Nov 21, 2013

My Mother's Doll A1920's Bye-Lo Baby

 The other day while standing in front of my china closet my daughter commented on how "that doll in there" terrified her.  It struck me as strange because it gives me a totally different feeling of being connected to the past.  Even when it was "officially" passed down to me when I was 5 years old I was never frightened by it but instead felt very special and was in awe that my mother actually played with a doll that had a glass head.

The doll my daughter referred to was my mother's ONLY doll when she was a child and it is a Bye-Lo Baby from the 1920's.

 I loved the family story attached to this doll.  Because the family was poor it was the only doll my mother ever had when she was a child.  My mother named her Barbara which was her mother's middle name.  I was only allowed to hold this without "help" from an adult.  But my mother played with it, a lot, when she was little.  Mom often wondered how Barbara survived all these years.  She would put it in a baby carriage and run up and down the gravel alley by her house with her friends, all the while Barbara was bouncing all over the place.  She survived many moves the family made after my grandfather died.

She does show some wear and tear.  Her head is dirty, she is missing a few fingers, and I have no idea if her clothes are original or not.  I think her "booties" are real baby socks put on at some point by my grandmother.  To me this shows she was well loved by a child.

I found the history behind the Bye-Lo Baby just as interesting.  It was originally sculpted by Grace Storey Putnam who need a way to support her young children after a divorce in the 1920's.  It was one of the first realistic looking dolls made.  Grace supposedly used a 3 day old baby as a model.  Here is a close up of her face.

Here is a picture from the day Barbara was passed down to me by my mother.  I don't remember but maybe she was a Christmas gift since the Christmas decorations are in the background.

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