Friday, September 1, 2017

Memoir Series, Abby Cohen

How Madame Alexander Changed My Life
by Abby Cohen

My theme is books, always books. Reading, collecting, accumulating, selling, talking about books. I don’t sell books anymore. But I still do all those other things.
When I was eight (?) years old (time is fuzzy) I outgrew my youth bed and got a real furniture set with a desk and bookshelves. My mom was tired of looking at the mounds of Bobbsey Twins in every corner of the room. Later, of course, those shelves were crammed with double rows of books until we began wedging extra shelving here and there in my room. Finally, there was the doll case. I had a set of Madame Alexander  dolls. They were a gift from my grandmother when I was little (not my favorite grandma, the other one). This collection was always an annoying part of my life. People would see it and say, “Oh, you collect dolls.”  Then, they would give me dolls for my birthday instead of things I wanted: books!
I finally convinced my parents that the dolls could be boxed up so I could fill the case with books. They were carefully wrapped in tissue, put in boxes and stored in a nice dry part of the basement. This happened to be on shelves behind a curtain, to make the basement more like a room instead of a storage area.
Some years later, I convinced my parents that it was time to sell the dolls. They were mine after all. I should be able to do what I liked with them. I was a grownup by then. You’d think I could do what I wanted with my own possessions.

Now we get to the mysterious part of the story. There are questions that have never been satisfactorily answered to this day. We have never been able to figure out how or when or who did this, but somebody had messed with the dolls. Played with some (but not all) of them and put them back inadequately wrapped and some of the colors on the costumes had rubbed off on each other. Some were missing little pieces of costume and/or accessories a shoe here an apron there. One poor doll was completely naked and missing her hair. We never determined how this could have happened in the sanctity of our basement/game-room and while I went ahead and sold the collection; it did not bring as much as it would have otherwise if it had been intact. At the very least, I got a story out of it. The money is gone. The story I’ll have forever.

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