From Childhood To Sasha (profile number 10)


Now without further ado here is the next profile  and it comes from the lovely Cathy Himmel, enjoy!


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Hello. I am Cathy Himmel.
My family history has 2 stories which includes the well-established land-owners who have been here before there was a United States of America, and the story of relatively more recent arrivals, hoping to, and eventually attaining the “American Dream.”
My mother’s side is primarily German Anabaptists who were being persecuted in Germany and Switzerland, who saw the promise of religious freedom through William Penn’s agents in Europe trying to populate Pennsylvania.  Arriving in as early as 1683, they were patriots who’ve fought along side George Washington in the Battle of Brooklyn, and who joined and fought in the Pennsylvania militia for American independence.  My ancestors are among the original 6 families who established farms in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as land-owners are well documented throughout history.  One ancestor, who volunteered for the union army immediately upon Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers, actually had an audience with Lincoln and Secretary of War Seward upon arriving in Washington DC to protect the city from the south’s rebels.  Most notably, on my mother’s side, former president Dwight D. Eisenhower is my 4th cousin, 3 times removed.
My father’s side are eastern European immigrants from the 1890’s and early 1900’s.  One side is a family of ethnic Croats living in Serbia, who immigrated to Baltimore just months after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.  My great-grandfather Sandor Lukenich evenutally sent for his wife, daughter, in-laws, brothers and their families.  He probably couldn’t have come to the USA at a better time, not only was his home in Serbia mere miles away from the first shots of WWI less than a decade out, but also Baltimore was in a gargantuan re-building era and he was able to rebuild a life along with it and within 40 years not only had his own successful, thriving business. He also owned a summer home on the Chesapeake Bay.  An extended family estimated today to be well over 250 people owe their lives in the U.S. to my great-grandfather Sandor Lukenich, who struck out on his own, leaving behind everyone in Serbia for a better life in America.
Fast forward to the year 1953 when my parents Ken and Fay were married.  My mom was a home maker. My Dad worked for the B&O Railroad handling waybills and data processing, this was his launch into computers and systems design. It was also during 1953 when my Dad was drafted into the U.S. Army and served a couple years. I was born in 1954 at the Ft. Meade Army Hospital, the eldest of three.  My Dad moved on to working in computer programing as Systems Design Engineer with Olin Chemicals, the Department of the Navy as well as Social Security where he retired, however continued to work as an independent contractor until 1995.
Cathy with parents 2.5 years old
(Above Early photo of me when I was two and a half with my mom and dad at the Shore on the Chesapeake Bay.)
I had a happy childhood and can reference my parents similar to the television characters Ward and June Cleaver. Now, it may not have been that way all the time. But I was a mere child and not mindful of adult difficulties. My fondest memories were of our summers at the shore on the Chesapeake Bay which my great grandfather Lukenich owned. Spending the summers with several cousins, swimming, catching the Maryland blue crabs, walking to the well known beach club called Kurtz’s where I would play the nickel slot machines, at an age younger than 10 and buy candy with my winnings.
family christmas gathereing
(Above An early photo of my family around Christmas. I am sitting on my uncle’s lap holding a Barbie Doll.)
Dolls have always been a part of my life. I remember having all those popular dolls, Patty Play Pal, Chatty Cathy, Thumbelina and of course Barbie. Our house was small and I had to share my bedroom with my sister Carol, who was 5 years younger than me. We fought like cats and dogs all the time. Carol would always get into my dolls which would cause a world war.  My sister and I had a very strained relationship growing up, but is not the case now that we are much older. Funny how life changes things. My brother Kenny, the middle child got along with everyone, he was always so laid back, still to this day. He is the one who has been actively researching our ancestry coming up with so much history using  Anyway, although I loved my dolls, I was not one to sit and play with them very long as I was a bit rambunctious, I loved to play outdoors and climbing trees. I also was not one to sit and study. I hated school and just wanted to play. We lived in 5 different homes by the time I graduated from high school.
After high school, I chose not to continue my education and got a job working with the State of Maryland in the claims department of an auto insurance company.
My husband and I met in the summer of 1977 at a boat party of a friend where there were lots of Maryland Blue Crabs and beer to be had. My husband and I were married in 1979 in a very small country church with only a small gathering of family and friends.  My husband Leo is a Systems Engineer for the Rail Industry. However, he started his career at the very bottom, digging ditches on the railroad in Washington DC when he was 23 years old. He has gone very far in his career and is highly acclaimed in the rail industry. He has been involved in 13 rail jobs nation wide.  We lived in Maryland and had purchased our second house which had enough room for a growing family.
It was shortly after this time, in 1981 after 28 years of marriage, my parents ended their relationship and divorced. I dearly love both my parents, they gave me so much, and instilled the values I hold today which my husband and I passed onto our children.  It was at this point where my mom, with only an 8th grade education was thrust out into the world and forced to search employment. So with her shoulders back and her chin up, she faced her fears and found that employment. She worked at Maryland Cup then Maryland National Bank until she proceeded to obtain her GED, then worked and retired from the University of Maryland. My mom did all that on her own. I am very proud of her, she is my mentor.
cathy and her mum
 (Above My mentor. My mom loves Sasha too!)
It was the year 1982 when my first child was born, a son we named Charles. Then three years later a second child another son, Matthew. It was in 1986 our daughter graced us with her presence, Beth was born. In five years time it was quite the whirlwind  taking care of three young children.
Kathys daughter Beth
(Above A photo of my daughter Beth surrounded by my collection way back.)
In 1987 my husband took a job in the Boston area, we packed up our three very young children and relocated to Massachusetts. Although I have done my fair share of moving from one place to another as a child, being the adult and a mom, relocating was quite the adventure.
It was during my time in Massachusetts where I found Sasha. And of course as you are all well aware, it never stops at just one. My first Sasha dolls were the Trentons, and it seemed I just couldn’t get enough of them. I wasn’t happy with just having a Sasha doll or two or three. I had to learn about them as well. So I purchased the 3 sets of Sasha Charts (my Sasha Bible) from Susanna so that I could learn all about the Sasha dolls. As time went on, I would  admire them, and play with them. But caring for three young children while my husband did extensive traveling nationwide was exhausting, so my Sasha dolls didn’t get the attention back then which they get now.
Cora and horse.jpg
 (Above My early Cora who I have named Truffles and her horse Coffee)
After 17 years passed living in Massachusetts, and after the kids had grown into well respected adults, my husband took a job in Dallas Texas. So Leo and I packed only what we can carry in the “wagon” leaving everything and everybody behind, and moved to Texas. It was this time when my Sasha collection took off. And my desire to reach out to like minded Sasha people took hold. I went on line and found the Yahoo group The Sasha Mart. Most of my Sasha friends know me from the Mart as Cathy in Texas. I was very excited to find so many wonderful Sashaphiles from so many interesting places around the globe. And it holds true even today, these same dear Sasha friends from so many years back are still considered my Sasha friends even though I’m not active at the Mart, I am so happy that we touch base on the FB groups. Over time I purchased Dorisanne’s book Sasha Dolls Through the Years, then Susanna’s book with the two Ann’s, Sasha Dolls Serie Identification. Anne Votaw’s Sasha Dolls the History, and Sasha-Puppen by Benteli Verlag Bern. It was also this time where I realized that I loved photographing my dolls especially the Sasha dolls. I find them so endearing and photogenic.
Piper Autumn.jpg
(Above  Piper Autumn was an inspiration for the 2014 Sasha Festival held in Phoenix )
After five short years in Texas, my husband accepted a job in the Washington DC area. Almost a full circle from where we began way back in 1977. We then picked up and moved back to Maryland. However we only stayed in Maryland for three years before  my husband learned that his office was moving further away, not by much but it was already taking him hours to drive to and from work, so we picked up yet again and moved to Virginia.  A lot of moving in such a short time, I know.
And still my love of the Sasha dolls increases. I have learned quite a lot in over the 20 years of collecting Sasha and still am learning about them. I find it so fascinating that the Sasha dolls are simply not “black and white”. There are so many variations of the Sasha dolls that one will be learning for many years as I have, still seeing and finding the unusual, the unique.
Robin saucer eyed no navel.jpg
 (Above Robin enjoys the autumn weather. Robin is a rare saucer eyed no-navel)
For me, a doll collection doesn’t stop at purchasing a doll and displaying it. I love to create a character, or a mood, photograph, create stories. Play with my photographs to create a different effect.  I also learned that in order to get what I needed out of a photograph I needed to upgrade my camera, I just couldn’t settle and had to have more from my photos.  The more advanced the camera, the less difficult it was for me to attain what I needed to achieve in a photograph. Still, I was not satisfied until just recently when my wonderful husband gave me a very special Nikon which I love and use almost every single day, and I am still learning how to get THAT particular photo I strive for.
 (Above Fall day play with Frankie)
I am honored to have been approached with requests for my photos to be a part of the past Sasha Festivals, thereby being auctioned off, proceeds going to charity.
festival collage
 (Above A collage of the projects I completed for the 2014-15 Sasha festival)
It is such an honor and a great accomplishment for my photos to be considered as art.
Tatum and Tobin course dolls
(Above I have recently acquired a collection of the Course. I love these very unique dolls! A whole new dimension of collection the Sasha Doll. Course Tobin and Tatum  )
Carmen waits
(Above Photo of Sasha called, Waiting.)
course doll
(Above Tobin and his bear day dream, wishing for better weather. )
Tobin cousre doll
(Above This is a very recent photo of my Course Tobin. I just had to include it. Tobin wears a fair Tibetan wig, the breezy this day played on his hair a bit.  With a little bit of imagination, you  can see from his expression that the wind is blowing in his face.)
(Above Black and white of my Studio Hybrid Annika)
(Above Black and White of my Course Alma)
(Above My OOAK Pierrot by Artist Janet Myhill Dabbs.  My Pierrot is lovingly created, Janet’s rendition of the beloved  Pierrot  once owned by Sasha Morgenthaler herself. My pierrot’s name is Pascal)
(Above My Wampanoag.  He is part of a set. I get them out every year during our Thanksgiving. His ensemble was created by Artist Mary Madeco-Smith)
(Above Magill a no navel)
charlies_tree3 (1)
(Above Charlie climbs a tree)
Charlie xmzs card
(Above Holiday Charlie)
Lissanne snow day
(Above Snow day with LissAnne)
charlie snow angel
(Above one of my personal favourites of Cathy’s photos Charlie the Christmas Angel)
studio project
OOAK Lydia by Artist Janet Myhill Dabbs. Farm Girl Lydia was part of Janet’s series her rendition of the Sasha Studio)
(Above My Asian couple Toshi by Janet MyHill Dabbs. And Kayna by Kelly Wenarski)
Piper and Cathy
(Above Piper and Me.  Piper is one of my first Gotz slate eyed girl.)
(Above Annika’s profile photo)
Shelly studio doll and cathy
 (Above Shelly and me. Shelly is Studio IV. I love this mold as she appears to have that “Mona Lisa” smile.)
I have many special people to thank for this particular journey of mine from my mom, husband, and daughter, who have given me support which enabled me to achieve a higher expectation. Also to so many wonderful Sasha people who have given me insight as well as helped me to achieve my goals.
shelly studio doll
(Above  Shelly B&W all original. )
Annika studio hybrid
Annika and me. Annika is my Studio hybrid. )

I also feel honored to be a part of Theresa’s “From Childhood to Sasha” profile with so many well established Sashaphiles. Thank you.


Foot Note:

Cathy thank you so much for sharing you story with us. I love your photos and look forward to seeing many more.

Please do not copy or download any of Cathy’s photos without her permission.


  1. Thank you so much Cathy (and of course Theresa) for this wonderful profile and glimpse into your life. I was fascinated by your family history and how so many helped to shape the history of America! Like me your love of dolls has never left you and it was so interesting to read how your collection has evolved over the years to the fabulous and diverse one it is today. Your photos are a source of inspiration and I’m sure your photo stories have inspired many collectors to give their own Sasha dolls a name and character. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting doll collecting autobiography, Cathy. I was glad to see the last picture of your hybrid Course Doll Annika, who visited me briefly in Cincinnati, and she’s wearing the tag I designed for Janet Myhill Dabbs. I feel a part of your final, very nice photograph. Question: Are you attending SF 2016 in Rochester? If so, I’d love it if someone put on an exhibit of re-invented & hybrid Sasha Dolls, including Janet’s, Mary’s, Kelly’s, Shelly’s, Chris’s, Jackie’s, Pine Street’s, etc. I’ve spoken to Ginger M. about the idea, as well at Heidi W., but I have not passed the idea onto Sheila Foery because, while willing to help with it, I want the younger Sasha lovers and attendees to be inspired by setting up exhibits. I’ve seen examples of these remakes in numerous collections, including Heidi’s, Anne Santucci’s, Ann Chandler’s early 1980s Asian (one of the first), and my collection, and in the many wonderful photographs shown in our group’s face book. I know that interest in these dolls is high, but it hasn’t always been. My suggestions would be a bit of research to ground the exhibit, such as, 1. a name founded (hybrid Sashas, re-inverted, remakes, etc.) so we Sashaphiles can in common call these dolls; 2. analysis of the cause of the heightened interest (Heidi has a good handle on this); 3. Earliest available to latest, grouped by Sasha artists; 4. and a bit of background on each of the designers stated on a card.

    In fact, Sheila Foery, a short program could be centered around the display, with time allowed in the schedule afterwards for photography and questions.

    BUT, I’m getting to old to undertake such a program or exhibit and DO NOT want to be in charge, although if asked, I will help in planning or with any part of it. One of our younger-than-I people, who has sufficient energy and time, should take it on and begin planning now, if Sheila Foery wants to include this idea in the 2016 exhibit. Please clear the proposal with our hostess before dashing into preparations. Perhaps Janet Myhill Dabbs could be enticed to travel from England and be partially or solely in charge; although she is very busy until May, I would imagine, getting ready for the Sasha Celebration.

    Okay, enough. I’ll shut up and let the possible event take on a life of its own.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cathy i am flashed and humbled to read your story, and about life history, ! SO let me throw in, you part german, great, smile, thought always your husbands side,himmel is a german i know you know this, so you and family, are from himmel, from heaven above, from skye and great destiny, sure must be, all you,ve done so far and what a great inspiration for all of us and sasha lovers, It was so refreshing to read your story, just wonderful ! how all your life you stoud by your passion the dolls, bears, of course your family, and so many things you give us daily, and your wonderful spirit turns over on us, so much pleasure reading and looking at your artwork and your perfect pictures, and stunning dolls !! thank you so much for sharing cathy, stay blessed !!!


  4. I enjoy seeing people’s favorite dolls and I enjoyed the costumes and clothes which show such interesting designs and styles. My Mom loved dolls and she passed it on to me. Thanks for sharing each one and telling their stories. 💞

    Liked by 1 person

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