I am excited to announce that I am approaching my 10th year of blogging! And since the 90s dolls are the new releases (from now until April 6th at least! haha!) I thought I’d do one more 90s throw back post.
I used to get strep throat a lot when I was a kid. I hated going to the doctor to get a throat culture test because my gagging reflex was so strong I’d almost throw up. (My mom thought I was being overdramatic but I wasn’t.) One time when I was eight years old, I was at the doctor’s waiting for my throat culture test and feeling utterly miserable. My mom pulled out Meet Molly that she had gotten from the library and started reading it to me. Suddenly my world of misery disappeared. I was in Molly’s world and Molly was just like me! When the doctor came in I actually wanted that test so that I could get back to reading Meet Molly. I finished the book on my own and saw that last page of the book showing three gorgeous dolls and one of them was Molly. Attached to that page was a postcard to send in to get a catalog. But no way was my mom going to allow me to rip up a library book page! I so wanted that catalog but I wanted to read the rest of Molly’s series even more. I ran to the library so many times, swallowing up Molly’s, then Samantha’s, Felicity, Kirsten’s and Addy’s and I read them over and over and over.
My next door neighbors, who were like grandparents to my sister and I, somehow found out that I was loving these American Girl books so much and they got me two catalogs. Not only could I see the dolls in full two page actual size spread outs, but they had outfits and accessories that matched their stories exactly. Their worlds had come alive! I spent agonizing hours pouring over the catalogs, nearly memorizing the descriptions. Eyeing every detail of Samantha and Molly. IF my family would ever come into money I could not decide if I wanted Molly or Samantha, because of course, I could never get two. An $82 doll at that time was a million dollars to me and I knew even getting one would probably never happen. I wanted Molly because I related to her most; the squabbles with her siblings, the competitiveness she felt at games even between friends, her loneliness, her everyday-ness, the empathy she had for others. She wore glasses just like me too! And I’d never seen a doll wearing glasses before.
But Samantha was everything I wanted to be. She was the most kind, generous, and selfless person who was still full of fun outdoor adventure like climbing trees and going boating in a storm! She was so brave and kept such a cool head during life threatening events. She was strong and sure about standing up for others, especially her friends, even if they were servants. She was graceful, beautiful and elegant but so humble. I loved even her name and wished my parents would’ve called me Samantha instead of Heather.
One time at Christmas my family went to my uncle and aunt’s house in Iowa for Christmas. My cousin Rachel was older than me and I’d found out she had a Samantha doll. My mom said if I asked she’d probably show her to me. I would get to see a real true Samantha doll in real true life! I remember going to Rachel and asking to see her. Rachel led me to her bedroom and I sat on the bed, barely breathing with such anticipation. I was surprised to see her go to her dresser and open a drawer and rummage around and pull out poor Samantha and hand her to me.
I gasped for two reasons. One, that I was actually holding her, and two, that this was such a terrible travesty of a tragedies that she was being kept in a dresser drawer! I wanted…I didn’t just want, I NEEDED to rescue her and save her and take her out of this terrible suffocation. I looked at this poor Samantha. Her hair had been taken out of its proper half ponytail and was very disheveled from being in a dresser full of clothes. If I ever get a real Samantha doll, I’ll NEVER take her hair out, I thought, I wish I could take you home and rescue you. You would NEVER live in a dresser drawer with me. You’d have a real home. You’d sleep right next to me. You’d never be forgotten…
I never have remembered and still don’t remember another Christmas even longer ago than that, probably when Rachel had first gotten that Samantha doll, that I’d held her in a very tight hug. It looks like I might be 4 in this picture of me holding Rachel’s Samantha….?
That’s my little sister in the carrier….yeah, no memory at all. I do, however, have to eat my words about suffocating dolls, because anytime my dolls travel, they get treatment that’s far more embarrassing than being suffocated in a dresser drawer. The dolls with straight hair get their heads wrapped up in my underwear, the dolls with curly hair get wrapped in tissue paper and plastic bags and then they get buried in clothes, snacks, cereal, and any and everything else I’m taking on the trip and they get stuffed in a suitcase!
(We’re traveling today so I thought I’d take a pic:)
That is the only time I ‘abuse’ my dolls!
For two years I continued reading the AG books and studying the catalogs. Every night I’d open the catalog two page spread of Samantha and place it on the floor right next to my bed. It was my nightly wordless plea to my parents for this doll when they tucked me in. Because I had at least decided on Samantha. Finally in 1996 when I turned 10, the same age as the characters in the books, my mom came up to me and told me she was willing to get me Samantha for Christmas but it wouldn’t just be her. She was going to tell our whole family and ask them to help contribute money towards her because this was a MOST extremely expensive Christmas gift. And, it would be my one and only Christmas gift that year.
I was MORE than glad to agree. I didn’t want anything else and I would’ve given anything and everything I would’ve gotten to have Samantha anyway. So this was a complete total joy! (My mom didn’t seem to understand that feeling I had because she would remind me of that ONE and only Christmas gift and not to be disappointed when or if my sister Hillary got a lot of Christmas gifts. She reminded me another time that my other family members wouldn’t be giving me Christmas gifts either because they were contributing money towards her. And I would respond with all my heart, “That’s fine, Mom!!”)
After much anticipation and joy, Christmas day finally arrived and I immediately spotted my Samantha box on my side of the Christmas tree and almost fell down the stairs in my hurry to get to her. Not that that made much difference because, like all our family members, I wasn’t allowed to open any present until my mother had gone to the bathroom, gotten her cup of coffee, searched for whatever she was missing and stalled for everything under the sun (I’m SURE she did this on purpose! Every year!) And this year, was especially excruciating, but the joy of getting to hold the wrapped box, knowing exactly what was inside, kept me as patient as I could be on the outside.
I remember unwrapping her and seeing that even though she wasn’t exactly like the doll in the catalog – her eyelashes were shorter, her hair was a tiny bit messier, her eyes had a very slight lopsided look, she was the most beautiful, wonderful and very best Christmas present I could ever have owned. I loved her with all my heart! I held her to pieces (just like Samantha did with Clara in her Christmas story!) and was even allowed to take her to church with me!
I loved her so much that I didn’t mind one bit that Hillary had gotten two dolls that Christmas. My Aunt Kathy bought her a Bitty Baby doll in case she’d feel left out that I got an AG doll and she didn’t. And my parents got her knock off doll named Natalie who came with a book and a doll size violin also in case Hillary felt left out or jealous. (Hillary told me later she never felt jealous or left out). And sadly within a few years, poor Natalie developed the green sickness (her vinyl turned green).
Besides going to church, I took her to our family Christmas gathering at my Grandma’s house:
After Christmas with my Grandma, we went to my Uncle Frank and Aunt Kathy’s house. We had a lovely time there and when present opening time came I was utterly shocked to see my uncle plop a very big box on my lap!
“But I’m not supposed to get any other presents this year!” I cried.
Uncle Frank winked and said, “Well, this is part of your one and only present.”
“Besides, we didn’t contribute!” Aunt Kathy said.
I unwrapped it and was even more confused because it was a big blue and white box that had a handle on it of –
“Subway sandwiches!?! Sandwiches for Samantha???”
“Well, she gotta eat sometime! Don’t she?” my uncle laughed.
“Open it!” Aunt Kathy said.
I opened it, and for the second time that day, I could not breathe. My dearest, wonderful aunt had sewed an entire wardrobe for Samantha! Complete with a quilt!! A most beautiful quilt with the most beautiful clothes. I thought they were even better than the catalog clothes! This play dress was my favorite of the handmade outfits because it was a two piece and the pinafore had purple heart shaped buttons and adorable rick rack on the bottom!
That was one of the best Christmases and the most memorable one too! But the next year I had another incredible Christmas. I loved Samantha so very much, but after some months I wished that she could have a friend. She had arrived in two boxes. Her white ‘meet’ box came inside the mailing box. I saved both boxes. Her mailing box became her wardrobe. I drew doors on the flaps and stuck holes and a dowel in it to hang her clothes. The top of her meet box became her bed and the bottom of it became her table. And I made a little ‘house’ for her in my room and it was so much fun and so wonderful but sometimes I could just tell she was awfully lonely all by herself. Especially when I had to go to school.
So, I again, sent out the wordless plea, this time spreading out Molly’s two page catalog spread every night by my bed. I did not hope and pray like I had with Samantha because I wished I weren’t such a greedy girl as to have to have two dolls, but oh, did I want Molly. That year on Christmas day, I ran halfway down the stairs and stopped, sat down on a stair and peered through the banisters because unlike when I got Samantha, I didn’t see a doll shaped box among my pile of presents. I couldn’t help feeling a big lump of disappointment plunge into the bottom of my stomach. I tried hard to not let it show as Hillary and I took turns opening our presents.
Finally there was one present left that I hadn’t opened. It was this strange looking long narrow thing at the very back of the tree. The first thing that came to my mind looking at it were golf clubs. It looked like someone had wrapped up two or three golf clubs to give to me. Because of this, I expected it to be heavy and was very surprised to feel it so light. I started unwrapping it and started giggling because my mom had stuff balls of newspaper around a box and wrapped them! And this box….this box was no ordinary box. This time, instead of being unable to breathe, I started screaming. And I mean, screaming at the top of my lungs to cause my dad to shout, “SHUT UP, HEATHER!” And my mom to scold, “Don’t say that! She’s just really excited!” (We were not allowed to use the words ‘shut up’ in our house) I hadn’t realized how loud my screams were until my dad had shouted. My emotions were so out of control happy I couldn’t contain myself. My dad helped me open the box and there was Molly. And this Molly was in truly PERFECT condition. Looking EXACTLY like the catalog. Because of this, I had to let out one more scream and hear one more shout from my dad that I was screaming right in his ear because he’d helped me with the box, and I was too excited to realize my close proximity to him. (whoops)
At last at last Samantha had a friend. Samantha, who had been watching all this present opening from the top of the couch, was pulled down and put on the living room chair with Molly so they could get to know each other and I could just sit there and watch them and imagine what they were saying to each other.
Molly moved in to the corner of my bedroom and shared her ‘room’ with Samantha. For many years I was so happy with my two dolls. And so thrilled that the next year after Molly, my parents bought me Samantha’s table and chairs. If you’re a new reader to this blog, I’m sure you’re asking, did you save Samantha and Molly? Do you still have all those outfits and the quilt? Do you still have that subway box? Do you still have Samantha and Molly’s meet boxes? Yes and yes and yes to all! I was one of those (and still pretty much am) who cannot throw away anything AG. Even if it’s broken.
There was only one period in my life that Samantha and Molly got ‘put on hold.’ When I went to college they waited for me with produce bags on their heads to keep out the dust. But now they’re in their own doll room in my apartment and I thought it would be so fun to show them to you today. These are all the outfits my Aunt Kathy made:
Ruthie is wearing the school dress that may have been made for Molly (I can’t remember). I love that sailor outfit of Sam’s! Nellie is in my favorite play dress. Beth is in her Christmas dress which sometimes transitions to a Valentine’s Day dress because there are white hearts going up and down the dress. McKenna is wearing the cloak that I have been known to turn inside out for Halloween for doll to dress as a devil.
This is the beautiful quilt she made. It’s sitting on a baby bed (that can also become a bunk bed) my mom played with as a little girl.
Claudie’s bath robe is one of the oldest doll outfits I own. My Grandma Dot made it for my mom to dress her dolls when she was a girl. Lily, Lydia and Kathy (yes, I named her after my aunt!) are dressed in outfits my other grandma made.
My Samantha is still in beautiful shape. I have never taken her hair totally down. I’ve certainly had to redo her hair because the rubber band gets old and breaks. I’ve also never fully redone her curls so they’re a little messy but I want to keep them as factory-made as possible.
Molly is in almost pristine condition from the day I got her despite me playing with her so much and taking her on dangerous excursions like row boating on real lake in a boat that leaked! Her hair has also never been totally out of it’s original braids, although like Samantha I have redone them. The only sad thing that happened was a number of years ago, Molly decided to take a dive from a very high entertainment center when I still lived with my parents. She landed face first and from then on, her glasses have always been crooked on her face.
What are your oldest dolls?