Mary Dorothy, a Christmas Doll

Mary D-1
In 1938, my parents, my little sister, Shirley, and I were living in a rented flat on Elm Street in downtown Cincinnati.  The building is still standing and I posed for a picture back in 2002.

The door stoop of our two-room apartment on Elm Street (2002)
The door stoop of our two-room apartment on Elm Street (2002)

My father worked for the WPA as a timekeeper and we were finally coming out of the depths of the depression.  The living room of the flat had huge sliding wooden doors and on Christmas Eve, my sister and I (3-1/2 years and 6 years) sat with our eyes glued on that door and imagining what Santa might be bringing us.  As we sat huddled together in the kitchen, I heard a tinkling of sleigh bells.  My father argued a little bit with me, but I swore I heard sleigh bells so Santa must have arrived.  Finally, he pulled open the doors and it was like walking into the toy department of a big store (like the Fair Store or Rollman’s or Shillito’s).  My parents didn’t wrap any of the gifts but rather had them set up all around the room, ready for fun.  The first thing Shirley and I spied were beautiful baby dolls for each of us in little metal strollers.  The dolls were dressed identically in white dresses and white flannel coats with bonnets.  We were able to tell them apart because my doll had dark brown eyes (as I had) and Shirley’s doll had her shade of blue eyes.  They were the most beautiful dolls we had ever seen.

Mary D-2
I named my doll Mary Dorothy after two of my classmates at old Raschig School – Mary Louise McFarland and Dorothy Sutton.  Shirley just called her doll Baby until later on when we had a new cousin named Carol Ann and then the doll became Carol Ann, too.

Twenty-five years passed and Shirley asked for Mary Dorothy to add to her doll collection.  I knew in Shirley’s care, Mary Dorothy would be dressed impeccably and would be in elite company in my sister‘s collection.  She stayed there for over 40 years until 2004 when she was given to my youngest granddaughter, but I had to promise to sew the clothes to dress her as she looked on that first Christmas Eve.

Mary Dorothy and my granddaughter - 2004
Mary Dorothy and my granddaughter – 2004

Before Shirley passed away in 2010, she gave my granddaughter her doll, Carol Ann, as well as the rest of the collection.

My granddaughter, age 10, and Mary Dorothy, age 75 - 2013
My granddaughter, age 10, and Mary Dorothy, age 75 – 2013

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

14 thoughts on “Mary Dorothy, a Christmas Doll”

  1. Wow, Lillian, what a story. I’m so glad you shared that. How lucky your granddaughter is to have the dolls, especially Mary Dorothy. I’m so impressed that she’s in such good condition, too. What a very special story.

  2. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story about your family and those very special baby dolls. Mary Dorothy is sure to have a good home for the next 75 years!

  3. What a lovely story and such wonderful memories for you. How I wish I had my childhood Hoyers but they were lost in a hurricane.

  4. Lillian, how precious! I’m so glad that Mary Dorothy will continue to be a part of your family. I have kept a few dolls, but only one is as old as yours. It is a little black baby that fits into the palm of my hand. Of all my dolls he is the one I love the most, and I don’t even know his history.

  5. A lovely story from your childhood. The picture of your granddaughter with the baby doll made me look twice, was she real, or a doll also? Happy Holidays to you and your lovely family.

  6. What a wonderful story about you, your doll and your family. I’m sure you are missing your sister. It is great that the memories of her will live on and…you, too 🙂 . Lillian, she is a beautiful doll. Take care!

  7. What a wonderful heirloom to pass on to the next generations, Lillian! I hope you’ve told your granddaughter the story or be sure that she reads this post. It is do important to keep those memories alive for future generations.
    God Bless your parents for giving you such wonderful Christmas memories!


    p.s. I still have my bride doll from a long ago Christmas!

  8. How wonderful that your granddaughter has your dolls! Amazing that they are in such good shape. I don’t know what happened to my dolls, but I do have some of the doll clothes as well as one of my mother’s dolls from around 1920. I also have a doll from my mother’s sister who died around 1910 from scarlet fever and I’m fixing up a new (old) doll bed for her. Eventually, I want to make some nice clothes for both of these dolls

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