Lighting Candles, Playing Dolls, This and That


crying Karoline


My mother, Dollie Manning, was a very gifted doll maker.  Years ago, she made the as many as 80 porcelain dolls for each of the Sewing for Dolls events that Mildred Turner, Terri Johnson and I held around the country.  Additionally, she provided dolls for several similar schools sponsored by Ellen Nickerson in the San Francisco area.  Mom also made tiny 3-8″ dolls that Lezette Thomason marketed and for which Lezette had drafted patterns.  Then there were the dolls she made for our daughter Rebecca.  That’s a lotta dolls.

When 8 year old granddaughter Laurel discovered that there are 3 storage bins of dolls in the garage, she just had to see them. She was allowed to select one to keep and she chose this very unique baby who had lost a shoe through the years.

You don’t often see a doll crying but Karoline (the name given her by Laurel) had tears that looked real.


tears cr

The sheen on Karoline’s tears is from clear fingernail polish.

Then I told Karoline’s story to Laurel.

When Rebecca was 5, her grandmother “Nannie” gave this doll to her for Christmas.  Rebecca was delighted because she had never had a crying doll.   After being examined a few minutes,  “Karoline”  was handed over to Nannie who said she would comfort her.

After Rebecca opened a few more gifts, Nannie handed Karoline back to Becca, saying that Karoline had quit crying and was happy now.



smiling Karoline


Rebecca was awe struck!  Her Nannie could do anything!  A few minutes later, Rebecca  resumed opening gifts and Nannie again took the doll in her arms.  After all the gifts were opened, Nannie quietly handed Karoline back to Rebecca, shhh-ing to indicate that Karoline was now asleep!


sleeping Karoline

sleeping Karoline


That was too much for even a 5 year old to buy.  So Nannie removed Karoline’s bonnet, which was attached to her braids, and revealed her three faces.  It was a magical Christmas. Rebecca played and played with that doll.



Laurel is equally enchanted.  We spent the afternoon scrubbing the scuff marks on her porcelain arms and legs, laundering her 30 year old clothes and  rebraiding her hair.

Laurel was so eager to dress her again that she used my blow dryer on the wet dress, bonnet, slip and panties.

I ironed them, threw in a lesson about irons and pressing, then introduced Laurel to the puff iron.  The elastic in her bloomers had to be replaced, adding more delay.  Finally, she was in Laurel’s arms where she remained for most of the next 24 hours.


L altar crop

The doll was given, in part, in celebration for Laurel’s first time serving as acolyte that morning.  She has waited a year for the opportunity and is finally tall enough to reach  the candles.  So her time had come.

She wore her recycled Christmas dress and carried her handkerchief purse which gave her something to twist, as she was a little nervous before church.


L porch

We were so proud of her.  She managed to light the candles, hand the offering plates to the ushers and not burn the church down.  Successful acolyting, indeed.

L Michael

Meanwhile, Robert Charles did some woodworking with his grandfather, worked on the book he is writing about football, and then scaled the holly tree where his father had climbed one Easter morning, making us late to church.


R tree


And then Rebecca sent this picture of Vivian Rose, in sweet slumber, wearing her coming home daygown.  She has found her thumb and life is more peaceful at her house now.


vr thumb cr


Grandchildren are just SO wonderful!

12 responses to “Lighting Candles, Playing Dolls, This and That

  1. OOooomigawsh!!! I have one of your mom’s dolls – actually, I have 2. I bought 1 from Lizette years ago, she stood on a shelf in the guest room in her adorable teeny-tiny smocked Bishop dress that I made her and then one day I found her in pieces on the floor! She was in a LOT of pieces, I was SO upset! My daughters told me she had jumped to her death because she was so lonely and bored! Nice daughters! The next time I went to sewing camp I bought *2* cutie little dollies, a blonde and a brunette, they now are back on the shelf in the guest room in my grandmother’s doll chairs, both it teeny-tiny smocked Bishops. Once in awhile a little girl comes along who I trust enough to allow to play with them!

  2. Delightful post. Enjoyed it from the beginning to the end.

  3. What a delightful post! Congratulations to Laurel for serving so well at church. I made a doll just like Laurel’s around 1982. I didn’t give her any hair, though, just a pretty bonnet that covered the other faces. I made a blue floral dress with a white eyelet pinafore for her to wear. I sold the doll to a collector. I have often wished I hadn’t. (“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” –One of my mother’s favorite expressions.) Vivian Rose looks precious in her darling daygown and Laurel looks beautiful in her velvet and lace.

  4. Barbara, what a heartwarming comment! My mother would have loved reading it. Those sweet little dolls are indeed a treasure.

  5. So with all your beautiful sewing, you also made porcelain dolls?!#$%!??? Wow! I wish you had a picture to share. But, as your mother said with such charm, “If wishes were horses…….” Love it!

  6. Love your posts! I would have to set that thumb sucking photo as my background…. toooooooo cute!!!!! You are blessed my dear!

  7. Thanks, Beckie. I’m looking forward to your return to blogging.

  8. Thanks, Terri. You are a dear friend. That thumbsucking picture always makes me smile.

  9. Loved every word of this lovely post. Your grandchildren are all so beautiful and yes, they are the best.

  10. Thanks, Bunny. I am sure you speak from experience when you say grandchildren are the best! We have Robert and Laurel overnight and as I gaze on their sweet slumber, I am overwhelmed with love. I feel the same way when they are awake and not bickering.

  11. Will you please send me the Let my words…design? Thanks. Carol

  12. Carol, the design has been sent. I hope you enjoy stitching it on a project.

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