Some of the Best Times of Our Lives
Sometimes, three or four times per year, Ann and I would come into Springfield, Mo. And go "doll greeding." Sometimes this meant taking a cab from Wal-Mart to K-Mart, to Toys'r-Us. Obviously, we had more money then than I do now. But at other times when we were in town we went to a shop run by a lady everyone called Miss Alice. She and her mother worked their and Miss Alice had Zillions of dolls! Most of them were Barbies, and occasionally she had a Jem, Maxi and Robbie, or a celebrity or Disney doll.
The trips to stores were sneak attacks, because I wasn't supposed to Touch anything. Ann would look around for unusual dolls and describe them to me. Then she'd hook one with her cane, if it was too high to reach, and one of us Nearly always caught the box on the way down. "Good Save". Steps one (finding some unusual doll) and step two, (Touching the box, Or snagging it) accomplished!
Of course, it wasn't necessary to snag a box too often, the kids had to be able to Grab them, after all.
Then came the tricky part. Look around, is it Mission Impossible? Figure out how the box is Supposed to open. Is it tabs along the side, each securely taped down into its slot? (Needs Careful handling, 007.) Or is it a tab in the top or just tape, (yeah, a key will do the trick, If you don't get caught!)
Actually all of this unnecessary drama was nerve racking, most of the time. I cqall it Unnecessary because it would have been So Much Easier to simply explain to a power that be that I am blind and only wanted to touch the face and hair of a few dolls. We made sure to clothes boxes in Just the way they were Supposed to open, whenever possible. We Never Took any doll Or anything from a doll's box. If we couldn't close the box Exactly as it had been, we closed it securely, so it looked like it hadn't been opened.
Ann described the doll's general look, hair, eyes if she could see them, and clothes. I nearly always Just touched the face and hair, to see if the doll fit my idea of what I wanted or needed.
If I couldn't decide, we put the doll's box in the cart until we were through looking. Then we went through them one at a time, and decided which were affordable with the funds available. That was nerve racking, too.
Each of us came to recognize "That tone in your voice" which meant the other one Really felt attracted toward a particular doll, really Wanted it. "Now before we check out, are you Sure you don't want to get . . . You've got that Tone in your voice" etc.
We would come home exhausted from our spy runs and take our time, resting and opening doll boxes to examine our purchases slowly and deliberately. Then we went, each to her room, and either stayed up redressing the doll/s, re-styling their hair, or just setting them up where we wanted them to live in our rooms.
But then there were trips to Miss Alice's shop! Ann and I would go there when ever both Miss Alice and we had a chance to look around for at Least a couple of hours. Miss Alice opened boxes herself, to make sure it was done right, and then allowed me to touch the Whole doll, on its box liner. She soon learned that I would touch dolls very gently, and with clean hands, so that no one could tell the doll Had been touched. We would make two piles, the "I'm not sure" pile and the "Yes" pile. Before I made a final decision, we'd always go through them again. Those not purchased by us would be closed up by Miss Alice and her trusty roll of Scotch Tape.
Those were some of the Best times of my life, and when Ann was not in too much pain, of her life, too.
Ann loved to look around at all of the dolls. She favored certain kinds, to buy. Others, she just enjoyed seeing. And she helped look for unusual ones, as did Miss Alice, for me. In this way I found Bohemian Barbie, with the cool cherry red hair and interesting clothes, Byron Lars' "In the Lime Light" which I like a lot, except for that fur so tight feeling around her neck, and Banee, Jem, Rosa Exotica by Bob Mackey, the kente cloth Barbies, and more. What was especially cool was that I could ask Miss Alice questions like, "What would you say are Asian Barbies with the face Least like the usual Kira face?" Among her dolls at the time were a roller blading Kira, and the old DOW from Korea. These both have Kira-like faces, to touch, but did not Look the same.
Miss Alice sold her shop which is now online and in another part of the state. But I will never forget the happy and nosy hours of discovdery Ann and I spent in her shop.
There Really Isn't a way to put into words how much fun we Had! Thank You Ann, and Miss Alice, and your mom, Dorothy.