977. I wore an orange dress to match the handmade orange shoes my students gave me for a wedding present. A group of them worked in a local shoe factory. Our first several years of marriage were full of ups and downs, while both of us learned how to deal with my two risk-taking and rebellious teenagers.

I did buy a cheap case for the dolls I had accumulated after the trunk disaster,and added in a few more that had been stored at my mother’s house. Then, double trouble hit again during some home remodelling when a door and window were out. During the lunch hour when the workmen were gone, as well as our family, one of the men who drove my 19-year old son to work each morning, returned to our house around noon, entered, and stole every doll in my cabinet, including my first antique, Alma. Although the police got a confession from him, they had neglected to read him the Miranda Rights, so the perpetrator and his two buddies got off free. When we learned who had committed the crime, my son confronted his working associate, saying I would pay to get my dolls back, but by that time the dolls had been sold or ditched, and the thief was in full denial he’d taken part in the break-in.

Not long afterwards my son died in an accident, and thirty-five years later waves of grief still overwhelm me. After Steve’s death, my husband and I continued searching all area antique shops for my missing dolls. We were walking down Elm Street, when I suddenly felt an ice cold chill down my right arm, as if being guided. The moment we entered the doll shop, a clerk walked from a back room, fluffing out the dress on a doll she carried. I was electrified. I knew from the full length of the store the doll she held was my Alma. I went ballistic. The owner then came out of her office, and asked why I thought that particular common 390 AM was mine. Even though she no longer wore the dress Mother had made her, I could describe Alma’s repaired shoulder plate and the tape wrapped around her elbows well enough to convince the owner the doll was mine. Then, she had the audacity to ask me to buy the new dress the shop had put on Alma and commented about the rag she had worn. I told her I wanted the rag, which had nostalgic value for me. Then, looking around the shop, I found a number of other dolls belonging to me. I returned with an insurance detective to reclaim them.

To satisfy our home-owners insurance policy, I had to supply photos and an itemized descriptive list of every doll stolen from my case. To do so, I went to the public library
and combed through the doll books and price guides. This process renewed my interest in dolls and in great measure helped me through the initial period of my grief over the loss of my son. I was awarded a couple of thousand dollars by the insurance company, which I spent on a French Bébé, ca. 1875, in all original condition. In fact, at the auction, my bidding opponent was a buyer for a doll museum. When I won the bid, everyone clapped. I named my new doll Stephanie after my son. For the first time ever in my life-long love affair with dolls, I finally acknowledged to myself I was a doll collector.

Because I had loved Lenci dolls since childhood, I decided they would become my main collecting pursuit, rather than the nineteenth century French Bébés and fashions, due to my limited financial capability. I had met my first Lenci when I was eight, while spending a week with Great-Aunt Bernetha and Uncle Jack, whose children were long gone. Their daughter Harriet, sometime in the mid 1930s, travelled continental Europe on her bike and stopped in Torino, Italy, where she bought two long-limbed Lenci boudoir dolls. She tied their legs to the back of her bike, where they flapped behind her as she rode off on the rest of her adventure. These two enticing dolls were stored in a glass-fronted bookshelf beside the mantle. Aunt Bernetha let me hold them if my hands were clean and I sat quietly in a chair, which I did every afternoon of my visit, enraptured by the two dolls. Years later when I visited Harriet in Seattle, she regretted having given the Lenci pair to her grandchildren instead of to me, since they had destroyed them.

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The two photos above are part of Anne’s Lenci collection)

Although I still loved Sasha dolls and often dropped by my favourite down town doll shop to see the latest Trendons, as well as saved all the Sasha catalogues from the mid 1970s on, I didn’t buy the dolls for a variety of reasons, but mainly because my husband didn’t like them, much preferring Lencis. He’s changed his mind by now, I think, or, if not, at least he respects the Sasha doll’s concept and history. Then, too, since I believed the English Sashas would always be around, there seemed no rush to delve into my pocketbook. My friend Molly had all of the limited editions, plus a few others, which I enjoyed, but neither of us knew much of their history or even that Studio Sashas existed, to say nothing about the early Götz production. Then, one afternoon in February 1986, I was early to meet mother’s bus, so to pass an hour, I stopped by Arnold’s Fairyland. The proprietor knew me well and my attraction to Sasha. She told me the factory had stopped making them, and all but one of the Sasha dolls on her shelves had sold immediately. A lone Cora, wearing a floral print dress, stood on the shelf looking at me… I put her on layaway and immediately left to go down the street to the only other doll shop, which carried Sasha, the one where I?d found Alma six years before. The shop had Marina, Gingham, and White Dress, plus a few packaged outfits, so I put everything on layaway. When paid off, I brought my new Sasha dolls home, and told my husband they were a financial investment. Secretly taking them out of their boxes to study them, I realized these Sasha dolls didn’t match my memory of Ellen’s Sasha from 1966, and upon comparison, my interest was whetted by the differences I observed. On the spot, I decided if I wanted to keep my new Sasha dolls, they would have to work for me, and the best way was to write articles about them, which meant I needed to research their history. Molly found out about a toy and doll shop in Virginia that specialized in Sasha dolls and said the shop owner had a large Sasha doll made by the creator, Sasha Morgenthaler. It just so happened my mother and I were driving to Virginia to see some relatives who didn’t live too far from Richmond, where the store was located. I called The Toy Shoppe to ask if I could see their large Sasha and my request was granted. Remarkably, the first Studio Sasha I ever laid eyes on represented Air, of the four elements ” air, water, earth, and fire ” but I knew none of these things then and was a complete Sasha novice. I have by now had the great fortune to study all four of the dolls and still know the whereabouts of three What followed the trip to Virginia was my first article on the Sasha doll, which I entitled Sasha: The Everychild Doll.

19_length

(Above My first published Sasha article gives a brief but comparative look at the three generations of Sasha dolls, as existed in 1988. My idea was to write a series of short cameo articles, each focused on different type of doll. The next, an unfinished, a cameo detailed Lenci dolls. The Sasha article appeared in the February/March 1988 issue of Doll Reader.)

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(Above Picture of Air, a 1900s European Girl, as shown full-length in the illustration above, represents my first examination of a Studio Sasha. When I photographed her in the summer of 1986, I had just recently learned there was a third Sasha classification, beyond the serie Sashas, Götz, and Trendon. Sasha Morgenthaler did not identify what the harmonizing connection among the four dolls, including Air, was but after I examined the group and re-read her correspondence with the original owner multiple times, while pondering the repeated word harmonize, I realized the four were unified by the idea of the four elements ” water, air, earth, and fire.”)

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(Above The South American Girl of Today, represents Water. She is a CIII, marked SashaM 65/73lCIII62. She is dark skinned with dark eyes, which are deep, soulful pools. Her outfit consists of a batik dress with navy ripples and brownish foam, knitted navy wool socks, navy court shoes, chemise, and pink half slip and drawers with an open crotch. I’ve named her Lelia after my grandmother. (Since I haven’t asked the other owners for permission to show Fire and Earth, I’m not posting their pictures.)

Close on its heels, I wrote my second Sasha article, and afterwards kept churning them out, as well as giving talks and seminars about Sasha. I continue to be almost as strongly fascinated with this very special doll’s history as I was when I first began to learn about her.

(Continued in Part 2)

FOOTNOTE: Anne has asked that none of these photos are to be copied ,downloaded or pinned without her permission. Anne owns the copyright to these photos

Hi Everyone now we are into the month of February, it is time for my next Childhood to Sasha story.
This story comes from none other that the wonderful Ann Chandler.For those of you that do not know Ann is the person who started the the Sasha Festivals that are now run yearly, Ann was also joint owner of the Marcy Street Doll co.,along with being a co-author for the trilogy of Sasha books. We have so much to thank Ann for.

So here is Ann’s story in her own words.

It’s not something that I make evident to people right away. It’s not that I’m ashamed that I am as involved with dolls as I am, but I wait until I see how they feel about dolls before revealing that I am a collector. Many people think I’m nuttier than a fruitcake! And I may be. Dolls bring me more pleasure than high fashion, jewellery, or anything else I can think of, with the possible exception of family pictures.

I had my picture taken When I was about a year old, perhaps for my birthday. It is a studio portrait, in black and white, of course, and in it I am holding a bead doll. I don’t know if the toy was a photographer’s prop or one of my own toys. Whatever the case, it was a good choice for the occasion.

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(The photo above is of an about 1 year old holding a bead doll)

I also hold dolls in pictures taken when I was two and three and four and five and eight and nine. There is a picture of my unmade bed, when I was about 14, with dolls on the shelf next to it. There are pictures of me as a middle-aged woman, giving Sasha programs. We have written several books about Sasha, which has been a joy. I was giving a Sasha talk with Anne Votaw in Williamsburg VA in 1991 for a UFDC regional conference, when my dad died. The day I heard that Trendon was going out of business and Sasha dolls would not be made by them any longer, was the same day in 1986 as the Space Shuttle Challenger crash that killed seven astronauts. I still think of them together, though the shuttle loss can hardly be compared to anything happening in the doll world.

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(The photo above is of Ann as a toddler holding a doll)

Ann's_doll_collection,_1949

(When I was in high school, my dad built me a bookshelf near my bed. On it I put my doll collection of ethnic dolls he brought to me during WWII. Notice the Japanese flag over my bed? He picked that up in Japan at the end of the war when he visited Nagasaki, where the second atom bomb was dropped. I wonder if the flag was radio-active? I’m still here, so I guess not.)

I remember, when I was in grade-school, if a new family moved into the neighbourhood, my first question in getting to know the girls in the family was, “Do you like to play with dolls and paperdolls” If they looked at me askance, I knew we’d never be really close friends. If their faces lit up with delight, I knew they were kindred spirits. And in my day kids were children a lot longer than most are today. You can see evidence of this in old pictures and stories from Victorian times, though I’m not quite THAT old.

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(the photo above is Ann with her Shirley Temple doll)

I was a depression baby, born on Valentine’s Day, 1932. President F.D. Roosevelt had just been elected for the first time, and my parents were poor. Not poor like people from the dust bowl, or Appalachia. We were never without a home or food. My parents loved antiques and bought everything for their home from antique and used furniture stores. It was like a game, to find a “perfectly good” used sofa for $5.00 somewhere. We had no compunctions about moving used upholstered furniture into our home, and I don’t remember ever being infested with unwanted insects. Our home was nice. My mother was an excellent housekeeper, and had innate good taste in decorating. They were fortunate to come from a modest amount of money, and the furniture they inherited was fine antiques from the late 1700s. We just had very little cash to spend, like everyone else back in the Depression years. Mother made clothes for herself and me on a Singer treadle sewing machine, from her mother-in-law. I learned to sew on it, too. We finally bought an electric portable Singer Featherweight when I was sixteen. When I was married, at 21, a similar machine was our first purchase. We paid $12 a month for 14 months to pay for it, and it is still with me. I think we got our money’s worth.

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(My dad was a Boy Scout executive. The first year he was directing camp, at Camp Manning in Raymond, ME, Mother and I went with him and lived in the director’s cottage for a month. This is a news photo that appeared in the local paper. Notice the doll, all covered for HER nap, at the other end of the blanket. I can’t see it well enough to identify it, but my dolls were never far away, no matter where I went.)

In the 1930s, those years just prior to World War II, people behaved well, and dressed for the occasion. My father would not think of going into the bank without a shirt and tie, suit-coat and Fedora hat. My mother would not go downtown, which was the centre of our small city where everyone shopped, without gloves and a hat. I tell you this because unless you can remember those years, you might not understand why wardrobe dolls and paperdolls had so many hats to go with certain dresses, or panties to match dresses, or girls wearing dresses at all. Sasha collectors have revived some of that, but then, Sasha Morgenthaler was from an even earlier time than I.

Ann an her father

( This is my dad and me at Kittery Point, Maine, sitting on rocks at the harbours edge. The doll I am holding in my left hand was a small rubber doll, and the composition doll with cloth body in my right hand has a broken head. I seem to have loved my broken baby anyhow.)

Often, on a Sunday afternoon, we would go for rides in our car to find antique shops. By the time I was seven or eight, I was already looking for dolls in those shops, while Dad looked at the tools, and Mother at the dishes. One shop we frequented had a dollar table. Everything on that table cost a dollar or less. I had a hard time coming up with a whole dollar, all at once, before I was six years old, but as I grew older, it became a very realistic price for me. One could find all-bisque, German, miniature dolls on that table, and other treasures that a child would love. (It’s nothing to do with our subject here, but interesting to note that my only sibling was my brother, Nick, who began collecting toy guns from the dollar table. He grew up to collect rare antique Underhammer guns, made in New England in the early 1800s. He is as well-known in his gun world as I am in Sasha circles. He, too, wrote a book. We have fun comparing notes.)

Ann_off_to_picnic

(I love this picture! Our family was going on a picnic, something we did often. My mother told me to wear knee socks, but I wanted to wear ankle socks, so I wore both. I thought they looked great!The suitcase holds all the doll’s clothes for all the dolls I had, even though I am taking only “Lovie Lee” on the picnic.)

If I wanted a doll for a nickel, I could buy a three-inch Japanese bisque doll with a crape paper skirt, painted features and hair, and movable arms attached by a wire, for only five cents at the drug store. These dolls are still a bargain, and I have several. Mostly I am just nostalgic about them, because I remember the hours of pleasure I had making clothes for them, and playing with them. They were the first doll-clothes I made, when I was about eight. Recently, I bought three celluloid dolls of larger size, but similar style, with metallic-gold hair, dressed in feathers dyed gaudy colours. I know why I bought them. I could hear my mother saying to me, “No, you may not have one of those dolls. They are in poor taste!” Thank you, Mother, for teaching me good quality from poor!

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(Here I am in July 1940, off to summer camp with my doll. My brother Nick was born while I was at camp. I’m glad to have him. We have lots of interests in common, and it’s fun to live so close to him now.The doll, according to Coleman’s, is Lovely Lee, but I always called her Lovie Lee. She went everywhere with me for a while.)

When I hit my teen years, most of my friends packed away their dolls, or gave them to younger friends or relatives. Sometimes my friend?s mothers would wait until we all went to summer camp, and gave away all their dolls without permission. I’m glad my mother didn’t do that. I couldn’t seem to put my dolls away. They were my friends and my children. The dolls I played with were child or baby dolls, not dolls representing adults.

Each of my dolls had a bed. I had a wooden cradle with a hood and a really nice crib that could hold dolls about 18 inches tall. I had doll blankets and quilts and pillows. And my dolls had dolls. If I didn’t have a manufactured bed for a doll, I made her one from a round oatmeal box or gave her a shoe-box crib. In high school I still had them lined up in their beds, about 15 of them, along one wall in my bedroom. I didn’t care what anyone thought about the dolls, or me. I couldn’t discard them. I made the sweater-shelves in my clothes closet into a house for my eight-inch Vogue dolls, which were pre-historic Ginny dolls. Ginny dolls were introduced about 1951, and I spent my bus money back to school in Portland, Maine, when I was at Westbrook Jr. College, to buy my first one. Thy were exhibited as the Kindergarten Crowd, and some were sold in underpants for 50 cents less than dressed dolls. That was the one I bought. I still have her. She has that caracal curly wig that I love. My Ginny doll has a fairly large wardrobe of hand-made clothes. The clothes I made cost me nothing but time. At first I was far from skilled, but I improved over the years. The doll and her clothes live in a box in my doll-room.

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(Above is a photo of a range of Sasha doll clothes,called faded glory, produced by Ann using reclaimed fabric. Ann tells me that she sews all clothes by hand only using a sewing machine when I incorporate a machine-sewn seam from the original piece, as on the sailor jacket.Ann has also informed me that, That her travel doll, Rachel,is on the left in the sailor jacket. In the center is her early red-headed Gregor Shorts, named Michael, and on the right is her Sasha Sweater, named Jane. Jane’s hat was made by Susanna Lewis, but Ann made the dress. All the shoes are by Jean Jensen.)

Sasha dolls first came to my attention in 1967, when my only daughter, Dorothy, was six. She liked dolls well enough, but she liked stuffed animals better, and cooking, and building stuff. But when I bought my first Sasha doll, an early Gotz with dark hair and a brown cord dress, she wanted it. I told her she could play with it, but when she grew up and moved away, Sasha was staying with me. She was my doll. Later, several other Sasha dolls joined our family with a similar understanding. Dorothy still isn’t what I call a doll-lover, but she has grown to appreciate the artistry in dolls. She treasures the antique baby doll I gave her two years ago. She even has begun to attend Sasha Festival with me, much to my delight. She is amazed by what she sees there, and has formed her own opinions about certain Sasha dolls, such as repaints.

Ann Chandler Sasha Festival 2012

(the photo above is one that i took of Ann and her daughter Dorothy at the 2012 Sasha Festival in England)

When I married at 21, my 22-year-old husband and I were barely out of childhood ourselves. We wanted to have children right away, and set to work to make that happen. We proceeded to have five children, including a set of twins, in five-and-a-half years. We loved them all, though we might have chosen to put more years between them, had we been older and wiser. I can’t believe my twins will turn 60 this year, and Dorothy already has three grandsons. I had looked forward to making doll-clothes for my daughters, but the first four of my children were boys, who had only a passing interest in dolls. I had some antique dolls displayed in my living room right from the first, and the boys knew they were not toys to be played with. They appreciated my three dollhouses, in various scales, more. There seems to be an attraction for many people, regardless of sex, to a miniature world. Boys still play war with GI Joe or smaller soldiers, and the miniature world of electric trains has held many a man captive his entire adult life. There is a fine line between these forms of play, and in many families, the lines are blurred. Today, girls join the army and boys learn to cook and sew.

I have lived longer than most people I know, so I have collected dolls, and Sasha dolls longer than most people. I had nine Sasha dolls for several years, three brunettes, three blonds, and three Black dolls, a boy, girl and baby in each variation. My cousin Debby and I started the Marcy Street Doll Company in 1977 when we were both divorced. We hoped it would grow into a business that would help to support us. We broke our partnership in two years, and really weren’t making money yet, but we began to make lots of friends, and grew to appreciate Sasha dolls for the wonderful dolls they were. They were the dolls I longed for as a child. They were beautifully designed and nearly indestructible, a nice size, could stand alone, or on their heads .Perhaps the best thing about them is they were not all alike. In fact, in the early days of collecting, it was hard to find two Sasha dolls that were identical. That was when Sasha came with hair styled in side parts and centre parts, and later, no part at all. They had Gotz faces and Trendon faces, and their eyes were painted by hand. We also designed patterns to fit Sasha, and these are still being used today. A few years ago I had most of them reprinted into books. Debby did the knitting patterns and I the sewing ones. We paid our kids one cent each to fold them into thirds to sell, and sold the patterns for fifty cents each at the Marcy Street Doll Company.

When Cousin Debby and I broke our partnership, she continued to own Marcy Street Doll Company for several years. It was at this time that I decided to try to bring Sasha collectors together, first with a newsletter, and soon with an annual Festival. I never dreamed where Sasha would take me! We have now, since 1983, held a Sasha Festival each year, with various people brave enough to host the monster I created, with grace and humour, in their own home towns. We have been all over the United States, and to England twice. I truly wish we could hold one Festival in Switzerland, before I leave this planet. New Collectors need to know about Sasha’s roots, and there is no place better to see them than where Sasha Morgenthaler first made her amazing dolls by hand. We have held marvellous special exhibits at several Sasha Festivals, featuring Sasha’s original studio dolls. That’s the best we Americans can do. Now England has started having Sasha Fun Days, which are simpler than Sasha Festivals. Fun Days are usually one-day events for 30 or fewer people. While Sasha Festivals are now three days and have around 100-110 people at them. It’s getting expensive, and it is overwhelming for the hostess to try to include so much. Many of us long for the early, simpler days. That is why Fun Days began, and they are really great. I am amazed that Sasha Festivals have survived and are still planned years in advance by brave people. I have managed, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, to be at every Sasha Festival. I have hosted five festivals, and assisted as several others. I will not host another. It’s too much work.

Gay men have found acceptance in the doll-collecting world. Some straight men, who began collecting boy and man dolls when their wives started collecting dolls, were drawn to Sasha dolls because they included boys, as well as sexed baby boys, in the beginning. I find friendships built on common interests much more fulfilling than those made on the basis of age or sex. If you love dolls, what difference does it make? You are my kind of person! Or art, or music, or antiques and old houses, or any other common interest. It’s a cruel world out there, and I try to value people as they are, for the most part. I admire people who are creative and have a good sense of humour. I pity people who judge people before they even meet them because they are different, or belong to a certain ethnic group. How dull life would be if we were all the same. Different isn’t necessary bad, it’s only different. Sometimes different from an old way of seeing things is interesting, or better. So, go out there and love a Vegetarian today. Some of my best friends are Vegetarians, or even Glutton-Free, especially if they like dolls. Some Vegetarians even share my love for Sasha.

Note:
I would just like to say a great big thank you for Ann for telling us her story. The last few months have not been easy for her first of all recovering from her fall at last years Sasha Festival and more recently being involved in a car crash and also heavy snow fall. I also would like to wish Ann a very very Happy Birthday for this Saturday St Valentines day, Ann will be 83 years young. Have a Sashatastic day and here’s to many more!!!

Hi Everyone i hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.As you all know last year was the year of the Calender Challenge.

This year i have decided to do something completely different.

There have been quite few new people come into the world of Sasha recently and i myself only started my journey with Sasha dolls a couple of years ago and am still learning.
There are others who have been in the Sasha world for quite a while and indeed we can all learn a lot from these wonderful people.I though it would be a nice idea to get to know some of our Sasha folk a little better, especially as some of come from all different parts of the world and may never get to meet these wonderful people in person or learn what they have bought to the world of Sasha.

This year on my blog will be be profiles From Childhood to Sasha

So without further ado my first From Childhood To Sasha Profile is from the one and only Brenda Walton.

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(The photo above is one of Brenda at the 2012 Sasha Festival)

Brenda Walton’s Story

I entered the world at Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport, in June 1938, to loving parents Lily and Harry Williams, who thought that I would never arrive after trying since 1928 to have a child. On September 3, 1939 – Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. On September 4, 1939 – British Royal Air Force attacked the German Navy. Then on September 5, 1939 – the United States proclaimed its neutrality; German troops cross the Vistula River in Poland. At this poignant time, my father became seriously ill and went into hospital – first one, then another, then another, but he was never to return to our home and died in hospital when I was four years old. I cannot really remember him, which is sad, as I understand that he was a wonderful “Daddy” to me during the first 14 months of my life, when he was at home.

Home was a small 3 bedroom terraced house in Liverpool Street, which runs adjacent to Houldsworth Street, where the Frido / Trendon / Sasha dolls were manufactured 1965-1986. In the 1800’s Reddish was a sleepy little village, but with the burgeoning cotton industry, the area became a satellite of Cottonopolis (Manchester) with cotton mills sprouting up everywhere. The Greg family opened the Albert Mill in Reddish in 1845 and built some facilities for the workers and by 1851 the Reddish population had risen to 1,218. I mention the Greg family as a TV series “The Mill” was made about their Quarry Bank Mill, which I am sure many of you will have seen.

Houldsworth_Mill

(Houldsworth Mill)

The Houldsworth Mill which was built in 1865, and the (Sasha Mill) Reddish Spinning Company in 1870, were to herald a further growth spurt in Reddish, so that the population gradually rose to 5,557. Sir William Henry Houldsworth (Baronet) was very conscious of his duties to his workers from these two mills, and a great upholder of the principle that those who had created wealth had a responsibility for those who had not, especially a responsibility towards their spiritual welfare.

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(Houses on Houldsworth Street)

Around his mills Sir William built a community of houses, two rows opposite the Houldsworth Mill, and one row in Liverpool Street (where I was to live at number 18). He also built two parks, on Houldsworth Street and Liverpool Street; the Houldsworth Working Men’s Club opened in 1874 – a social club which sold alcoholic drink, but which also had a games room, library, newsroom and lecture room; Houldsworthgirls School, opened in 1876, (where I was later a pupil age 4 – 9); and St Elisabeth’s Church, consecrated in 1883 (where I was married to Frederick Walton in March 1957), so my life has revolved around an area where I was to work for 35 years. Additionally, he built a detached house for the headmaster and a beautiful Rectory to house the Vicar. Incidentally, all of the buildings built by Sir William are in good order and in full use today – the Church is Grade 1 protected and all the other buildings are Grade 2 protected, so they are well protected against change.

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(St Elizabeth’s Church where Brenda and Fred were married)

Life was hard in the Williams household, and it was only with the help of my mother’s brothers and sisters that we managed to survive at all, although I did get several pairs of shoes over the years from Pendlebury Orphanage in Stockport, so I wasn’t barefoot. There were no government “hand-outs” at that time, and many families had men serving in the armed forces, so lots of people were in the same boat. My mother was fortunate that we lived close by to Kay Brothers Limited, and was able to get a part-time job there – checking knitted containers for anti-tank “Sticky Bombs” as the chief chemist at Kays developed the special adhesive required for the bombs to stick on the tanks. I had several “knitted rejects” to keep my marbles in!

Although everything was rationed Skipping ropes were from the greengrocers, where they had been tied round crates, hop-scotch was very popular because you only needed a smooth stone, or better still – an old shoe polish tin, to aim along the pavement to the required number, and of course whip and top was always popular, so long as you could get hold of a decent piece of string!!

When I was seven and a half years old, my Christmas gift was a beautiful celluloid baby doll, I thought she was absolutely wonderful and I named her Marlene. Marlene was dressed, by my clever Auntie Nellie, in beautifully crocheted pink underwear, dress, coat, hat and shoes – I really thought she was from heaven. I did not realise of course that she was “second-hand” and had belonged to a very lucky little girl, who now grown, did not want her any more. Marlene was my playmate, best friend and confidante for many years. It is only recently I have had to dispose of her, as the celluloid became too brittle and tended to break easily. I have always loved dolls, but apart from Marlene the only other dolls I had were a cut out paper set with a huge variety of paper clothes – these were donated to British children by American servicemen, providing you had sent in your details to the nearest base – ours being Burtonwood USAF near Warrington. These became a good help in passing away the time in an enjoyable manner, as there was of course no television and we did not own a radio.

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( A doll similar to the one Brenda owned as a child)

In my early years at school I did well, though I was always a chatterbox and often had to stand in the corridor for talking during class, and often had the cane when I was naughty – however, I enjoyed my time at Houldsworth School and was quite sad to leave to attend the new Junior School in North Reddish. I had only been there a matter of 10 months or so, when one Saturday morning, having done my usual list of shopping for my mother, Auntie Nellie and Mrs Halliwell,
(I shopped every Saturday morning, grocers, greengrocers, butchers and dairy for which I got 6p spending money) I was on my way home and was hit by a speeding car – ending up in hospital for almost 12 months, but I recovered to full health in the end. During my time in hospital, I missed the National Exams for High School, so went on to Reddish Vale Secondary School where I excelled. I became deputy head of House in year 2, and Head Girl at the start of Year 4.

My mother Lily had been a very bright pupil when she was at Houldsworth School, and the headmaster secured a place for her at J. Halden & Co. Ltd in the drawing office, but my grandmother said she had “to go in the mill like all the others” so my mother actually started work in the Reddish Spinning Company on Houldsworth Street, where I was later to work for Sasha Dolls. Not wanting my fate to be the same as hers, my mother (who became a qualified tailoress) scrimped and saved enough to send me to a private Business College for a years training – Shorthand, Typing, Book-keeping, Commercial English and Maths. At the end of one year, I left Bradburn College taking shorthand at 140 wmp and typing at 80 wpm – my first position was as Secretary to the Managing Director of Lincoln Bennett – a bespoke hat manufacturer in Stockport. I was almost 16.

Lincoln Bennett were bought out some 2 years later and the factory moved from the centre of Stockport to the outskirts of town, so I changed job to work as Secretary to the Personnel Manager at a Dye company, again in the centre of Stockport. When I got married to Frederick (Fred) in 1957, we bought a house in Liverpool Street the same row as my mother (number 18) Auntie Nellie at 16, and Fred and I moved in to 14 – very handy if you ran out of something when the shops were shut !!! Six years later I spotted an advert in the local weekly paper, Secretary Required for the Managing Director of Frido Limited and two associated companies.
I applied and went for interview with Mr Siegmund Friedland (brother of Sara Doggart) and after a full hour of tests etc. he offered me the job on the spot. Wow – only a five minute walk to work, that would be great. I started work on 1st July 1963 and two months later Frido Limited, Sima Plastics Limited, V & E Friedland Limited – became a public company (whereby people can invest in shares in the company, quoted on the London Stock Exchange) and Mr Friedland became Chairman of the company.

Mr Friedland was a handsome man, and in his earlier years had been quite the “man about town” in Paris before the outbreak of war. I very much enjoyed working for him, but was told very early on that he had a heart problem. He was a real character, enjoyed life and joined lots of local activities in nearby Macclesfield with his wife Tezi (Theresa). I can remember that he once went on a cruise and on Fancy Dress night, he went as The Absent Minded Professor – dress shirt, dinner jacket – but no trousers, he thoroughly enjoyed life. In November 1964 he was driven to work by his chauffeur on a very foggy day, and then insisted on driving himself somewhere. I got a call to say Mr Friedland had been taken ill, and could I send a car for him, which I did immediately. When he got back to the factory he would not let us call for a doctor or send him home, he insisted he was feeling better. A short time afterwards he agreed to go home, took a couple of steps and collapsed in front of me at the office. He had had a massive heart attack and just dropped dead. Nothing could be done – he was 54.

John Doggart, as Deputy Chairman of the Company took charge the following day, after the funeral. He asked if I would continue to work for him, and I agreed. At that time Frido Limited was the UK’s biggest play-ball manufacturer, but as the sales, for beach balls in particular, were mainly in the summer time, we manufactured a range of Frida dolls – the usual pink vinyl doll that every UK manufacturer seemed to make – the major sale time for these being Autumn up to Christmas. This meant that instead of “laying off” the majority of employees, we were able to keep continuity of staff. After we had exhibited at the Harrogate Toy Fair in January 1965 and the British Toy Fair at the end of that month, John Doggart and his wife Sara decided they would discontinue the current range of dolls and look around for something better to make, that they could be proud of.

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Sasha_Factory_in_Reddish

(The Sasha Factory In Reddish)

Most of you will know the story from then on, but briefly a designer we used regularly came across the Swiss Magazine “Graphis”, which featured Sasha Morgenthaler and her dolls. He passed over the magazine to the Doggarts who were enthused with what they saw, immediately made arrangements to see Sasha in Switzerland. Initially, Sasha was a little hesitant with her visitors, but within a very short time they had forged a friendship that would grow in strength over the years. A strong bond developed between John, Sara and Sasha and that only ended when Sasha died.

Sara Doggart was born in Minsk. At the time of the Revolution, her family had fled to Berlin – I believe that Sasha had some Russian heritage as well, and this is what possibly helped these two women understand each other – although it was more than just empathy. Because of her linguistic skills, Sara Doggart was able to speak to Sasha without interpreters – Russian, German, French, English, Hebrew, Italian, plus a little Greek were Sara’s gifts.

John Doggart promised Sasha. That if she gave him license to manufacture the Sasha Doll in England that he would ensure it was well engineered. Aesthetically, Frido would make the doll to meet Sasha’s dream. John gave his word that there would be no compromise; it would be made in the finest way possible, or not at all.

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(Sara and John Doggart)

Sasha agreed to give the Doggarts the license to manufacture Sasha for sale in the areas of the United Kingdom, all the British Commonwealth and Scandinavia. In Stockport, machines were purchased, and some very clever engineers were given the task of how to manufacture Sasha. In this respect the Frido company was extremely fortunate, because John Doggart employed excellent engineers and model makers in the Friedland chime company, and so they were “seconded” to work on Sasha.

There was a lot of hard work though – Sasha had not designed the doll with mass production in mind, and it was quite difficult to overcome some of the moulding problems, particularly how to remove the legs and arms from the moulds because of Sasha’s asymmetrical shape. Sasha M did not like the line which joined both halves of the body, and so Frido made a bikini line join, which did not show under panties. All such problems were overcome and with the Frido expertise in rotational moulding, which was the same process used for plastic play balls, and so we began the Stockport manufacture of Sasha dolls.

Brenda and Doreen Bell eye painter 1980s

(Brenda with Doreen Bell who was the eye painter in the 1980’s at the Sasha Factory)

In the early months of production, Sasha M would visit us quite often and was always happy to help solve problems and on looking back, I guess we were lucky that she really enjoyed herself when she was at the factory. Later she would make just 2 or 3 visits a year, but the girls on the doll floor enjoyed having her around, as much as she enjoyed sitting with them and hearing their various stories – where they were off dancing at the weekend – Belle Vue or Levenshulme Pallais, who they were going with, what they would be wearing. The girls on the doll floor lived very locally, so many would go home during the one hour lunch break and often bring back things to show Sasha M, photographs, material they had bought etc.

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( This photo of Sasha Morgenthaler has never been used before and it not to be copied)

Many of the girls had attended Houldsworth School and knew each other well,
so they could tell funny stories about one another to her, and Sasha loved this.
Sasha M also liked to listen to their jokes – sometimes she had to have them explained to her – but in the main she understood what the punch line was and really had a good laugh. When she was not on the doll floor, Sasha had an office adjacent to mine, so we saw quite a lot of each other and she often asked for my opinion on something – I always tried to say exactly what I thought, and I believe that she appreciated my honesty. I had lovely dolls on my shelves which Sasha had painted, and it was amazing to watch her deftly change a blank face into a raving beauty. I am so lucky to have 9 of these “extra special” no- philtrum prototype dolls which received the same hair/dress/painting progression as did the studio Sasha dolls. Because I had looked after them in my office so very well, Sara told me I should take them home – how lucky can you get!!

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(This photo of Sasha Morgenthaler has not been used before and is not to be copied)

Because the girls on the doll floor had been friends for many years, the working atmosphere was more like a harmonious family, rather than having to be there to “earn a crust”. In the early days, I guess we had 15 girls and a male supervisor working on Sasha, so the group were very close knit. Towards the end of production in 1985, we had two moulding men on the floor, and say 30 girls on assembly / packing, plus 30 or so outworkers responsible for the sewing of the outfits, plus a female supervisor. These girls were paid a very good rate, because of the standard expected – as many of you will know, the making up of dolls clothes does tend to be fiddly. Everything was sent out to them in boxes of 100, including cotton, elastics, Velcro, trimming etc. cut and prepared to be sewn. We all knew each other by our forenames, and I was always going upstairs to see if things were on schedule to meet orders due for shipment.

Benda and Sara Daggart

(Brenda and Sara Doggart at the Toy Festival)

One of the things I enjoyed very much, was to attend the Toy Fair and meet up with the people you usually only speak to on the telephone. Initially, we would start with the Harrogate Toy Fair at the beginning of January, then the British Toy Fair in the middle of January, followed in sequence by the Paris, Nuremberg and New York Toy Fairs – it was always exciting to dress the stand – I usually had around 150 dolls at the fair – all needing their hair brushed, clothes attended to and then put on display. Hard work, but I loved it.

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(The Sasha stand at the Toy Festival)

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( A photo shoot for a Sasha advertisement)

So it was a very sad day in January 1986 when we finally closed Sasha production.Everyone was given the opportunity to transfer to the Friedland chime company, but only about 50% of people did this.I did transfer, doing the same job in Friedland as I had at Sasha, but instead of lovely dolls – it was door chimes, bells and pushes, and instead of going to the Toy Fairs – it was the Spring show in Birmingham, The Hannover Fair and the American Hardware Show in Chicago – just a little bit different.

The only significant time I had off work was at the beginning of 1970 – I attended the Harrogate Toy Fair, and then worked at home until Friday, 30th January. Our daughter Michelle was born on Wednesday, 4th February 1970. It had been my intention to stop work completely, but within a month I had been asked to go back – even if it was only part time, so I started back in April working 8am to 2pm without a break, which was only a couple of hours shorter than my usual hours, the only difference being that we had moved to Marple which was 7 miles from the factory, a lovely village with the Peak Forest Canal running through it and a flight of 16 locks for the holiday barges to negotiate. We get a lot of people from overseas on the holiday barges, I think they like the idea of tying up near pubs along the way and getting to know local people, as well as negotiating the Marple Aqueduct some 100 ft. above ground.

However, living 7 miles away didn’t prove a difficulty, good old Mum and Auntie Nellie came to the rescue, they almost grabbed the pram off me in the morning when I was dropping Michelle off and were very reluctant to hand her back!!! Of course they would take her on long walks and to the shops in the morning, and then in the afternoon I would push her around Marple and meet up with friends, so the little one had plenty of fresh air and loving company. When she was just over two, I enrolled her at a private kindergarten – she loved playing with the other children – all was well, until I got home to Marple one day and realised I had forgotten to pick her up – was my face red !!!! From the age of 7, Michelle would travel down to London with her dad when we were exhibiting at the British Toy Fair – of course everyone made a fuss of her and she loved looking at all the new toys that would be coming out for the following Christmas – what a sneak preview.

Theresa asked me if I had a favourite doll, and it must be my Algerian Girl which Sasha M hand painted – her deep purple eyes are wonderful. My second favourite is Alice, again a Sasha M hand paint with beautiful big eyes – she is from the very first mould that we made.

Alice the Algerian girl. 2JPGAlice the Algerian girl
(Yasmine the Algerian Girl)
Now that I am nearer 80 than 70, I keep thinking that the pace will slow down, but it never seems to happen. There are always lots of things to do and lots of things to be done. Michelle has lived in Dubai since 2001 and latterly in South Africa, so we are often on an Emirates flight to see the grandchildren Megan 8 and Matthew 17, not to mention to enjoy the sunshine.

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(Brenda and Fred at the Chat’n’Snap 2014)
Brenda and Fred in Dubai

(Brenda and Fred recently in Dubai)

At this time, the most important factor in life is Health and with good health you can enjoy Happiness and Prosperity, which I wish you all for 2015, and do hope that I have not bored the pants off you all !!!!

Footnote:
I would just like to say a very big thank you to Brenda for taking the time to take part in the from Childhood to Sasha Profile. I hope those of you who did not know her, can now feel that you do, and that those who do know her, now know her even better.
Brenda has asked that the two photo’s of Sasha Morgenthaler are not copied as they are her copyright. The photo’s have never been used before and it was wonderful for Brenda to allow me to use them.
( I forgot to mention that Brenda re-strings Sasha dolls and also can give them a spa, should they need it)