Legend has it that I learned to walk with this doll. It explains a lot about me. I’ve been known to trip and fall both up and down stairs, walk into plateglass windows, topple backwards while sitting writing, feet dangling from my chair . . . oh, the agony and humor of it all.
The doll was given to me the Christmas I turned one. It was given to me by my godparents. Sophie and Bill were both related to me on different sides of the family. It took me years to figure it out. In fact, I still have to think about it. Sophie was my grandmother’s niece and Bill was my grandfather’s nephew. They were both exceedling kind and generous to me, visiting often, attentive to my birthdays, holidayss, and religious observances. They were a remarkable presence in my life.
The doll has no given name, for some odd reason. She does have a bisque head and is wearing clothes that were mine. Her eyes open and close with the thickest eyelashes you could ever imagine. She has spent most of her 60 years in a box, wrapped up to keep her safe, and labeled “Penny’s Doll”, yet, she still has the sweetest of smiles upon her rosy-cheeked face.
She stands on rollers, much like roller skates. The are covered with rubber-like shoes. They are original. In fact, ”Penny’s Doll” is an original, in my mind at least. There is a wind-up key on her side and a pull-out lever on her back. A few turns of the key and a slight pull of the lever allows her to walk on the floor. Her head turns from side to side and her one arm swings back and forth as she glides across the floor. She lost the use of the other arm a long, long time ago, but, when I set her in motion I am always amazed at how well she gets on in spite of her slight afliction.
Legend has it that I was on the floor watching my doll take a stroll across the kitchen when I made my first, tentative steps at walking. I can only imagine the scene this caused; the excitement, the noise, the pride and the panic.
“Look, Pete, Penny’s walking”.
“Violet, she’s walking funny. Like the doll”.
“Oh, Pete, should we stop it?”
Yep. It explains a lot about me and my unique coordination. I did, after all, learn to walk observing a mechanical, rolling doll.
We are up north observing our real rolling doll, Kezzie, who runs as much as she walks, with much more agility than her grandmother ever has shown and will be rolling on back to the cutoff soon.