Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Raggedy


Every Wednesday over at Thorne Garnet's it is Weird Doll Wednesday where she features a different specimen from her burgeoning collection of dolls in traditional costumes from around the globe.  Name the most obscure country you can think of and I'm sure Thorne has a representative.  Thorne is of course, a costume designer, so such a collection is a perfect archive of design resource and inspiration in all its 3D minutiae glory.

So here is a post dedicated to Thorne and in fact all my US blog friends and readers.  Here representing the United States of America...Raggedy Ann and Andy!  Albeit looking very raggedy indeed.  My mother pulled these dolls out to show me when I was over in Australia for my sister's wedding.  Raggedy Andy belonged to my sister and Raggedy Ann to me.  My father went out to the States when we were toddlers for work and returned with a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll.  We literally loved them to death, dragging them around everywhere until they were so worn that we were eventually bought  replacements.  Yes, these two here are Raggedy Ann and Andy Mark II.

As well as being the very first dolls I remember having as a tiny girl, they were the first ones we had with clothes and that we were able to undress and dress back up again.  Way before I had an inkling who Barbie was, there was Raggedy Ann with her little cotton floral dress and white apron.  Here began early experimentation with clothes on figurines.  Ann lost her dress to a teddy bear eventually and then altogether.  I remember early sewing projects to make her a replacement, first by my mother, and then later by me, none of which have survived, leaving her bereft of any clothes, her candy heart with "I Love You" on display for all to see.   Andy managed to keep his shirt and trousers to this day, probably because my sister always was and still is to this day, less obsessive about fiddling around with clothing.

I remember being a young girl at school and coming across a book about the adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy in the library which had such enchanting illustrations and stories.  I loved it so much that I took it out continuously for weeks.  I was already at an age where I had given up playing with rag dolls for Barbies but I remember the book so captured my imagination, that it reignited an enduring affection for Ann and Andy and even had me returning to play with them along with my sister to re-enact the adventures I'd read.

It was only as an adult that I learnt that they were created in the United States.  I was sad to learn the creator John Gruelle made Raggedy Ann for his daughter Marcella, who then died very young at the age of thirteen.  He went on to write the Raggedy Ann and Andy books in her memory.  Here then am I, now an adult, marvelling at the endurance of a couple of rag dolls over almost four decades and remembering that one of the great joys of childhood was reading this man's stories about them.

I was trying to remember which book it was that I read.  It was just the one.  After some Google searching tonight I think it could have been Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Deep Deep Woods.  If you have a young child this is a beautiful book.

Sadly, this Raggedy Ann and Andy were off to the rag trade, so this photo was our goodbye really, my way of keeping a memento of the wonderful times we once spent together long ago.  My mother, like me, is an overly sentimental creature and has held on to many of our old dolls since we left home as a reminder of all her children.  I could understand she felt she would be saying goodbye to the memory of my childhood if she threw them away, so kudos to her for finally letting Ann and Andy go.
 
If you have a Raggedy Ann and Andy memory I'd love to hear it!

10 comments:

  1. Lovely post - and I didn't know that the creator's daughter died so young - sad. I had a rag doll as a very little girl, but she wasn't really Raggedy Ann. I did read the books though and have fond memories. xo

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    1. I would have loved to have read more of them. I searched everywhere for more books after reading that one, which was the only one in our school library, but never found them, not even in bookshops. It was very different in the days without Amazon!

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  2. I will forever love Raggedy Ann. When I was two, I developed an illness that in the early 1970s was either fatal or caused the child to become a vegetable. Because of instrument failures, they tried experimental treatment on me—and it ended up not only saving me but also solved the disease. When I was released, my doctor gave me a Raggedy Ann doll. It was my lucky charm for many, many years.

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  3. What a sweet person you are. I was in need of some cheering up this evening.

    I had a Raggedy Ann doll when I was a child, I have no idea whatever happened to her.

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    1. Glad to have been able to bring you a bit of cheer then my dear!

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  4. I have a Raggedy Ann doll that my cousin or aunt handmade for me when I was a little girl. I have kept her. She is a memory I don't want to lose. One day I will give her to one of my nieces maybe when they have a little one of their own.

    I had no idea about the story. Thanks for sharing.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. I don't think we could have passed our dolls on to anyone in the state they were sadly. I did feel inexplicably sad that they were being thrown away finally, and yes, like you didn't want to lose the memory of them, hence the photo. Something is more endearing about rag dolls in their simplicity and the memories they evoke of the innocence of childhood. None of my Barbies or Sindys survived as long as Raggedy Ann and Andy did in the house which speaks volumes about their enduring appeal.

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  5. Wow, you brought back memories!! My sister had Raggedy Ann, and I had Raggedy Andy. Perhaps because I was the little sister, I always though her toys had much more cachet than mine. I was very disappointed that I had Andy. After all, as you pointed out, it was possible to create clothes for her. Andy was just a BOY.

    I never had Barbies (they came later) but I did have a handmade rag doll about the same size as Raggedy Ann. Poor Andy languished in a corner while this doll reigned supreme. I still have her. There are smears of my mother's red lipstick on her cloth face. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

    Thank you for this delightful memory from childhood. XXXOOO.

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    1. Jean I never thought of that! My sister was younger than me too and it was entirely possible she was disappointed to have the boy. I should ask her! And yes, now I can see it was probably naturally more interesting for little girls to play dress ups with a doll that had girl's clothes rather than one dressed in boy's clothes. Thanks for your story xx

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