Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Wednesday was traditionally mending day, but Ina was in luck. She only had a few repairs to make on one of Jack’s shirts, and then she would be free to make her plans for Christmas. Big snowflakes fluttered through the air and Ina was in a Christmas mood.

When the mending was finished and put away, Ina pulled Ethel’s letter from her pocket and read it again. “Sadie has been pining over the dolls in the Sears Roebuck catalog. She has her eye on Patsy, but we can’t afford a doll for her this year. Her gifts will be practical things.” Ethel dropped the subject at that, knowing that Ina and Jack didn’t have the resources to buy gifts.  Ina’s philosophy of Christmas giving was to make many somethings from nothing – a “skimpy Christmas” with everyone well remembered.

1928+ F & B Patsy doll, 14" faceOut of curiosity, Ina took her catalog from the shelf and turned to the dolls. She saw the picture of Patsy, but it was no use to think of these things. Her Christmas budget – practically nothing – had to stretch over all holiday gifts and supplies. Still, the desires of the little girl’s heart tugged at her own.

“Any little girl who wants a doll for Christmas should have one,” she thought. Not realizing she had spoken aloud, she was startled when Jack said, “Yes, Ina, I agree. Couldn’t you make her one? You used to do such things for our girls.”

Dolls of an earlier era
Now, Ina didn’t see herself as a clever person. Being a farm wife, she was naturally well-versed in the rural home arts, but she wasn’t artistic or imaginative. However, with Jack’s words of encouragement, Ina felt resolve rising within her. Yes, she could make a doll. And as she pondered that, she remembered her sister Bertha had mentioned a doll pattern in a recent newspaper. Now what was that columnist’s name again? Oh yes – Ruth Wyeth Spears.

Ina stepped to the telephone on the dining room wall. Lifting the receiver from the hook with her left hand, she listened to be sure no one was using the line. Then she purposely rang Bertha’s number by means of the crank on the right side of the box.

Bertha and June; Ina and Jack
Bertha answered right away. The sisters had been close all their lives, Bertha being the elder by two years. Married to twin brothers (Ina to Jack, Bertha to June), they had lived less than half a mile from each other in this farming community for 35 of the 40 years they had been married. Bertha answered cheerfully and would have enjoyed a good gossip, but Ina indulged her only to say that Ethel and Ernest, and of course little Sadie, were coming for Christmas. By divulging that information over the phone, Ina knew she was telling the community at large, but she didn’t really mind.
Jack and June (or June and Jack)

Did Bertha still have that clipping about making a rag doll, Ina asked. Yes, she had saved it, Bertha said, including other installments about doll clothes. Ina was welcome to borrow them. In fact, June was just leaving to help Jack at the barn, and she would send the clipping with him.

What luck! The pattern would be in Ina’s hands this very day.  KW


Hallie said...

Don't you suppose the ladies were willing/able to walk the one mile to the other's house when they wanted?

Kathy said...

I can't answer that. I don't know. I know they came back and forth some, but there's no info on how they did it. I do know that a person in her 60s could well be willing and able to walk that distance.

Chris said...

It's true, any little (or big!) girl would want a doll for Christmas! And for certain, ladies in their sixties could walk the distance with no problem. At least, I know two who could. :)