Early one evening, I sat at the dinette table in the house I grew up. I remember as if it were yesterday! A south side of Chicago neighborhood during the month of late November in 1961 quietly going through the infamous Sears wish book. Every child, at that time, was probably doing exactly the same. It took hours but I wanted to be sure to pick out the gifts for Santa to deliver. I actually had to cut a picture of them out for my Mom. It was one magazine I never found boring. I finally found her with a black and white striped swimsuit and black hair…not the blonde. I was told to pick out a case too, of course, I chose a large black one so I could collect a lot of future clothes. And through the short years ahead, I did collect store bought dresses and shoes as well as Grandma made clothes for the Barbie family.
For future birthdays and holidays, I was also gifted with the Barbie corrugated cardboard dream house,(took hours for my father to put together) the hair salon (also of corrugated cardboard), a pink plastic convertible, Ken, his own case, heaven forbid, and Pepper, her own case who was Tammy’s little sister. I have no idea who Tammy was..not a Mattel family member… but made by Ideal. No, I did not have a Barbie camper…many have asked.
My girlfriend and I even created a wedding reception and banquet hall tables that we designed using shot glasses from my father’s bar and sent pictures to Mattel. We didn’t win any prizes or receive a response. But, today, I still have the case for Barbie, some ratty clothes, Ken who is sickly bald, still wearing one his original moth eaten collegiate sweaters. Strangely, Pepper looks pretty nice in her case and party dress. But Barbie,my doll, my first, has been missing for years.
In the 1990’s, my daughter liked the cartoon character Barbies that included Anastasia Barbie being her favorite. She also loved Princess Jasmine and Pocahontas. The most important kid activity for her was buying and dressing up her dolls. Holiday Barbie dolls came out in 1988. Probably the first Holiday Barbie dolls are valued as much as 750 dollars. still in the box. We actually have a Celebration Barbie for the year 2000 and a Victorian Christmas Barbie on skates.
Today, Barbie still has a pink convertible and dream house which has been remodeled (more than one story). One of my kindergarten students was asking Santa for a Barbies careers doll as a baby doctor and a camper. You can also become a baby nurse and drive around in a Care Clinic van. Actually, it is good to establish the interests of little ones in future careers and vocations early on. You can choose to be a Barbie career chef, bookkeeper and there is actually a Barbie for president.
The Barbie doll was invented in March of 1959 by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, whose own daughter was named Barbara. For almost being sixty years old, she is definitely better looking than ever before. Without the slanty eyes, she is completely diverse in color and size. She can be petite or tall if she chooses. She can even be granted magical powers by a fairy. There are even work out Barbies…made to move dolls. And Ken..two years younger than Barbie…. is quite the fashionista with a variety of clothing styles to match his varied sports interests. Maybe that is the key in turning 60 years of age; still vibrant, young, successful, popular and healthy all these years. Maybe we all should take a lesson from Barbie and her friends at Mattel.
My student did get the Barbie camper….the life size one you drive yourself. Wow..just what I always wanted.