Top of the list in 2020 gifts : Barbie’s Dream house (1962)

One day, I overheard first grade girls in my class talking about the big present they wanted for Christmas. According to them, everyone gets a big present so I asked what they wanted….I heard them say it was 3 stories. Actually, they showed me a picture of the latest and greatest…the Barbie Dreamhouse. But what they didn’t know, that I quickly shared was the first dreamhouse for Barbie was created in 1962 and I got it for Christmas under the tree the first year it came out…hah hah…the big present... I even have a faded movie of me playing with the house. When I showed them a picture, they were not impressed.

The house I got was made of paper and cardboard. You could fold it up and carry it like a suitcase. It was a one room design with everything in it including bed, sofa, and console with stereo and TV. My father hated putting the furniture together but I took special care of it. It lasted until my college days. It had been stored in a basement and there was a flood. That was the end of that. I still want another one!

In the early 1970’s, the townhouse had been three stories and partially plastic with a working elevator and the furniture was plastic. It showcased a patio with a pool painted on one side of the back wall as well her own study or office. But 1979, they produced an A- frame house which I always wanted, a real one that is. It had working doors and windows including six rooms and was very realistic. At this time, they created mirrored top coffee tables and end tables….furniture I had and still do. 

I also liked the early townhomes Barbie had in the early 1980’s. Loved the paintings on the wall and depicted the great 80’s style of wicker, especially white. There was also a dream cottage which was one story with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom as well as a pool area.

Now in the early 1990’s, what my daugther’s generation always wanted was the magical mansion that was two stories, sx rooms, with working lights. The windows truly reflected 90’s culture. It featured a working fireplace that lit up as well as a working telephone and doorbell but my daughter thought it was just too pink. In 1998, a castle type, Victorian house was created that had stained glass windows and bay windows.

In the early 2000’s, the house became three stories with a toilet that actually flushed. In 2014, the house with three stories and two elevators. Today, the Barbie DreamHouse measures an impressive 3+ feet tall and 4+ feet wide and features 3 stories, 8 rooms and 70+ accessories. Special amenities include a working elevator, home office, carport and second-story pool. Barbie also has a Malibu cottage and her own plane. For over 60 years old, she is quite the celebrity and quite the jettsetter.

Anyone who is interested in purchasing the original dream house, Ebay offers an excellent selection of my Barbie house and one that actual includes record albums that were popular at the time and almost as much money as the houses today. Boy, I don’t remember the albums and it looked like one of them was of Frank Sinatra…not impressed. Now, if I could find an album that represented the beginnings of rock and roll, I…………….

Our toys at Christmas

After leafing through a Sears brought back it back for one year in 2017,checking out the two page kid section a few years ago, it was certainly far from grand. As I remembered during my time when the Wish Book came in the mail at our house in Chicago during the 1960’s….just about this time of year, every year.

For those that remember, The Wish Book was every child’s hopes and dreams to be eternally satisfied in gifts from Santa for the holiday season. The Wish Book was every parents dream to keep us busy marking the pages, even cutting out, and highlighting the most important choices that would be wrapped and placed under our Christmas tree. This was no flimsy flyer. Published by Sears in the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s holiday additions where over 400 pages in length. In 1964, 1968, and 1969 proudly boasted over 600 pages and it took two hands to carry.

How beautiful the dolls…. dressed in ruffles and fairyland colors just like it says in the book in 1964. There was Betsy Wetsy, the tiny kissing cousins, the exceptional Thumbelina. Barbie, Ken, Midge, Allan and Skipper, Barbies new dream house, vinyl cases and sculptured doll carriages priced as low as $4.98.

Then there were pages of vanities with neatly filled cosmetic trays, Little Hostess Buffet, All in I kitchen in corrugated card board as well as all steel play kitchens and fully furnished Split level houses of sturdy steel for under $10.00 along with phonographs that never needed a tube replacement. There were tuck and touch needlepoint sets that were never that easy. There were paint by number which were my favorite that I still do.

Of course there were the 3 speed bikes, Gilbert train sets, Ford J slot cars, Gemini rocket to blast to the moon, walkiestalkies with code buttons to send secret messages. There were the electric build it sets and basic science club kits, chemical sets and wood burning sets in all shapes and sizes with an actual analog computer for only 5.88. Gas and battery powered miniature cars and planes and at one point motorized erector sets. Make things work boys, with your own 53 piece workshop with a workbench to match for under 20 dollars.

We both had view masters with our collection of pictures from Cinderella, Bambi, Batman and the Man from Uncle as well as an etch a sketch for under 3 dollars. I guess those were like our cell phones today. We both played music. For the boys, it was Roy Rogers Guitar, an accordion and girls tended to receive pianos in all different sizes. And what about the games for the entire family? There was dominos, chess, checkers of all types,along with CandyLand, Cootie House, Dr. Kildare, Lie Detector, Dick Tracy, Snakes Alive, battery operated table top Pinballs.

The Sears Wish Book ceased publication in 2011, Sears brought back it back for one year in 2017 But still, though I love shopping on the Internet, the days of that 600 page book of excitement, joy and scapbooking was gone forever.

American Girl

It was Samantha Parkington that was all the rage for many.  My daughter loved the doll and got one along with a look alike doll. I loved the books. But it was the Bitty Baby that truly brings back special and sometimes emotional holiday feelings. Christmas 2000 my daughter really wanted the Bitty Baby and under the tree on Christmas morning, there was nothing with the excuse told to her that we just couldn’t afford it. Later that morning, we traveled to the nursing home to see my Mother who would die later that summer. She handed my daughter the wrapped box and still had no idea the Bitty Baby was inside. She thought when first looking at the box that it was just too small for a baby doll. She was hoping up until the last minute that the doll would be hers forever; still is in a neatly wrapped storage box along with Samantha.

American Girl is an American line of 18-inch dolls released in 1986 by Pleasant Company. The dolls portray today eight- to twelve-year-old girls of a variety of ethnicity, time periods of origin, faiths, and social classes.Originally, the stories published into books focused on various periods of American history, but were expanded in 1995 to include characters and stories from contemporary life. Aside from the original American Girl dolls, the buyer also has the option to purchase dolls that look like themselves.

Bitty Baby was an American Girl line of 15″ infant baby dolls for children ages 3 and up. Bitty Baby’s arms, legs, and head are made from vinyl. A precursor to the line called Our New Baby was first released in 1990,which consisted of Caucasian (with blond hair), African-American, and Asian-American variants. The dolls were marketed as a way to get children to adjust to having a young baby in the house. The dolls were gender neutral, unlike the later Bitty Baby; it was expected that the doll could be a younger boy or girl.

The American Girl series, by various authors, is a collection of novels set within toy line’s fictional universe. Since its inception, American Girl has published books based on the dolls, with novels and other media to tie in with their dolls. The books follow various American girls throughout both historical eras and contemporary settings.The historical novels that have corresponding dolls are referred to as the Central Series such as Samantha Parkington, Kirsten Larsen, Molly McIntire.  And I read them all even trying my hand at writing one and sending it to the publishing company.

A related series entitled History Mysteries, also known as Mysteries Through Time and/or Mysteries through History was released by American Girl in 1999 and discontinued in 2004. The series comprises a total of 22 books by various authors and forms a companion series to the popular American Girl books; unlike Girl of the Year and other lines, they do not come with any doll or toy and acts as a stand-alone novel set in a particular period in American history.

Today, all dolls purchased actually come with a book. For 2020, American girl has a new doll with a hearing loss. She is a competitive surfer that lives in California named Joss.

And the dolls of my daughter’s childhood are now considered antique and worth some money. Just like mine. One Samantha doll with her original outfit and accessories recently sold on eBay for $400. And the original Bitty baby can be found right now for under $50 dollars with only a few scratches.

Chatty Cathy is 60 years old!

I was fortunate because my father was a home movie nut…all of them successfully transferred for every birthday and holiday so I have not forgotten the dolls and toys I got for both. My first baby doll was Tiny Tears and I received a to die for blue carriage under the Christmas tree to walk her in. And a new friend for Tiny Tears sat in a box; Chatty Cathy with auburn hair, soft face and cloth speaker, and pull string in the back. I still have her but a few years after getting her when I was in elementary school, a friend cut her bangs and put her in the bath tube. She gargled for a long time and I cried. Today, however, she is mute.

Chatty Cathy was a pull string “talking” doll manufactured by the Mattel toy company from 1959 to 1965. The doll was first released in stores and appeared in television commercials beginning in 1960, with a suggested retail price of $18.00, catalog advertisements usually priced the doll under $10.00. Chatty Cathy was on the market for six years and was the second most popular doll of the 1960s.  Brunette and auburn haired versions of the doll were introduced in 1962 and 1963 respectively as well as an African American doll. The original Chatty had a red dress replaced by a pink and white striped dress with a white pinafore called “Pink Peppermint Stick.”  There was also a red velvet coat and her Sunday dress ( still have with a few threads missing)

Chatty Cathy “spoke” one of eleven phrases at random when the “chatty ring” protruding from its upper back was pulled. I love you, please take me with you, let’s play house, please brush my hair, will you play with me, were some of the words but her mouth did not move.

If you research the value of the vintage Chatty Cathy doll, you will find a variety of dolls in different conditions, many different versions and different prices but a well-preserved Chatty can get alot of money….actually thousands of dollars.