...where every woman over 50 is TOP DOG!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy 50th, Barbie!

Barbie® Turns 50 Today! Which, of course, qualifies her as an official WOOFer! And do we ever have a special treat for her...and you. A visit with Rhonda Dossett, one of our colleagues at Echelon Press. From her home in Oklahoma, she shares this beautiful Barbie story:

In 1963, my grandmother gave me one of the first Barbies. That doll shared much of my life – I actually still have her. Her blonde ponytail is a little thin in places, but her blue eye shadow looks as fresh as it did way back then.

In the photo accompanying this blog, it was December of 1964. I was in my grandmother's kitchen, celebrating my sixth birthday with my daily playmates:

1) My younger brother is there. He was the poor soul who was usually consigned to minor roles in our make-believe games in exchange for his inclusion in our adventures. His mouth is open in protest about something. (That was usual too);
2) My best friend, Tammy, who had come to the party accompanied by her Barbie, (note the doll nearest the cake) is on my left. Tammy was probably waiting for me to direct the action (I was bossy even then);
3) I'm in the center – and you'll note that my Barbie attended too (see the doll in lower right corner). My grandmother made my dress, my Barbie's dress, and Tammy's Barbie's dress. We loved those Barbie dolls with a passion.

I still have my Barbie dolls and most of her elaborate ball gowns. I also have Tammy's doll.

Back in the Stone Ages, kids in Oklahoma had to be 6-years-old by the end of September or they had to wait until the next fall to start first grade. With a December birthday, I can't tell you how much I yearned to start first grade early. Tammy too, although she was even younger. I remember us commiserating in our misery – the unfairness of it all.

Kindergarten wasn't available, so we spent our time as kids used to do – long days playing outside in all but the worst weather. Our Barbies went with us – and yeah, my brother did too. We were free to roam our territory – about two blocks square with impunity. If we strayed, my grandmother knew before we got home. She had spies everywhere. (My mother had a job that year; my father was recovering from back surgery; and my grandmother was responsible for us during the day.)

Tammy lived just down the road, only a large pasture separating my grandparents' house from hers. She was the baby of her family – the last child of parents who were nearly the same age as my grandparents. Yes, she was spoiled. But she was also joyful. She was a happy soul. She sang all the time.

She also had leukemia.

When Tammy died the following summer her mother gave me Tammy's Barbie. I didn't really understand death then. I didn't understand she wasn't coming back or where she went. But I didn't want the doll to be lonely.

The next fall I started first grade. I took both Barbies with me.

-- Rhonda Dossett
Copyright 2009
The Southern Half of Evelyn David
Murder Off the Books & Murder Takes the Cake (May 2009)


Evelyn David is the pseudonym for Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett. While many fans who attend mystery conventions have chatted with both halves of Evelyn David, Marian and Rhonda have yet to meet in person. For more details on this unusual partnership, visit their website at http://www.evelyndavid.com. In addition to Murder Off the Books and Murder Takes the Cake, both from Echelon Press, Evelyn David is the author of several short stories including Riley Come Home in the Missing anthology from Echelon Press.

For another perspective check out author, Amy Goldman Koss in the LA Times. My Barbie


Regan Black said...

The Christmas of the Barbie Dream Townhouse is etched for all time in my memory! (my dad's too, but that's a different story)

Three stories of pink frosted Barbie-bliss, with an elevator and everything!


Mary Cunningham said...

I envy you, Rhonda and Regan. I got a Betsy Wetsy for Christmas and she didn't come with her own townhouse...just diapers and a plastic baby bottle. (sigh)


Eileen Williams said...

Your lovely story of Barbies and birthdays, ending with the death of your friend, made tears well in my eyes. How fortunate we are to be around to wish Barbie a happy fiftieth.
For all her perfect, plastic featured beauty and figure no mortal could aspire to, she was a huge part of many a boomer's childhood. But, what I would LOVE to see now is "midlife Barbie," complete with meno-pot, muffin-top, and flabby arms. Now that's a doll I'd bring to my birthday for sure!!!!

Norm Cowie said...

Hah, looks like I'm older than you by a month, Southern Half.

I don't really have any Barbie stories, other than our GI Joe commando raids of same, but my mother sent my kids collectable Barbies for about ten years.

Most of them are still in the boxes.

I dunno ... I think it'd be a lot more fun to blow them up with firewords ... but that's just me.




Mary Cunningham said...

Okay, who wants to design and market "Mid-Life Barbie?!" Great idea, Eileen!

Norm, G. I. Joe was right up there in the unrealistic image dept. Thanks for posting!!

The Stiletto Gang said...

G.I. Joe was a great doll. My Barbie dated him for years. The only problem was you couldn't take him anywhere dressy. The combat attire just didn't work with Barbie's ballgowns.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Mare Fairchild said...

What a great story. This is the first year since 1988 I have seen something about Barbie that hasn't made me sigh because I'm slightly older than she is. LOL

Amy said...

Rhonda, what a wonderful story. I so love that you've kept both Barbies too. This gave me the chills as it was so beautifully written, too.
I'm now way intimidated for my guest post on Stiletto for Friday...

Mary Cunningham said...

I swear this is true (hope I don't get in trouble with the kids!)

My husband is Ken and his ex is Barbie! Needsless to say, they took a lot of teasing.

I can see your dilemma, Rhonda, with "Joe" escorting Barbie to formal affairs!

Older than Barbie, Mare? Join the club!!

Thanks for your comment, Amy. I'll be sure to check the Stiletto Gang! I'm sure your post will be great!

The Stiletto Gang said...

Thanks Amy and Mare for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. My memories of that time in my life are bittersweet, but it was good to talk about Tammy again. You never truly die as long ss people remember you.

(And least we get too sad - Myspace seems to think this blog is a porn site! It keeps blocking any link I try to post.)

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Pam Ripling said...

Touching story, Rhonda! Thanks for the memories. So Barbie can now officially join the Woofers!

I had the original bubble-headed brunette and the blonde pony-tailer. Then I got wig-head Barbie.

I liked G.I. Joe with Barbie better than Ken, too, but Ken's clothes wouldn't fit over Joe's biceps.

I saved a lot of those Barbies for my own daughter, but she wasn't really interested. I now collect American Girl dolls--Barbie's adopted Mattel cousins. While my Barbies have all gone to new homes, I still have a few Kelly dolls on the shelf above my 'puter.


Diana Black said...

I love all of these comments! And, Rhonda, you already know my thoughts about your story (sent them to her privately when she agreed to be our guest today.) Your story is both beautiful and beautifully written.

On another blog I posted that I never had a Barbie (sniff). But what I didn't say was that I never had a Betsy Wetsy either.

I know you're all just amazed that I managed to grow up being so deprived!! ;>)

Well, yes, there is some question as to whether I have in fact grown up...


Anonymous said...

I had an op-ed piece in the LA Times today in celebration of Barbie's 50th. If you wanna read it, here's the link (i think)
Amy Goldman Koss

The Stiletto Gang said...

Thanks, Diana. You know it's never too late! You can take a walk down that toy aisle and find the doll of your childhood dreams.

I never heard of a Betsy Wetsy. I did have a Chatty Cathy doll whose "talking" cord I managed to break within days.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Mary Cunningham said...

Oh, Amy! I love your article! Will add a link at the end of this one.

I feel validated that you mentioned Betsy Wetsy!! So, I wasn't as out of the loop as I thought.

Insisting that girls don't want dolls that are carbon copies of themselves is so true! I would've done anything for a Barbie with long blonde hair!

Thanks for commenting and for adding the link to your great LA Times article.


The Stiletto Gang said...

I had a wonderful time with the WOOF pack today. Thanks so much for inviting me to "Barbie's" party!

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David


Diana Black said...

Thank YOU! Now go to your room and play with your Barbies...


Anonymous said...

Amy G Koss

Mary Cunningham said...

You were a great guest, Rhonda! All the best with "Murder Takes the Cake!"

And pat your WOOFie on the head for us.


Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks for stopping by, Amy!!

I enjoyed your article. :>)


WOOFers said...

Love the Barbie story!!! I never had one, but do remember that they were the favorite "target" of the neighborhood boys with their toy soldiers and fake explosions!