17 Jan 2019, 6:40am
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The Walworthians: So Cute, Sew Cute Doll Club

The Walworthians

 

A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin

 

 

So-Cute, Sew-Cute Doll Club

August 14, 2003

As the old school bell tolled, beckoning the visiting dignitaries to the 1863, red-brick two-room school house, they smiled at the “students” playing on the old iron swing sets in the play yard and entered to read the welcoming message on the real, slate blackboard.

The class began with a reverent prayer and sincere Pledge of Allegiance to our flag of the United States of America. Then the students sat down to begin reading about Dick and Jane. As it happens, these students are real dolls and their owners who are just antique little girls (also known as Grandmothers), like the way some things used to be!

“Using the theme of “Back to School With Dick and Jane” for our August Doll Club meeting seemed very appropriate,” said Jane Culver, a Palmyra member of the So-Cute, Sew-Cute Doll Club and Recording Secretary for the Col. Wm. Prescott Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. “Our meeting was in the Orleans Community Center which was a two-room, red brick school house for years.”

Culver has lost count of how many Shirley Temple dolls she has, but admitted to “a lot of them”. The original patent was owned by Ideal in 1930, but, other doll makers came out with imitations and called them Little Miss Movie Star dolls.

Dolls were made with cloth bodies and stuffed with sawdust. They were re-released in the 1950’s in connection with the re-releases of the Shirley Temple movies; and again in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Each time there is a release, collectors will try to get a sample for their own collection.

Culver’s Temple doll in near-mint condition Is Little Miss Colonel.  Although she is missing her hat, she has her original socks, shoes, dress and even under-wear.

Many of the Doll Club members make clothes for their dolls and will perform minor surgery on “injured” dolls. The phrase “so-cute, sew-cute” can often be heard during meetings when they show and tell about their doll’s outfits, adventures and heritage, which is how the club got its name.

Barb VanHanegen of Clifton Springs, belongs to the So-Cute, Sew-Cute Doll Club as well as the Federated E. Bloomfield Doll Club and has several doll collections. When she retired from nursing six-years ago, she became interested in finding her childhood dolls and the ones she could have had. She started attending doll shows, auctions and garage sales searching for the Saucy Walker doll she had when she was about 8- or 10-years old. Along the way she began her collection of Fashion Dolls of the 50’s. It includes, among others, Miss Revlon and Toni. The other collection she calls Play Dolls of the 2000’s includes the American Girl dolls and Gutz dolls of Baldwinsville.

When Robert Connor issued a re-make of her 1950 Betsy McCall doll, she knew she had to have it, also. She admits that she’s paid anywhere from less than a $1 at a garage sale to “about $190″ for one doll.

She enjoys finding period fabric for her dolls and making them outfits appropriate for that era.

Oh, Dear Gussie, I can just see how this August meeting of the Doll Club ended: The Dick and Jane Readers were carefully put back on the shelf, the extra refreshments were put into their hampers, the room swept and the chairs straightened. The blackboard was erased, and maybe someone even went out back to clap the erasers clean. Then each antique little girl lovingly tucked her dollie under her arm to leave the old school house with a smile on her face and warmth in her heart.