Friday, February 24, 2012

Fab Pam? I fall in love with the 50s

A Fortune Pam doll, possibly a Fab detergent promo, from around 1957

All vintage clothing with a new poodle skirt

A vintage Vogue tagged dress

A vintage felt outfit

A vintage skirt with new leotard

The entire lot before restoration
A few weeks ago, on Super Bowl Sunday, to be exact, I went a little crazy. I was browsing on eBay for a Revlon doll for my daughter. She is getting to the age where she would like a "grown-up" doll, but I find the modern "teenage" dolls mostly so slutty or weird (have you seen the Monster High dolls?) that I don't really want her emulating them. The little Barbie-sized dolls are so hard for little hands to dress, as well. The 18 and 20 inch Revlons are so much easier, and even the small ones seem easier to dress to me.

But anyway, I was looking and I decided to place several bids. I've done this before and I always get outbid. We were on our way to my sister's Super Bowl party, and I fully expected to lose most of the auctions while we were there. Well, I guess I was the only one on eBay that day, because I won almost every doll! The reason I say I went crazy is that I haven't ever restored any of these 50s dolls before. Now we have dolls on practically every surface  having spots bleached, getting reroots, having their eyes fixed or wigs replaced. Luckily no one has asked to see the house in the past couple weeks! I hope to move some of these out pretty fast.

I practiced on my daughter's Revlon first, and she turned out very nicely, so I moved on to some Sweet Sues. Those dolls are finished but they are awaiting clothing. Since I was working in those walker dolls I picked up this little Pam hard plastic, straight leg walker. Pam was a Ginny copy by the Fortune doll company. This doll isn't marked but her Pam face is very distinctive. I like her face better than the Ginny face, which always looks fat to me. I think this doll may have been a promo in 1957 for Fab detergent. You sent in a Fab box top and a dollar to purchase the doll. My knowledge of Pam dolls is limited to the eBay listings of the past few weeks, so I could be wrong, but the Fab Pam is the only one I've seen with this wig and dress.

The Pam doll arrived with the body in perfect condition, but her mohair wig had really had it. It had come unglued and had been brushed totally out of shape. She had a big loose Afro! I washed the doll and her hair. So much dirt came out of the wig the wash water turned gray! After the hair dried I reglued the wig. Then I set the wig...twice! The first time I used cold water and larger perm rods. The curl didn't set at all. So I rerolled the hair on the tiniest perm rods I could get at Sally's beauty supply and poured nearly-boiling water over the rods when they were rolled. Obviously, you want to keep the hot water out of the doll's eyes. I rolled the hair in a 50s flip. It is still quite big: I would have killed for such full but smooth hair back in the 80s! It's perfect for a 50s doll too! This doll has more hair left in her wig than any other vintage doll I've seen!

Pam had several outfits in the case, but they were all dirty and many were incomplete. I washed them and pressed them. Then I finished any unfinished seams (even commercial doll clothing often had unfinished seams) with overlock stitching if possible. If I couldn't get my machine in for the overlock I treated any fraying with Fray Check. I also completed  outfits by sewing some pieces. I made a poodle skirt from wool felt and a leotard from knit. Now she's ready for 50 more years of play!

One Pam doll came as a hula dancer. I would have loved that one as a child! My parents went to Hawaii shortly before my father died and they brought me back a hula doll. Later, the doll was lost. I'm sure she was thrown away when my father died; we moved across country and left many of my toys behind. She was a cheap doll too--one of those light plastic tourist dolls. But I still have dreams about that doll, that I find her. When I was a girl I would wake up all excited and go look in whatever place I'd dreamed I left her. Of course she was never there. I realize now that dream is not really about the doll; it's about trying to find my way back to my old life. I woke up one morning and my family was destroyed and I guess in my mind I still have that child's simple view that if I could fix one thing I could bring my father back, bring our home back. I know it's not about the doll, but I often wish I'd gotten another hula doll!

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