This well-worn photo is of my wonderful grandmother, Joan. My grandfather, Ken carried it around in his pocket while he was away fighting in the Second World War. The following story takes a trip back down memory lane – to a time before the couple met and to my grandmother’s relationship with a very special doll.
My grandmother had been overjoyed when her father had given her the gift of a beautiful china doll. She lovingly cared for her and took great pride in pushing her around in her doll’s pram. One particular day, while playing, my grandmother accidentally let go of the pram. It raced away, tipping over and throwing the doll unceremoniously out onto the pavement with a loud cracking noise.
My grandmother was distraught; she’d broken her precious doll and she faced having to tell her father. As wine butler to King George V, looking after things and abiding by the rules was of prime importance to my great-grandfather. My grandmother was fearful of a stern telling off, but her father adored his only daughter.
When he came home one afternoon with a new doll though, from the look in his eye, she knew that this time there really wouldn’t be another chance.
The doll survived until my grandmother had children of her own, six in total, three boys and three girls. With so many youngsters around, the doll was stored safely away, too precious to be played with. My grandmother wanted her to be an heirloom to be handed down over generations to come.
She came over one afternoon and handed me a package wrapped in newspaper. I had seen the photograph of the doll (taken in the late 1920s/early 30s), but I hadn’t imagined that my grandmother still had her, let alone that I would be the one she wanted to leave her to. She told me that as my father was her eldest child and I was the first granddaughter, she wanted me to have it.
The shock must have shown on my face when I parted the paper to see the clear eyes staring back at me. The doll’s clothes had worn away over the years and her hair was matted. Apart from that, she was perfect.
I saw tears in my grandmother’s eyes and knew what this meant to her. I knew that I had to show my grandmother how much this also meant to me.
I contacted a dolls’ house infirmary to see if there was anything they could do. They certainly could and made the doll new clothes from authentic materials of the time. My grandmother had given me a description of the colours and materials used for the doll’s original clothes. The infirmary also made new hair.
I’ll never forget my grandmother’s face when she saw her doll, restored to how she was all those years ago. Sadly, my grandmother passed away not long after. The doll is cherished – a wonderful reminder of a wonderful grandmother.