Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Coloring Books and Paper Dolls

When I was a little kid, getting any sort of toys between one Christmas and the next was pretty damned rare. I never begged for a doll or a bike until right before Christmas because I learned quickly that was the only time I had even a minimum shot at getting what I wanted.

There were a few exceptions. Occasionally there were new coloring books and paper dolls.

Let’s take the coloring books first. I remember going in the store and heading for the book racks. There were coloring books displayed there like magazines are today on magazine racks. All kinds of glorious brand new, never been opened, big bright beautiful coloring books. Some with themes and others with random as yet lifeless pictures. Decisions would have to be made and at that time I too was the “decider”. I knew I couldn’t have the most glorious of them all because those were also the most expensive. But still, there were coloring books in my price range. I’m telling you when I chose my new book I became the proudest kid in town. I would take that book home, get my cigar box of broken and sometimes tasted coloring crayons and get to work. I would take these waxy little stubs of color and bring life to the outlined pictures.

Sometimes, and these were even rarer times, I could get a brand new box of crayons. Remember how good a box of new crayons smelled? I never got to get the box with several rows of different colors. I was in the financial group of single row buyers. But still, I had a brand new box of crayons. Each one still had its entire label in tact, and the tip of the crayon was pointy so the artist could make thin lines that were not afforded by the used, round ended old crayons. The best the old ones could do were smudgy kind of lines.

There was another experience that could equal coloring equipment and that was a box or book of paper dolls. I spent many happy moments living the lives of those dolls for them. One such book of paper dolls and fashions was a book about a wedding. There was a bride, groom and a flower girl and a ring bearer paper doll. The pictures on the front of that book were so beautiful to my eyes. The back ground was a pretty and shiny shade of blue. The bride was shown in the most beautiful wedding gown in the whole world. Fairy tale wedding? You bet your little pair of blunt nosed scissors.

I wasn’t real good at cutting out the paper dolls or their clothes. The little white tabs that you were to cut out along with the paper clothes were often accidentally clipped right off by my not so accurate scissor grasping hands. What a let down because if one of the tabs were cut off, the dress or outfit sort of hung from one of the dolls shoulders. But since the imagination can overcome any set back, the play would go on. I would be the lovely bride wearing the amazingly beautiful dress. I really was her and I could live in her world. Her world was nice and pretty and without problems. In her world everyone loved her and she was without a care. I escaped into her world and lots of other paper doll worlds as I grew up. I had total control in their worlds and none in my own.

A coloring book, crayons and paper dolls, these were highlights and delights of my formative years. These were such fun and provided so many happy moments. Today the thoughts of them bring back some very happy memories of a much, much simpler time in a much, much younger life.


Blogger spadoman said...

Glad you are having some happy memories today.
Keep up the good work.

May 16, 2006 2:25 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

Heavens. If you're up, I should go to bed.

Thanks for the memories. Coloring was not my strong point - I hated to stay within the lines (and still do figuratively) but for some reason, I liked paper dolls. I'd all but forgotten.

May 16, 2006 2:34 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

That was a very nice read.

May 16, 2006 3:05 AM  
Blogger a rose is a rose said...

i liked paper dolls but i LOVED colorforms!

May 16, 2006 3:28 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I LOVED coloring books and paper dolls. I was just thinking the other day after reading one of Spadoman's post that children today are missing out on all the wonderful & imaginative things we used to do. All that fun w/just a paper doll....

May 16, 2006 5:22 AM  
Anonymous rebellious renee said...

PoP....thanks for sharing those memories....I too loved coloring books as a kid....hell as a grown-up that's what I mostly do now... play in color.
Like Mary...I wonder about the kids today...everything is spelled out for them...nothing left for their imaginations...
are coloring books even still around?...

May 16, 2006 6:33 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

I stopped getting crayons when I started eating them.

Damn Crayola paper tasted like a ton of sludge from the bottom of the Passaic river, but that blueberry crayon made up for it...

May 16, 2006 8:36 AM  
Anonymous The Heretik said...

Oy, me comment gone. Something in you will always remain young.

May 16, 2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger Chancelucky said...

It's one of the things about the modern era that's a bit sad to me. I too remember how kids used to spend more time in "imaginative" play. Now you can call up any image you want through the internet or just throw in a DVD. I'm not sure it's progress at all.

May 16, 2006 8:49 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

Exactly the line of thought I was on chancelucky. I had toys when I was a kid. I never played with them though. I played with sticks, out side, in the fields and in the woods. I played in the creek, built dams with rocks. I was outside for hours. No, all day.

May 16, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger windspike said...

I could never get all the crayons back in the box, for some reason. And, they never were as neat as when you first opened them up. Which is better? The old worn box of 64 or a brand new one? I don't know, but I can speculate that the old, worn box says more about the character of a person than the new one.

May 16, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger Human said...

Those are good memories to cherish.
I remember I saw you girls and your paper dolls. We boys used sticks and mud clods as guns and grenades. We played fair and if the other "shot" 1st or got hit by a mud clod they played dead. Boys who wouldn't did not play for us long.

Watching my Lil Joe(22 mos.) grow and play is such a kick. I see the ways the wee girl and boys differ from each other. The funniest thing I have noticed, is when a Lil boy "drives" with the steering wheel attached to the playgroung equipment he "varooms" and "screaches" arounds corners.

The girls grab the wheel and smiling away go "beep!" beep!".

Which all brings me to think, Thank God for Little Girls. Or else we boys would never grow up.
Peace......beep! beep! varoooomm!

May 16, 2006 12:54 PM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

Another one of your great stories, PoP! Have you started work on that book yet?

I, too, loved crayons when I was a kid. I was fortunate to have the giant 64 (I believe) box of crayons that had gold- and silver-colored crayons. I thought those were especially glorious.

I also loved dinosaurs and the dinosaur bone displays at the museum. I would take my crayons and lay them out on the living room floor to look like the dinosaur skeletons at the museum. Crayons are useful for a lot of things.

May 16, 2006 2:03 PM  
Anonymous Patsi said...

POP -- I had trouble cutting the tabs on paper doll dresses, too....so I ended up just forgetting about them and using bobby pins to hold the clothes on the paper doll. I'm so old that my paper dolls were movie stars like Piper Laurie, Cyd Charisse, Ginger Rogers, June Allison etc.....

May 16, 2006 2:21 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Yes, I remember those days. We had a big coffee can of crayons that was filled as each child acquired crayons, used them and grew out of them until my little sister and I inherited the whole can. I think there may have been once or twice when I got a new box of 64 with the built in sharpener in back, but they all ended up in the coffee can.

May 16, 2006 3:36 PM  
Blogger Ron Nasty said...

I'm with Fred, I was outside all day and could cover a two square mile area and never have to worry about a thing.

May 16, 2006 3:51 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Did you ever create outfits for you paper dolls? I used to put the doll down and then design the most fabulous gowns and color them all in and cut them out. You broght back some fun memories.

May 16, 2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I'm sorry...but I can't even think about kids and coloring books without mentioning this site.

It's a critique of children's artwork...it made the rounds a few years ago, so you may be familiar...but check it out, it's absolutely hilarious.

May 16, 2006 7:00 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Oh, and I haven't read everyone's comments so forgive me if someone mentioned this...but remember the crayon sharpener on the back of the box? Fucking rad.

May 16, 2006 7:08 PM  
Blogger glenda said...

I always wanted the periwinkle blue crayon. It was the prettiest color to me. We had seven kids in my family and so we always got a big box to share.

May 16, 2006 8:08 PM  
Anonymous ds said...

POP, I had a Cinderella picture story book with the most beautiful wedding scene spanning the last two pages.

Cinderella and Prince Charming were so beautiful and their wedding looked magical.

I thought I'd be the happiest girl in the world if I could have a wedding like that.

One day I went to my dad's house (parents were divorced when I was very young) and the book was lost. I was devastated.

May 16, 2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger Auntie Roo said...

I played a lot in the woods. It was glorious to run wild all day.

I also have very fond memories of my box of story books. So much so that I bought copies of all the ones I could find for my daughter when she was little. I still have hers saved & try to add more to my collection as I come across them at Goodwill & other thrift stores.

May 16, 2006 9:29 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

Oh yes... I loved coloring, Colorforms, and paper dolls. In fact, I just bought a FABULOUS book of drag queen paper dolls for my dear gay friend's Bryan's birthday in Nov. He loved it. But nowadays, I spend at least an hr per day coloring with BabyGirl. Yes, as a 3 yr old, her care of the crayons is sorely lacking, but I don't care. We put a "lap desk" on a big pillow on the couch so we can face one another to talk while coloring. She received a Dora Colorforms set for Christmas and she loves it. So for her birthday, Hubby and I were discussing getting her some more, but I think coloring will still be king.

May 17, 2006 12:13 AM  
Blogger Red State Blues said...

I remember waiting breathlessly for the McCall's magazine to arrive every month so I could cut out the paper dolls. And each issue of the magazine had a couple of seasonally appropriate outfits for each of the dolls. Dang, I haven't thought of that for years.

Thanks for the memories.

May 18, 2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger JBlue said...

I remember Betsey McCall, too. My grandmother always cut those paper dolls out.

I also remember having paper dolls of Tricia and Julie Nixon! I thought they were so cute and such cool clothes.

Yes, the new crayons with the fine points and the crisp labels. I still like to just read the color names.

May 19, 2006 11:45 AM  

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