The Revlon dolls were gifts to my mother in her childhood. They were her favourite dolls. My grandmother never really believed in keeping things hidden away or protected, because if it was a toy, then it was meant to be played with. They saw storage until my sister was old enough to play dolls and they were not packed up again until we inherited them from my grandmothers estate.
All of their accessories were mixed in with Barbies over the years, and my sister and I would use their clothing for Barbie, even if it wasn’t an ideal fit. Doll playing is 90% pretend afterall, so Barbie could magically fit into this or that beautiful 50s dress because of imagination. Our brother even threw some down the stairs or had his GI Joe or Star Wars action figures attack them. But, for 60-something year old dolls who saw all of the action, they have held up really very nicely.
I did keep one, my favourite, with a cobbled together outfit, whose hairstyle I’ll have to repin and who will always have a smudge mark on her chin and neck from whatever fabulous adventure which she endured in the past. I had to use some pliers to remove the broken stem of her earring; her earlobe forever marred by the decay of metal over time. I kept her, well… as a momento to times past, my grandmother, and my mother.
I have not played with these dolls since I was about twelve, which has been almost 25 years, but with my mothers go-ahead to part these dolls on into someone else’s life, play then resumed. My sister and I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon undressing and dressing various dolls, not just the Revlon ones, in an effort to match appropriate clothes so she could later take photos. One Revlon doll, the Blonde, fell apart in our hands, but she was always on display in a handmade outfit in the room that my aunt would use while at home on a visit. She spent, I don’t know how many years up on this little wooden shelf, exposed to elements, as opposed to the other girls who spent all of their time in a green vintage suitcase in a walk-in closet, which was officially known as The Barbie Room, where all of the play dolls were kept.
I suppose that there is some lesson to be gleaned from this in a round-about way. It’s that shoving your 1950s dolls in a suitcase for storage and having the grandkids play with them is far better in saving them for future generations than in preserving one, without play, on a shelf. You can make of it what you will. I’m thinking that keeping them in the original box, in a larger box in an area of the main home (to the attic or the basement) would be ones best bet at preservation… but then, I wouldn’t have all of the lovely memories surrounding these particular dolls if that had been the case in my family, and I’m sure that my mother wouldn’t be nearly as fond of them, had she not been allowed to play with them.
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