Jody

 

This is Jody. She's just another old doll, but when I hear the name "Jody" a whole heart full of feelings and memories returns to me because Jody is my childhood baby doll. She was made by Horsman in 1961 and she's a perfect size for little girls to love. Which I did.

I don't consciously remember playing with her. My memories are more emotional than mental. It's obvious that I did play with Jody a LOT. Her vinyl is discolored, yellowed, bruised. Her hair is almost all worn off. Her body is fragile and falling apart. Her face is still pretty. I am glad that my mother taught us to respect our toys. Jody still has nice lashes and face color and there are no ink scribbles on her.

Jody has had an appendectomy, however, because my brothers used her as a football one day when I was at school. I came home to find Mom mending my doll and all the boys were in bed without supper, for punishment. Apparently it was a Very Serious Crime to damage Jody, and I was very impressed.

I think Mom understood how important Jody was because of her own childhood doll, whose name is simply "Dolly." Dolly is a generic compo doll with a slight resemblance to Shirley Temple. Dolly was loved and loved and played with, and considering that she is compo it is amazing that she still exists. Composition dolls must be more durable than I thought. Grandpa had to restring Dolly countless times, but she survived Mom's childhood in spite of everything. Then, like so many childhood dolls, she lay in a trunk for years as a forgotten treasure.

 

 

One year the family decided to have Dolly restored without letting Mom know about it. I took her from Mom's trunk and we paid a good sum to have her feet and hands and nose repaired, and a new wig applied. I made a very elaborate gown for Dolly. The whole family contributed to the expense of Dolly's repair, so when Christmas came around she was the "special" gift from everyone. All this time, Mom had not noticed Dolly's absence from the trunk. So, when she opened up her gift on Christmas, the shock and surprise were absolute. She cried.

Ever since, we have referred to that particular Christmas gift as the ultimate. We try to top it, but we doubt that we ever will be able to do better than the year we repaired Dolly.

Many girls give away (or throw away) their dolls when they become teenagers. They do it willingly, anxious to shed their childhood years and grow up into womanhood. I gave all my dolls away (including some rare vintage Barbies... aaach!) But, Mom would not let me give Jody away. She said I would want that doll and I needed to keep her. So, I did.

When I was a teenager I tried to repair Jody, who badly needed it. I made a clumsy attempt to stabilize her head (which was falling off) and I added additional stuffing. We were very poor at the time and I had no money, so I stuffed her with fabric scraps leftover from my sewing projects rather than buy some batting to stuff her with.

Eventually, Jody went into a storage box and was forgotten for many years.

Recently I refurbished Jody again because now I have the skill to do it. I reattached her head securely, and when I did, I discovered the fabric scraps inside. I was a bit surprised to find them there. I pulled out handful after handful of colorful fabric pieces and sat there with them in my lap, transfixed. I remembered sewing these fabrics and making clothing with them. An entire decade of my life came flooding back into memory. I could touch, feel, smell and see my years of the 70's in those colorful scraps.

Jody herself draws me even further back into time, into the decade of my childish self. In touching her, I can remember who I was, where I was as a little girl. Those years are so far gone that sometimes I wonder if I was ever that young. Jody is my reassurance that indeed, I was.

When I hold Jody, touch her, hold her arm-- it is like stepping into Narnia and finding myself in a pleasant, magical and loving place. She is the tangible "magic ring" that allows me transport to another world so long gone.

And, those early years were significant for who I am now, as well. I made choices, and events happened that, even then, were determining my course and destiny. Jody helps me remember who I was, how it started... how I got here, now.

I think that my mother was very wise in protecting Jody as she did. I think that if a little girl has not chosen a favorite doll, she should be encouraged to do so. And, do not allow her to throw that doll away as she grows past the need for it. Because she will need her Jody again some day, and no other doll will be quite the same.    

 

Recently I found a doll that looks just like Jody, but she does not interest me. This look-alike is not MY doll. She is not the one who has been with me all these years. Jody's bruises are MY bruises: we did childhood together and I was just as banged up as she was. (I remember big scabs on my knees because I fell with my bike too many times, and I still have the scars to prove it.) Jody's hair is thin because I was the one who loved her too much. She was used as a football by MY brothers. Her appendectomy patch was put there by MY mother, who can barely thread a needle but was determined to repair the tragedy before her little girl got home to find out about it.

The mod flower-power fabric scraps inside of Jody are still there and will ALWAYS be there. Like Raggedy Ann, Jody has secrets inside her heart that she does not tell to anyone but me.

And now, I have told some of them to you.

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