Monday, December 20, 2010

Hometown Memories: My Most Cherished Childhood Toy

While standing at a checkout line in Wal-Mart the other day, I couldn’t help but smile as I overheard a little girl behind me telling her mom how excited she was that it was almost Christmas, and how much she “really, really...” hoped that Santa would bring her the Barbie doll that she asked him for in the letter she sent him. There was so much enthusiasm in that young voice that I didn’t need to turn around to know that she was probably bouncing up and down as she said all this to her mom – without stopping to take a breath.

Her childhood excitement made me think about my own early years when Santa was real and reindeer could fly and your biggest worry was whether your mom would let you eat a chocolate chip cookie before supper and the world was a safe and happy place. And I tried to remember what I’d wished for when I was little like that, about five, six or seven years old.

Although it was quite a long time ago, there is one specific toy that comes to mind: my precious ‘Dawn’ doll that I received for Christmas when I was about five or six years old. When I opened up my gifts that morning and discovered that one of them was a ‘Dawn’ doll, I shrieked with delight. I ripped open the package and hugged her. I ran my fingers through her long, silky, blonde hair that was so shiny it looked like spun gold. She was the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen and I loved her.

Do you remember the Dawn dolls? They made their debut in 1970 and quickly caught on with little girls – like me. They were smaller than Barbie dolls, and although they weren’t very well made, they were quite charming, and they came with a world of accessories and an assortment of brightly-coloured clothing. Dawn, like Barbie, was the main doll of the line but she had an assortment of friends. In addition, Dawn dolls cost much less than Barbie, so the mothers of little girls who were captivated by these pretty dolls were thrilled to have an alternative that was reasonably-priced.

This worked out wonderfully for families like mine that didn’t have much money. In my home, and in many homes we interacted with, toys were a luxury, so an authentic Barbie was not very common. Barbie dolls and their accessories were ridiculously-priced, so mothers with tight budgets – like my mother – were very grateful for dolls like Dawn. Because even moms who can’t afford to splurge on toys want their little girl to have a doll that she can play with and cherish. But not one that is hard on the pocket.


I adored all the dolls I had over the years, but Dawn was, by far, my most cherished. And even after so many years, I can still remember the feelings associated with that Christmas morning and how much joy I experienced playing with this pretty little doll that day, and many days after that. I had Dawn for a long time and I have never forgotten about her. Every year around this time, I think about my most cherished childhood toy. And smile.

Did you have a favourite toy as a kid?


  1. Martha girl that was too cute !
    I just started high school then .. 13 and I was making myself NOT think of dolls because I was supposed to be much more grown up.
    Can you even imagine a 13 year old THINKING of dolls today ? haha
    Anyways .. we were lucky enough to have the real Barbie when we ere much younger .. she has jet black hair .. but the HUGE disappointment was when I untied her pony tail .. she was BALD in the middle of her head .. I had my moment of OH NO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and moved on .. she had great accessories to make up for it ? LOL
    Joy : )

  2. What a wonderful childhood memory, Martha! I actually don't remember Dawn, but she is just as pretty as Barbie. I hope your mom reads your blog, because I know she'd be thrilled to read about the joy that Dawn gave you.

    I actually didn't have a lot of toys when I was young, but I do remember buying myself a Spirograph after I started earning money working the tobacco crop when I was nine. I was fascinated by how it worked, and played with it for hours. I have always been easily amused.:-)

  3. Joy, I was probably only stopped playing with dolls at 14 because we moved and I didn't have my walk-in wardrobe (where I loved to play) any more. Being a child was so much more fun than being a teenager!

    I can't say what my favourite toy was, but whatever I played with, that wardrobe was always involved. Sometimes as a circus caravan, sometimes as a house for my stuffed animals...

    But what's funniest is that you posted this just when I found my old barbies under my bed, Martha! With some of the clothes I'd made for them, and tiny holiday decorations...

  4. I was never much for dolls as a kid, preferring to build forts, make paper airplanes and other tomboyish activities, but I loved making crafts and cooking too. Barbies were so cool though, that even though I hardly played with them, when I got one I was in awe for weeks.

  5. Joy, when I was 13, dolls weren't what I was thinking of... I was busy having crushes on boys. So many memories....


    Beth, I didn't have many toys as a child. Aside from the fact that we just couldn't afford such luxuries, we spent more time playing outdoors and didn't really need that many toys. Plus, we had a lot of imagination and made up our own games. It was a different time back then. And I loved the Spirograph! Still do :)


    Ivynettle, sounds like you had a great setup, and lots of fun! Being a child is often much more fun than being a teenager. The teen years can be quite a rough time...heartache...peer pressure...etc...


    Tatiana, I was a total tomoby as a child, to the point that it drove my mother crazy. And most of the time I played sports with the boys in the neighbourhood, and sometimes board games, but I did fall in love with a couple of dolls over the years, mostly because they had an emotional attachment to them.


I love hearing from my blogging pals, but due to spam, I've turned on comment moderation for all posts.