Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Way back "when" there were Paper Dolls - a journey of nostalgia

Way back when as the saying goes when an older person begins to weave a tale of days gone by, pictures of the mind drift across our memories as we recall moments when we were seated on the floor, seated at the table, playing on our bed, or playing at a friends or having a friend over to play with yourself.

Yes, way back when....

You see, while it isn't considered good form for a lady to speak of one's age outright, we can allude to it. Now, I'm not saying how far back this Southern Lady's memory journey will take her, but let's just say that "there be paper dolls in the memory pictures."

For those of you unfamiliar with the "toys" that are paper dolls, suffice it to say that is just what they are - dolls made of paper. Flat. Not real-life-like at all. And easy to mess up with an unwanted tear or rip. Or just outright being worn to a frazzle.

Usually a "paper doll" was a character - child (boy or girl), pre-teen, teen, family group, celebrity. Lots of choices. The "paper doll" was actually cardboard and had extended tabs attached to its feet so they could stand up.

They usually had their undies drawn on them and had an assortment of clothes that you would cut out with scissors (be careful there, a slip and the tabs could get cut off). It was important that the child that wanted to play with paper dolls learn to cut right on the line and cut carefully around the tabs. You see, those tabs on the shoulders and tabs along the side are what held the clothes on the paper doll when you wished to dress them up.

Play time was not limited to dressing these dolls in their paper clothes. Oh no. Sometimes the selection came with a bit of furniture you could cut out and bend, fold, and glue together.
Furniture was a treat to have because paper dolls, their clothes, and their furniture was always glamorous. Our home was not glamorous and so this wandering into pretend land was always fun.

There were other ways to play "paper dolls," too. Take an old Sears, Speigel, or Montgomery Ward catalog and cut out your "dolls" from the lovely pictures. Then you glue these dolls onto some cardboard. Now the trick of dressing them was a bit different. You usually had to create your own "designer clothes" for them by tracing their form and drawing a dress or outfit on plain paper. Then you colored it. We would also fold cardboard into the shape of chairs, sofas, and beds and cover them with scraps of paper to create our own furniture.

So we've journeyed into the land of paper dolls and I've seen myself as a child sitting on the floor playing with my paper dolls. I've seen my mother helping me create furniture from scraps for my paper dolls. I've drawn clothes for them out of plain paper and colored them with my crayons.

I've traveled on a journey of nostalgia from the recesses of my mind.


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  2. I looked forward to the Betsy McCall page from McCall's magazine each month & designing dresses for her. Thanks for the trip through memory lane.

  3. Gosh, I remember so well playing with paper dolls. I didn't have very many toys but these were my most precious! I'd pretend that I was the doll and I had all those pretty clothes to wear.. Thanks for reminding me of this time in my life ❤️

  4. I remember going to my grandmothers house every weekend and sitting on the floor for hours cutting up the paper dolls. They were such fun and I loved the time I spent with my grandmother. My face would light up when she brought the magazine out . What great innocent childhood memories. Thanks

  5. Vera, I spent a lot of my time when was little playing paper dolls. But mine were paper. I cut them from mother's Sears and Roebuck catalogues. I had whole families. Also cut out some for clothes changes. I used any boxes I could come up with to make my cars, furniture, etc. I was very careful to not tear them. Many, many hours in the floor with these friends of mine. Maxie

  6. Oh those really were the some of the best times. in addition to the sears catalogs I remember cutting them out of McCalls magazine every month. And it was great fun shopping in the five and dime stores for new ones. Had to save up to have the money to buy them. Thank you for the memories !


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