Formby’s

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Set Her Free

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Reader, I could not believe my eyes when I opened a bin from a dark corner of the closet and saw her laying there. I checked her back just to make sure and saw the horrible strips of skin that confirmed her identity, but I already knew. I turned her back over and looked at the sweet face I’d first seen 20 years ago. There was no mistaking those features. After all, I’d painted them myself…

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 117, Pendleton. You can see her adoption page HERE.

Thank goodness when I tried this method, I tried it on her back, poor thing.

There was a time when I didn’t know that composition dolls existed. I don’t know if I ever would have were it not for the popping of my childhood friend into my life for a brief moment. She showed me her collection of old dolls and I was entranced. WOW. There were bisques, hard plastics and composition dolls. For the next few years I would scour the antique stores for ones I could afford but never found any.

Fast forward to 1999. I was standing in the living room in my little house in Napa, California talking to my sister Carol, when she handed the phone to her daughter Rhiannon. There was excitement and relish in her voice as she told me, “There’s this site. You’re going to absolutely love it. It’s called ‘Ebay’.”

I have no actual “Before” picture. This was back in the day of the One Hour Photo, or the scanner, if you were lucky. I removed her painted features with skilled photo editing. Ahem.

Ebay? What a strange name! I joined but worried about sending my money to some stranger. These were the days before Paypal, when you would pay by mail. It seemed like quite the risky gamble. But then I saw her. That goggly fish. She was filthy and had no hair or painted features, and she was cracked all over but she was also very affordable. I loved her instantly.

I found a nice little wig for her.

When it came time for her auction to finish, I waited anxiously by the computer, my heart pounding, my cheeks flushed. I put in a bid, but was it enough? There was no automatic countdown. You had to refresh the page each time. And when you did, it reloaded as slowly as the sun rising above the horizon, except backwards and line by line…by…line. GAH!!! I was almost too scared to look, but I HAD WON HER!!! And it hadn’t even been a contest! Apparently, no one wanted her but me. That suited me just fine.

Once she was finally into my anxious little hands, after my check traveled one way, and then she traveled the other, the next problem became how to fix her. I got a very well known doll repair book that mentioned “Formby’s” and how it magically re-creamed the composition together, kind of like a paint thinner. This didn’t seem right at all, but nothing ventured…

Seems legit. JUST KIDDING, DON’T DO THIS!!

I didn’t have any Formby’s or paint thinner on hand, but I had fingernail polish remover! It seems so silly now, but I was merely trying to be brave and doing what I could for this girl. I was horrified when I saw the results. WHAT TO DO?

Then a light bulb went on over my head. My friend Holly! She had mentioned doll repair while I was still trying to absorb the wonders of these creatures that weren’t in museums or antique stores behind glass. I contacted her. And she gave me that best tip I use to this day.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pendleton clothes. My brother Kenny worked at the Pendleton store at Disneyland for a time.
This dress is made from a Pendleton suit a neighbor gave me. How fortuitous!

And now here she sat, poor little Pendleton. Lonely and forgotten. That sweet face that started everything for me now as neglected as the Once-Loved Dolls I vowed to try to save. Which is why as an act of love this Valentine season I’m letting her go. THANK YOU, PENDLETON!! I shall never, ever forget you.

As I mentioned on Pendleton’s adoption page, there’s a song from a movie that would move me to gulping, sobbing tears if I let it. Instead I control myself, genteelly biting my lips, silent tears flowing like diamonds down my rose petal cheeks. Also, my nose gets a little snotty. Can you guess it? Here it is:

“When She Loved Me” sung by Jessie in Toy Story 2. This song gets me every time! Julie just snorts, so I guess not everyone feels the same way. I’m sure Julie has many other good qualities. Sniff!

On a side note, I’d like to thank the wonderful people of Rolfe who attended or participated in any way in the breakfast and bake sale auction benefit for Julie and Scott. BEST TOWN EVER. This is one of the many reasons I love Iowa, and Rolfe in particular!

FRANK & SPOT were adopted by…Adele M. of Castroville, Texas! They will be in good company as this is the fifth O.L.D. for Adele, including a previous Kewpie, Jude the Mail Carrier. Thank you, sweet girl!

And thank YOU. Aren’t I lucky to have so many Valentines in my life? Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart! You know you’re my favorite.

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