All my friends had Barbie dolls. I wanted one. My family was dirt poor. I got a 50c a week allowance. My mom knew how much I wanted a Barbie. She meant well. She saved syrup labels and sent away for this:
Not quite the same thing. At 15" tall, she towered over all the other dolls (much as I towered over all my friends) and I was heartbroken.
Like I said, I knew Mom meant well, but this just would not do. For many reasons.
When I was 12 years old I was in the hardware store in my home town - which sold housewares and toys along with lawnmowers and hammers - when I saw her, the doll of my dreams, with her Stella Stevens platinum blonde hair and her sidelong glance and I just had to have her. I saved my allowance for months, but to make sure she would be there when I had the money, (to my shame now) I hid her in the store, behind some jigsaw puzzles. When I had saved up the $3.50, I claimed my prize.
She wasn't part of a fancy gift set then - she was in a red bathing suit with black high heels and little pearl earrings. I would never be able to afford the beautiful store-bought clothes I drooled over, but she had to have a wardrobe. So my father taught me basic sewing stitches, and my next door neighbor taught me to crochet, but I taught myself to knit, using twine and pencils, and in very short order she had her own closet (made from a shoebox) filled with original designs. I dreamed many dreams through her, gained many skills and a measure of self sufficiency too.
I kept her for many years - eventually surrendering her to more "grown-up" interests - but I never forgot her. Because of her, I was inspired to create. She was my launching pad, if you will. Now, almost 50 years later, I found her again:
Barbie Collector put her on sale and now she's mine again.