Virginia Davis, Doll Reader
This month the New York Times ran an article on people buying less for their children. It said until recently the average child was receiving over seventy new toys a year and many were receiving as many as two new toys a week.
Parents are now focusing more on quality playthings than a quantity of playthings since their children’s toy chests are running over and even filling the house.
Sometimes “less is more.” As a child I received new toys on my birthday and for the holidays and that was all. A new doll was always part of my collection of gifts, and these dolls were promptly named, introduced to the rest of the doll clan and became treasured playthings.
I still remember sitting on the front porch waiting for my Bonnie Braids doll to arrive. She was supposed to be a surprise birthday gift, but I had overheard my parents talking about buying her from the ad in the Sunday Comics.
Dick Tracey was a Comic strip that ran in The Chicago Tribune during the 1940s and 1950s. Dick Tracy married Tess Trueheart and they had a daughter named Bonnie Braids.
Ideal Toy Company decided to make a doll of Bonnie in 1951. She was the cutest thing! She came in a hard plastic version, but the object of my desire was the Bonnie made from the new soft vinyl called “magic skin.” She had two tiny teeth, two tiny yellow braids and came with a while christening gown and a tiny toothbrush. I cut all the ads for her out of the paper and wished they would accept box tops as payments. Lots of kids at school had purchased toys with box toys.
I just knew my parents had ordered her and every day I would wait on the mailman anxiously anticipating Bennie’s arrival.
The day came at last when the mailman pulled up tour box and got out of his truck carrying a long, oblong box. My heart skipped a beat as I ran to meet him. “Is this what you have been waiting for?” he asked with a smile.
“I think “So,” I told him. I ran back in the house and told my mother a package had come for her.
“Oh, it must be the curtains I ordered, “she said.
She saw the disappointed look on my face, as realized I was going to have to wait for about ten days until my birthday to open the box.
Later when my father came home from work, she told him, “Why can’t Virginia open her present now. She knows it is here and school will start right after her birthday and she could be enjoying the gift now.”
“That will be fine, as long as she realizes that it is her birthday present, and all she will get on her birthday is a cake and some new school clothes.”
I readily agreed to that. So, after dinner mother gave me the box and I opened it. There she was! I remember the smell of the new vinyl almost filled the room. Before that all my dolls had been made of composition or hard plastic and so vinyl was something brand new to me. Every since that day I have always enjoyed opening a new vinyl doll. The same smell is still there although maybe not as strong. The smell always brings back the day Bonnie came into my life. She was filled with cotton and so soft. She became my favorite doll. I read her Dick Tracy and showed her picture in the comics every Sunday. She sat at the dining room table and pretended to share my mother’s special chocolate cake that I loved as much as I did Bonnie.
I took care of Bonnie and slept with her until I left for college. Many of those vinyl dolls mad from the “magic skin” or that earliest vinyl turned black, split and most by now have had the body completely deteriorate. But Bonnie remained strong and with my love endured the years, and now has a special place in her little cradle in my living room.
Perhaps children today are missing that magic of waiting for a special doll and forming a special bond with it. That Is also another good reason for buying quality toys…The dolls will endure over the generations and grandmothers can be relating stories, just like the one I have just told you, about a wonderful doll that came to their house and became a part of the family.