Long Lost Barbie

I was a tomboy growing up and as far as I can remember didn’t play with any dolls except for one brand. Barbie! Climbing walls and pushing supermarket carts down the long corridor adjacent to our apartment building held more thrills than playing house. Maybe that had to do with the fact that our house wasn’t the ideal of what a nice family of the 1960’s ought to be. My parents were hippies! So for a fantasy afternoon into the world of Father Knows Best I played with Barbie and her friends.

I had many of the dolls in the collection including Ken, Midge, Marge, Tammy and one other whose name escapes me now. I had a lot clothes for each of them with little hangers to store them in the big blue box the dolls came in. In my life I’ve moved house over 40 times to six countries on three continents. Don’t ask me why I saved what I thought was a collection of 1958 Barbie dolls. For most of the vestiges from my very early childhood are stored in my memory bank. I found out from Melissa, the Barbie Worthologist that no such Barbie’s ever existed from 1958.

I found the year with a copyright symbol on the backsides of the dolls and thought sure, that’s when they were made. In fact the blue box has on it’s front a copyright symbol for 1963. That sounds about right since I would’ve been six years old then. At the time my dad worked in the toy industry and brought me and my brother home every brand on the market. That’s how my Barbie collection began.

I still have plastic slipper shoes in their original packaging. The winter coat with three big gold buttons is pure Jackie Onassis. Barbie’s summer red and white striped ¾ inch arm jacket is soooo Chanel. It’s only now that I can trace back the fashion designer to the miniature clothes made for the dolls. Although there’s no Balenciaga I’m afraid.

What I really miss is the automobile that Barbie and Ken rode in, hair flying in the virtual wind down a lonesome Highway 66. Or the dollhouse where Midge lived. What about the jock-like tennis rackets and sports equipment for preppie Ken? Gone. What I have left are the dolls, several outfits and random ready-to-wear pieces, the blue carrying case and my fond memories.

I don’t know why I’m still holding on to this last remnant of my youth. My son probably won’t be interested in this collection when he grows up. He is more interested in scientific instruments and building toys than dolls right now at six years old. Then again, time will tell. Florian (my son) informed me recently that he likes collecting things and wants to learn about antiques. Let’s see, in another 55 years it WILL be an antique!