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