Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Margie

Margie by Belle
Yesterday I finished a doll I've been holding on to for a while. This is Margie by Belle Doll Company. Margie is such a successful copy of the later straight-arm Cissy doll she's often mistaken for Cissy. Margie came in a smaller 17-18 inch size with a Revlon style twist waist body, and that doll seems more common than this one. Margie is one of those cheaper copycat dolls produced in small numbers and sold in small local department stores and grocery stores. Now, more than 50 years later, she's actually much harder to find than Cissy. If she has her original clothing and hair set her value can approach $300. I've never even seen this doll for sale still mint in her box, so I can't guess what one such might command.

Margie, and many other lovely dolls, can be purchased in my store so please check:

Margie compared to the infused plastic Cissy

As I said, I got this doll a long, long time ago. Someone "restored" her in the 60s or 70s by oiling her eyes and stuffing her head with some kind of insulation made of ground up bits of cloth. As you can imagine, that created quite a mess. I cleaned the inside of her head and her eyes repeatedly, but one eye still sticks and both are slightly cloudy with bubbles of oil behind the irises. This problem is only evident on very close inspection.

Margie needed repair to quite a large hip split. This was one of my first epoxy repairs and it isn't as smooth as I would have liked. I gave her body a repaint because it was a totally different color than her face, to the extent that I wondered if the one-time restorer painted it in the past. The paint inside the knee joints was starting to scrape, so I waxed it with paste wax to stop the scraping.

This is one of my first epoxy repairs, and it isn't as skillful as I'd like.

Margie's soft vinyl face has a small scratch next to her nose and a spot of white in her cheek color. Her hair is gorgeous, though. Her walker works if you pull her head up so the bottom of her head sticks to the walker disk in her neck. This looks weird and sometimes causes her head to fall off, though, so I just leave it down like the "no neck" Cissy. I restrung her arms with durable elastic cord.

Once I had Margie all finished I told myself I needed to find clothes for her. The truth is, though, I had trouble letting go of her. I've sold plenty of outfits that would have been lovely on her. This Margie reminds me very much of my own Margie, my grandmother.

My Margie, my grandmother

My Margie, my father's mother, took me in hand after my father died. She always wanted a little girl, and she told me she felt I and my sisters were her compensation from God for the loss of her son. We'd been living in California when my father died. My mother was pregnant with my sister and I was three years old. We moved back to my maternal grandparents' home, which was in the same little lake town where my father's parents lived.

My grandma Margie would pick me up and take me to her house and just keep me until my mother came to get me, often days or weeks later. Margie was a true lady, raised in gentle Georgia, and she taught me all I know of social graces. She would take me to eat in fine restaurants and at the country club from toddler-hood so I would know how to conduct myself in high society. Margie was tall, as I am, and when she saw me slouching and ashamed of my height she would pile books on my head and make me practice walking and sitting and standing and setting the table. From her I learned to move with grace no matter what the task.

My grandma Margie's house was always beautiful and ran like clockwork. She had a different task for each day: shopping on Monday, washing on Tuesday, ironing on Wednesday, etc. She never varied her routine and her house always looked perfect. When the mail arrived she would immediately sit down at her writing desk and sort it out, paying bills, writing replies to invitations, so it never piled up. Grandma was a great cook and made everything right down to mayonnaise and mustard from scratch. She got up at five every morning to make sure my grandfather had his breakfast before work and had a delicious supper laid out nearly every night, but she still found time to dress for dinner. By the time my grandfather arrived home from work the house was immaculate, his supper was on the table, and his wife was beautifully dressed with her hair and makeup perfect. I've never managed to live up to her standards as a housewife, I'm sorry to say. I keep trying, though!

Margie wears a factory dress not original to her.

The most important thing my Margie taught me was the art of keeping faith. When my father died my mother became very angry. She decided God didn't care for us anymore and stopped attending church. She sank into despair. My grandmother, though, who lost her own son, was able to rise above her grief a bit more. It did consume her, and I think it severely damaged her marriage. People would tell me often that I just never knew her because she changed so much after my father died. I saw something different, however. My grandfather was the choir director of their church for 40 years and Grandma ran the prayer chain. At the first sign of need she would open her little address book and start the prayer chain. She never lost her faith. She never stopped trying to see the purpose behind what had happened. She inspires me every day.

This little Margie doll has dark hair and big blue eyes, just like my Margie. My Margie was famous in town for her fashion sense, so I've tried to give this little Margie the fashion gene as well. I made her a fabulous hat, just like those my Margie always wore. It's been more than a bit hard to let her go, but she's not the real Margie, of course. The real Margie lives on inside me.

The dress has some dye transfer and age spotting.

The collar has dye transfer.

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