When my grandmother went to live in a nursing home, we were faced with the daunting task of emptying the house she’d lived in for over sixty years. Our work was rewarded, though, with countless forgotten treasures, including this:
The back of this box is stamped with the logo to the Kibbe Bros. Co., Springfield, Mass. and is inscribed to my grandmother, from Pat J. Lillis, Christmas, 1919. I wasn’t surprised to find an old candy box among my grandmother’s things. She saved everything. But I wasn’t prepared for the treasure that lay inside the box. Inside were hundreds of paper dolls and women modeling dress patterns cut from magazines. Because they’d been hidden away from both my mother and her sister and my cousins and me, they were in perfect condition.
Everything was cut precisely, including characters from nursery rhymes and Alice in Wonderland. There was even small brown envelope filled with just hats. Most of the dolls, which included girls, women, and boys, were given names and ages and are all part of a large family.
When we asked my grandmother about them, she said she and her younger sister had cut them out and played with them for hours. This is how I imagine them:
Dust motes dance in light
streaming through windows
so old the glass
ripples and flows.
Bathed in this golden sunshine,
a nook beneath the stairs
becomes a refuge from collecting eggs,
fetching cows from the far pasture.
Two heads lean together,
brown hair woven into tight braids,
bowed in concentration,
imaginations running wild.
Four hands snip and cut,
a family of paper dolls grows.
lives created out of thin air.
© Catherine Flynn, 2016
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, Beth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.