Coffee Klatsch, Oh Ja

Prairie of the Dolls

Stearns County and the whole of Minnesota are a hunting ground for vintage items and antiques. Who doesn’t love a trawl around these shops, found in most small towns?

In Little Falls I found a gilt framed print of JFK and a Hubert Humphrey election pin for a leftie friend.

In Albany I bought a glittery red necklet for my magpie sister.

Downtown St Cloud yielded an 1800s French opaline casket in Dark Shadows Blue that had been bedroom decor for a Cold Spring gent for more than 50 years, only to wind up in the Far North of Aotearoa, New Zealand, where a jumping cat hurled it to the tiled floor. I still have the 47 pieces – kintsugi, anyone?

In St Joseph I admired but did not buy a pair of fur trimmed red skates in my size I had no use for in semi-tropical Auckland, where the only ice you’ll find is in cocktails in Ponsonby. I regret not buying them just to coo over and stroke occasionally, gazing upon them in their original ‘As Seen In Seventeen‘ box. Presumably some lucky Minnesotan glides across their local rinks and lakes looking groovy. Our northern cousins were stylish too – Canadian Flyer made a similar pair in powder blue.

But what really strikes me in thrift and antique stores in Minnesota and across the globe are the dolls.

Dolls, dolls, dolls.

I never did like dolls.

I find them in random places in these stores. Heaped into corners, naked with half their hair missing. Propped next to antique farm implements wearing unlikely attire to scythe the fields. Sitting on raggedy rocking horses with bad haircuts, missing organs and limbs.

They all look scary and I wonder who buys them.

I have nothing meaningful to say about dolls and their mysterious ways. But have a look for yourself next time you find yourself in a vintage or thrift or antique shop in Stearns County, or anywhere in Minnesota, or indeed the world.

See also my collection of freaky mannequin photos. They warrant their own focus. Oh ja.

Someone once cared about these dolls. They would have been fussed over in baby talk voices, dressed with deliberation, and taken to bed as an essential sleep enhancement by small human companions. But then, as in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Island of Misfit Toys or The Velveteen Rabbit (Or How Toys Became Real), over time, beloved toys become ragged, unwanted, and are cast aside. This appears to be the fate of most dolls. Read Smithsonian Magazine’s article about the history of dolls, and ponder the mere existence of Mexico’s Island of the Dolls.

A fear of dolls does have a proper name, pediophobia, classified under the broader fear of humanoid figures (automatonophobia) and related to pupaphobia, a fear of puppets.

Smithsonian magazine

Photos and Wikipedia

4 thoughts on “Prairie of the Dolls”

  1. Cherie says:

    I am the only one of four sisters that hates going in antique stores. They’re creepy, and I just know something spooky could possibly be attached to things in there (especially dolls) and follow me home. I wonder who ended up with that big ghoulish bald doll that was at Granny Lena’s house?

    1. Editor says:

      Everyone seems to have an old creepy doll. Because it belonged to someone special people hate to get rid of the dolls. Or should I say, we do – because others clearly do get rid of them and they wind up in the thrift and antique stores.

  2. Lois Thielen says:

    Never liked dolls and I still have a few in mint condition, never played with, gifts from doting relatives. I grew up on a farm and was always outside, seeing what the animals were doing and playing with the cats. I found dolls boring and still do. Now cats…just call me a crazy cat lady. Still live on a farm and still love the animals.

    1. Editor says:

      Maybe the doll and cat preferences are genetic Lois! I look forward to hearing your tales about the Thielens.

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