Ginger Smith

Christmas, 1956... my mother had decided that it was time for me to have some dolls. She later told me that I was not that much into dolls and had never even held one before that Christmas morning. Mom told all of my relatives that they should get me a doll for Christmas. I was the only girl in a large family at the time. Of course, my parents bought me some special dolls, and Santa Claus - well, he must have been overstocked with dolls that year. I woke up Christmas morning to a room full of dollies - all sizes and shapes.

My two favorite dolls came that Christmas morning - Toodles and Betsy Wetsy. Toodles was way too big for my little arms to carry, but by the time I was 5 or 6, Toodles was toddling right along with me everywhere - from the grocery with mom, to the next door neighbor's back yard, to the bathtub where we "swam" together, to grandpa's house and back again.

I cannot remember when Toodles made her way to the back of my closet, but she was no worse for the wear, except for one missing arm. Poor Toodles. She was so heavy that I would drag her by one arm most of the time. I guess it was just too much for her little limb to withstand.

I will be 53 years old this year. The years have flown by and my memories of Toodles with them.

On a recent camping trip with a dear friend, her daughter-in-law dropped in on us with her two little girls - a 5-year-old and a darling little 14-month-old who just happens to look exactly like my Toodles - red curls and all. Fortunately, she does have all of her limbs. Seeing that little doll baby brought back a flood of memories of another little girl and her favorite doll named Toodles.

That Sunday night upon returning home from camping, I had to call Mom to ask her what happened to Toodles. The last time I had seen her was at my Mom's house in the bathtub with my two little nephews (who are now 20 and 22 and will remain unnamed). I was so happy to hear that Mom still had Toodles tucked safely away in a box in her basement.

Toodles is being restored as my 53rd birthday present to myself. Now, if I can only remember where I last spotted little Betsy Wetsy...