Looking Back


And for Christmas - a Doll?


Did you get a cuddly teddy bear for Christmas? Or maybe a book of paper dolls to cut out?


Although dolls, as toys, had been manufactured from the early 1800s, most children had few toys until after the economic boom in the post-war years. Today the toy box is overflowing partly because of the power of the consumer culture and partly because of today's child-focused parenting philosophy.


By the mid-1950s spending money on toys was popular and Christmas was the time to really splurge. Onoway Museum has a small collection of different types of toys and there are many types (games, animal toys, construction toys, physical toys [like the hula hoop], drawing toys, electronic games, etc.)


The first commercially popular dolls were porcelain, then came the baby rubber one with molded hair, glassy eyes and a tiny open mouth where you could poke in a bottle to feed the baby. This was in the late 1940s and into the 50s. Often Mom would sew clothes and make quilts for this doll.


Then Barbie came along in the 1960s and not only changed the image of dolls that girls played with; they were now fashion dolls that required the purchase of more and more clothes in order to attract that guy doll, Ken. There was obviously a huge market for the taking.


Fast forward to the 1980s when the Cabbage Patch kids came along. These soft dolls brought in something quite unique in doll/toy history. The Cabbage Patch doll came with a birth certificate and adoption papers. Now children were committed to bonding with this "kid" and being a companion.


Cabbage Patch doll
Birth Certificate

Cabbage Patch Who wouldn't want to cuddle
this friendly Cabbage Patch kid?

Birth Certificate How lucky you are
to have Jayda Erin as part of your family!

Prior to this time, action figures had hit the toy scene. Toy soldiers had been around for a long while but G.I. Joes played 20th century war games. By the 1980s Star War figures came along and the battles were good vs. evil in imaginary worlds. Almost all of these were designed to appeal to boys (how could they ignore this market?).


In the unique world of Christmas 2020, what kind of dolls found their way under your tree? Were there any health care workers? How about scientists fighting that COVID creature?


Washing Machine

Cowboy Other than his clothes, this fellow
is totally metal (even his hat).
By using the remote control, he can walk toward you and even shoot at you!

Dollhouse In the 1800s and early 1900s, dollhouses were
meant to prepare young girls for homemaking.
This house (2 feet high, 16 inches wide + 7 inch porch)
was a gift to Kristy Guidinger in the late 1980s,
made by her mother and sister. It is furnished to
the nth degree (including a bathtub and a bar of soap!).
You must stop by the museum to see this!

Washing Machine - This mini-washer
taught young girls how to use the churn (inside the tin), push the clothes through
the wringer, then hang them out to dry
on the clothesline. The boy got to help
by holding up the clothes line.

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Last updated: December 30, 2020