Past Christmas Present: What a Doll

walking-doll-croppedA duct tape collar keeps her head from falling off and her legs are strapped together, never to walk again. Other than that, my 50-year-old dolly is in pretty good shape.

I got her from Santa for Christmas 1966. A Mattel “Baby First Step,” she really was something special. When the crevice in her back was loaded with two D-cell batteries and her “on” switch was flipped, this doll could WALK! She was amazing.

I took good care of her, so much so that the following year, when I took my dolly to kindergarten for show-and-tell, my teacher said she still looked brand new. However, I played with her a lot back then, and as will happen with well-played toys, eventually she played out. Her walking mechanism broke, her legs came loose at the hips, and her plastic-shoed feet deteriorated. I got older and dolly was dismissed, forgotten at the back of the closet.

One Christmas in the mid 1980s when my dolly and I were in our 20s, my mother went on a doll rejuvenation spree — cleaning and redressing several of my sisters’ and my dolls, including my formerly walking dolly. So I reclaimed her, and she’s been back with me ever since.

Today you can find Baby First Step dolls online, even new in the box for upwards of $150 on ebay. Those poor dolls. They were never loved like my dolly. Mine’s not for sale. She’s a precious memory marker for me, not only at Christmas, but all year long.

Laura Sternweis


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