It seems like most of my long ago memories have a doll woven into them somewhere. Even before I can remember, dolls were there.

At six months of age there is a photo of me lying on a blanket with a big mama doll at least as big as me, lying beside me. That was my first doll given to me by my godmother. After years, poor Nettie went to dolly heaven when she got a “boo-boo” and her gray stuffing started to leak out. I became so upset about seeing her insides leaking out that my mom had to give her away!

Birthdays and Christmases, I could always count on receiving a doll - my aunt designed one-of-a-kind cloth dolls and I was always so eager to see what would come up with each year. I can still remember how I felt the Christmas that Patty Playpal came. I woke up before dawn and felt my way into the livingroom to peek under the tree. I bumped into Patty, knocked her down and had my first anxiety attack! There was a “real” girl in there!

I ran back to bed as fast as I could!

A few years later my wish came true when not one, but three Barbie dolls became mine, along with the Barbie Dream House. How many hours did I spend wrapped up in that world?

When my newborn baby brother came home from the hospital when I was five years old, I got a little Betsy Wetsy complete with handmade layette so I could take care of “my baby” while Mommy took care of baby brother. (A little Dr. Spock child psychology there!)

And how can I forget my Vogue Baby Dear doll? Every time we passed Macy’s Department Store window, I couldn’t take my eyes off the display. I guess you could say that even back then I had good taste in dolls.

As I got older and put away my play dolls, I still received dolls as collectibles. Madame Alexander Alexanderkins started me off with collecting at age 16.

My mother, Addie, was a definite influence in my love for dolls. She enjoyed collecting and one of her great joys was a flea market find. We all know how addicting the “hunt” can be and she certainly “infected” me! Slowly, my love of vintage and antique dolls began to grow.

Sadly, my mom is gone now and I miss my very best doll-friend in the world so much but every time I get a new “old dollie” I can feel her peeking over my shoulder and hear her oohing and aahing over the latest addition to our collection.

And after I clean them up and put them on display, those dear dollies seem to breathe a sigh of contentment that they are home. I stand there for many minutes enjoying their beauty, wondering about their stories, if only they could tell them.

And then I whisper to them softly -- “For love of Addie.”