Thursday, June 28

The best of their abilities

I'm so proud of American Girl today that I am bursting at my seams.

They are finally, seriously, addressing girls with disabilities.

Yes, they've had the crutches and casts for years, as well as the wheelchair.

But last night American Girl finally introduced bald dollshearing aids, a service dog, and an allergy-free lunch with medical bracelet and allergy pen!

One woman wrote last night that she was sitting in front of her computer, literally in tears, because her hearing-impaired daughter could finally have a doll just like her.

Well done American Girl, I tip my tiny top hat to you.

And I think I'll have to get that service dog (Gromit?) for myself someday.

After my darling Clementine, of course.

In my dreams she still doth haunt me

I'm still dreaming about my darling Clementine. I'm so excited about her that I shall give her this outfit off my back if and when she arrives.

But you ask, why the name Clementine?

In John Ford's 1946 classic My Darling Clementine, the Earp brothers are driving cattle to California when they are told of a nearby town, Tombstone.

The older brothers ride in, leaving the youngest brother James to watch over the cattle. The Earps quickly find Tombstone a lawless town. When they return to their camp, they find the cattle rustled and James dead.

Seeking vengeance, Wyatt Earp returns to Tombstone and takes the job of town marshall to find out who was responsible.

In the meantime, a young woman from Boston named Clementine Carter arrives in town....

(Loosely based on the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the film's plot deviates significantly from history.)

The title derives from the American western folk ballad Oh My Darling, Clementine, which is the theme song of the movie.

The song Oh My Darling, Clementine was written in 1883 or 1884 about a bereaved lover mourning the daughter of an 1849 California Gold Rush miner. He loses her in a drowning accident, although he consoles himself at the end of the song with Clementine's "little sister."

(The verse about the little sister was often left out of song books intended for children because it was morally, um, questionable.)

Wednesday, June 27

Oh my darling, Clementine!

While Momma's busy geeking out over Julie's Car Wash Set (yup, $350!) I'm eyeing this new cutie.

I think it's time I got a new sister to adventure with, don't you?

What do you think of the name Clementine?

And who wants to bet on who gets her first, me or my Big Sister?

Girls just want to have fun weapons

We went and saw Brave, the newest Disney/Pixar movie, this weekend which heightened my continuing interest in weaponry. So Momma went on the hunt and found this Limited Edition Merida Doll in my 18 inch size!

Our Limited Edition Merida Doll captures the adventurous spirit and beauty of our newest heroine from Disney/Pixar's Brave. With her mass of fiery red curls and luxurious gown, Merida makes a headstrong addition to your doll collection!


Who writes this stuff? There's no mention of Merida's "iconic bow featuring intricate carved-in details" until the very end of the product details, and nothing about her sword.


Tuesday, June 26

Being bad has never looked so good

Momma seems to have a soft spot for dolls with an attitude.

She was very excited yesterday to hear about the new Disney Villains Designer Collection.

Designed and carefully crafted to capture the essence of evil at its best dressed, the Villains Designer Collection re-imagines the stylish wickedness of classic Disney Villains.

Disney Store has made 13,000 of each of the six dolls, and every doll will come with a Certificate of Authenticity. (What's authentic? The dolls or their villainy?)

The dolls will be available online and in select North American and European stores in September for $79.50.

Can’t wait to get your hands on this fashionable villainy? An online-exclusive set including all six dolls will be available for pre-order on Monday, Aug. 20. That will be the only opportunity to guarantee a purchase of all six dolls. The entire set is scheduled to be delivered on, or shortly after, Monday, Oct. 15.

Our favorites? Maleficent (love the leather bustier!) and Ursula, although Cruella is pretty fabulous, too.

Monday, June 25

Type cast

Momma was excited today to read about Letterpress Central, a print shop in Chandler, Ariz., that still does letterpress printing.

In letterpress printing a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image. It was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 (or so) and remained in wide use until the second half of the 20th century.

Visions of lead type began dancing in her head and she reminded me that we still have an old type cabinet from the family business.

The cabinet contains 16 large drawers, and each drawer is subdivided into many smaller sections which would contain lead letters and punctuation. Each drawer would hold a different font or size.

Part of my job as a printer's devil would be to fetch type and keep it organized. Many novices get things mixed up since the lead letters are all backwards.

But not me.

Sunday, June 24

This Week in The Civil War: June 24, 1862

Seven Days' Battle Begin

The Seven Days' Battles opens this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The weeklong series of battles will consolidate the rise of starring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and prove influential in shaping the remaining course of the war. On June 25, 1862, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan sent his combat forces marching toward Richmond, intent on putting the Confederate capital within range of his siege guns. The Associated Press reported in a June 25 dispatch that the fighting was fierce as Union troops "met with a most determined resistance" in its Confederate foes. "The ground fought for was a swamp, with thick underbrush," AP notes. In such terrain, McClellan's push is not enough and Lee goes on the offensive the next day. Lee's battle plan succeeds in pushing back federal troops, forcing McClellan's fighters to withdraw southeast along the Chickahominy River. On June 27, 1862, Union troops clash with Confederate forces at the major Battle of Gaines' Mill. There, after hours of afternoon fighting, Lee hurls his combined forces in an all-out attack that forces Union rivals to retreat. His is a sweeping tactical victory, his first. But it comes at a great cost in lives. The 15,000 estimated casualties at Gaines' Mill mark the deadliest and largest battle in the East yet. More fighting follows on June 30, 1862, at Savage's Station. And on June 30, 1862, Confederate forces engaged in close combat with Union forces, unsuccessfully trying to cut their retreat to the James River. July 1, 1862, would see the last and deadliest battle of the Seven Days at Malvern Hill where Confederate forces are unable to withstand withering fire from Union forces ensconced on that high ground. Strategically, Lee is hailed as a hero for successfully defending Richmond, leaving McClellan's monthslong bid to take Richmond in disarray.

Friday, June 22

Cute as a Bug on a rug

American Girl
Momma is seriously geeking out this week.

American Girl leaked that one of its new releases on June 28 is Julie's Car Wash Set ... featuring a Volkswagen Beetle!!!

The Volkswagen Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1 (or informally the Volkswagen Bug), was an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003.

Momma's parents got their first (yellow) Bug while she was in Kindergarten (1969-1970). It was quickly followed by a pale blue Bug.

Grandmomma learned to drive stick-shift on the yellow Bug while driving Momma to kindergarten. (Grandmomma and her best friend once drove from Ohio to Florida in one of the Bugs with four kids!) Ten years later Momma learned how to drive stick-shift on the same yellow Bug.

Sadly, Momma killed that poor yellow Bug in a car accident in 1982. (The fire department had to cut the roof off to extricate Momma, briefly creating the only VW bug convertible owned by her family.)

So while I'm busy creating a fake driver's license for me, Momma is praying the price for Julie's Car Wash Set will lower than the rumored $350.


If so, we'll be looking for one in the salvage yard.

Tuesday, June 19


Today is one of my favorite holidays.

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.

Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 1863, it had minimal immediate effect on most slaves’ day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States of America.

Texas, as a part of the Confederacy, was resistant to the Emancipation Proclamation and while slavery was prevalent in east Texas, it was not as common in west Texas.

Juneteenth commemorates June 18 and 19, 1865. June 18 is the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves.

Legend has it that while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa on June 19, 1865 , Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3”:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Former slaves in Galveston rejoiced in the streets with jubilant celebrations. Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year. Across many parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land specifically for their communities and increasingly large Juneteenth gatherings — including Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.

As of June 2011, 41 states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or state holiday observance.

Sunday, June 17

This Week in The Civil War: June 17, 1862

Lincoln bans slavery in the U.S. territories

In June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln is still months away from issuing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. But 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, Lincoln signed a bill passed by Congress that would ban slavery in the U.S. territories without compensating former slaveowners. It signals Lincoln is giving deep thought to the issue of slavery as the war drags on. On Sept. 22, 1862, following the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln would issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, ordering that in 100 days the federal government would deem all slaves free in those states still rebelling against the Union. Meanwhile, the week opens with a vast Union army bristling in eastern Virginia for several major battles that would erupt in coming days and weeks. Those engagements would claim thousands of lives as Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee would seek to defend their capital of Richmond, Va., from Union foes. The Associated Press reports intermittent shelling followed by calm. One AP dispatch dated June 22, 1862, reports from the field headquarters of Union Gen. George B. McClellan in Virginia that "this has been a remarkably quiet day, considering the close proximity of the two contending forces." But The AP reports there had been "brisk skirmishing" the previous day and concludes: "everything indicated that a general engagement was at hand." Meanwhile, there are the usual daily incidents of war. A dispatch this week reports that Union soldiers hunting for deserters in northern Virginia "came upon a rebel mail carrier, who was endeavoring to conceal himself in the woods." It added a "large quantity of letters to prominent officers in the rebel service, many of which contain valuable information," were found in the mail bag" of the arrested man.

Thursday, June 14

Happy International Steampunk Day!

H.G. Wells would be proud.

The Victorian author of science fiction pieces such as The Time Machine was born on June 14, 1866 and so steampunk lovers around the world chose this date to celebrate everything steampunk!

My Dear Friend Theodora is celebrating with a new limited edition outfit.

Isn't it divine?

The End of Time? outfit for Theodora includes a chiffon top, gauze skirt with lace trim, pleather loop, textured pleather corset with ruffles and ring decorations, corset belt buckle, tie, velvet jacket with sleeve cuffs and shoulder decoration, decorated hat with lace trim, stockings, and designer boots.

Tuesday, June 12

Happy Loving Day!

Me with my biracial Big Sister.
Today is the 45th anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States.

Loving Day is an annual celebration held on June 12, the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in 16 states citing "There can be no doubt that restricting the freedom to marry solely because of racial classifications violates the central meaning of the equal protection clause."

In the United States, anti-miscegenation laws were state laws banning interracial marriage, mainly forbidding marriage between non-whites and whites.

The "Loving" side of the U.S. Supreme Court case consisted of Mildred and Richard Loving. They first met when she was 11 and he was 17. He was a family friend and over the years they started courting.

After Mildred became pregnant, they got married in Washington in 1958, when she was 18. They were arrested a few weeks after they returned to their hometown north of Richmond, Va.

Virginia is for lovers?

They pleaded guilty to charges of "cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth," and avoided jail time by agreeing to leave Virginia. They moved to Washington, D.C. and began legal action by writing to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy referred the case to the American Civil Liberties Union.

After the Warren Court unanimously ruled in favor of the young couple, they returned to Virginia, where they lived with their three children. Richard Loving was killed June 29, 1975 by a drunk driver. Mildred Loving (who lost an eye in the same accident) died May 5, 2008 at the age of 68.

Loving Day's mission is to fight racial prejudice through education and to build multicultural community. Each June 12, the anniversary of the ruling, Loving Day events around the country mark the advances of mixed-race couples.

Loving Day is not yet an official US-government-recognized holiday, but there is a movement to persuade President Obama to make it so.

Sunday, June 10

This Week in The Civil War: June 10, 1862

J.E.B. Stuart rides

Some 150 years ago in the Civil War, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart left Richmond, Va., on June 12, 1862, and began a daring reconnaissance mission on horseback in which his cavalry traced a giant circle around the Union Army of the Potomac. Stuart's three-day, 150-mile roundtrip ride supplied Confederate leadership with key intelligence about the huge Union army of Gen. George B. McClellan, then massed off southeast Virginia in a bid to take the Confederate capital of Richmond. Stuart had already claimed fame by pursuing and harassing routed Union forces in July 1861 as the federals ran from defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas. At the request of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stuart and some 1,500 riders set out from Richmond on the intelligence-gathering mission that would encircle McClellan's Union forces and lead to the capture of dozens of Union soldiers. Though not strategically important, Stuart's ride would boost Southern war morale and prove cause for embarrassment for the Union Gen. McClellan. Stuart isn't the only headache for McClellan this week. The Associated Press reports in a dispatch June 14, 1862, that a small group of Confederate troops have struck at Union forces in an area of the Pamunkey River in Virginia -- firing on them and reminding the enemy that theyw ill resist all enemy efforts. "The rebels ... burnt two schooners, some wagons, and drove off the mules," AP reported. The dispatch said Confederate shooters also killed two men on a passing train but the paymaster jumped from the train and hid in the woods all night to evade capture. Despite taking Confederate fire, "the train never stopped," the report added.

Saturday, June 9

I'd like to give the world a doll

Did you know today is World Doll Day?


Neither does most of the world.

Mildred Seeley, who 
lived in both upstate New York and Green Valley, Ariz., never visited the countries where her beloved dolls were made. Yet, she built an international network of doll lovers and a world-class doll collection.

She was widely recognized as a primary force in raising the profile of antique doll collecting and increasing the value of antique dolls. In 1986, Seeley initiated the designation of the second Saturday in June as World Doll Day.

This is her letter:

So, you haven't heard of World Doll Day? This is not surprising. As of an hour ago, I hadn't conceived the idea. Bob Isbell, who does my printing, says when I ask for something to be done by tomorrow, "I'll make it hap­pen," This is what l would like to do with World Doll Day - make it hap­pen. I need only one thing - COOPERATION! I need cooperation of every doll collector, every magazine editor, doll newsletter, doll shop, library, dollmaker, mother, grand­mother, father, grandfather, and all the stray aunts and uncles. The first World Doll Day is the Second Saturday of June 1986. I am getting a doll ready to give. If you don't have a child to give a doll to - find one. There are many children with no dolls. Give a doll to a grownup child in the family or just a friend. 
Think of it this way, and ship a doll to another country. I have always felt that the common doll could be an instrument of world understanding. From the time I first started writing books on dollmaking, I had the hope that dolls would help make friends all over the world and develop a little love among all.

World Doll Day will also be a day for doll exhibits. It is my hope that all libraries will have a special doll exhibit; museums will publicize their doll exhibits and have special exhibits at this time. Magazines will put out special editions. Doll stores will put on selling campaigns weeks ahead. Dollmakers will make special dolls for World Doll Day. There will be doll competitions with World Doll Day awards, plaques and trophies.

The logo is made from artist Boots Tyner's doll representing a child. The child carries a German bisque doll to represent this doll col­lector's gift. Feel free to copy the logo or have more made.

Everyone can join the fun, as there are no fees, no permission needed, no obligations, nobody owns the day, no club, no company. It's a free-for-all. Take up the day, its ideas and fly with it. Let's do it now - World Doll Day.

If you think World Doll Day is a good idea, then appoint yourself a committee of one to do something about it - only then can it become a reality. Would you tell five people, ask them to tell five people and each of them tell five more and so on. World Doll Day's birthday is June 14, 1986.

Sincerely, Mil and Vernon Seeley

P.S. This letter may be copied, and copied, again and again, until the world knows about World Doll Day.

Seeley died in 2001 so let's see what we can do to spread the word.

Friday, June 8

Happy birthday, Kirsten ~ June 8, 1845

Happy birthday, Kirsten!

Kirsten's excited about the changes spring is bringing to the Larsons’ farm—including a big barn and a tiny baby. But changes bring new worries and more work, too. First Kirsten is afraid for Mama’s health. Then caring for a baby seems to mean nothing but chores. Kirsten has to miss school to help at home, and she can’t help with the surprise she and her friends are planning for their teacher. Will her friends forget all about her? But Kirsten’s hard work is rewarded with a day of fun—and a special birthday surprise.

Wednesday, June 6

R is for R.I.P.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Another literary giant has gone to the Great Library in the Sky.

American fantasy, horror, science fiction, and mystery writer Ray Bradbury has died at age 91.

Bradbury was one of the most celebrated 20th century writers, best known for his 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 and for the science fiction stories gathered together as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951).

Many of Bradbury's works have been adapted into television shows or moving pictures.

I personally love this quote from Bradbury:

"I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library."


Tuesday, June 5

Sweet Caroline

Momma is such a history geek.

Right now she's happily channeling her inner Neil Diamond:

Where it began,
I can't begin to knowin'
But then I know it's growing strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along.

Why? Because it has just been confirmed at BookExpo America that the next historical American Girl doll to be released in September 2012 is named Caroline Abbott and based in 1812.

Hmm, just in time for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812?

So far we don't know what Caroline will look like, but girls in 1812 would wear Regency clothing similar to Josefina's.

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

Monday, June 4

What a doll

I want to introduce you to my very special Older Sister. Her name is Belinda and she is an Arranbee composition baby doll.

Composition dolls like her are easily found, but what makes Belinda special is her story.

Although Belinda is American, her story begins in Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, was a series of attacks against Jews on Nov. 9–10, 1938 carried out by stormtroopers and civilians throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues.

A Jewish friend of Momma's grandfather had family in Germany that suffered after Kristallnacht, so he asked Momma's grandfather if he would provide a job if they came to the United States.

At that time, the United States was only permitting Jewish refugees if they had a sponsor who would provide a job. 

(You doubt me? The German ocean liner St. Louis, carrying 937 Jewish refugees seeking political asylum from Nazi persecution, was denied permission to land in the United States on June 4, 1939. Cuba and Canada also refused the refugees. Various European countries eventually accepted the refugees, but approximately 254 passengers were to later die at the hands of the Nazis.)

Momma's grandfather agreed to sponsor his friend's family and called in a political favor from Ohio's U.S. Senator Robert Taft, but (without thinking) asked if the refugees would bring a doll for his daughter.

Momma's aunt, who was about 10 at the time, wasn't interested in baby dolls but had a formidable collection of international dolls.

But the Jewish refugees were fleeing for their lives and German authorities confiscated most of their belongings as they left the country, so when they arrived in New York City they bought Momma's aunt an Arranbee composition baby doll.

A doll's a doll, right?

The Arranbee 
(R&B) Doll Company was located in New York and made bisque, composition, rubber, hard plastic and vinyl dolls. Composition was made out of sawdust, glue, and other materials such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour.

Sadly, Momma's aunt was not too impressed with her composition baby doll and Belinda spent about 30 years languishing in an antique trunk in a damp basement where Momma eventually found her.

Belinda's composition is cracking and her voice box stopped working years ago, but she's still special in our eyes.

Sunday, June 3

This Week in The Civil War: June 3, 1862

Naval battle of Memphis

This week 150 years ago in the Civil War opens with Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beuregard ordering his troops to abandon Fort Pillow in Tennessee and, soon after, nearby Memphis. Federal forces have recently seized the nearby northeast Mississippi rail junction of Corinth, prompting Beauregard's move. His forces remove guns and supplies from Fort Pillow as they begin their withdrawal. Union forces occupying Corinth essentially control a key railroad line, several rail links between Memphis and other points in the South. On June 6, 1862, Union gunboats and rams on the Mississippi River open up the naval battle of Memphis before dawn, approaching from just north of that city. In an hour and a half of fighting, the Union sinks or captures all but one of the Confederate vessels - mostly converted river steamers - that are seeking to defend Memphis. Spectators line the riverbanks, watching the battle that opens with long-range volleys from the federal attackers. The fight descends into shooting and chaotic attempts at close range by opposing ships to ram rival vessels. The Confederate fleet is defeated. Soon after, the Union flag is raised in Memphis as the city surrenders. A vital Southern city and trading center on the Mississippi has fallen into Union hands. The Associated Press, in a dispatch June 13, 1862, reports the destruction is great around Corinth as the Union takes control there. "The Confederate army has stripped, for food, the whole country north of Corinth, and many of the inhabitants are in a starving condition," AP reports. It adds Confederate forces retreating from the Union forces left behind "half burned locomotives" and spies and deserters report the Confederate army there to be "greatly disorganized, mutinous and deserting."

Saturday, June 2

Diamonds are a queen's best friend

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. She is currently queen regnant of 16 sovereign states, 12 of which were British colonies or Dominions at the start of her reign.

Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926 in London, and educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne as George VI in 1936 on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. She began to undertake public duties during the World War II, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

On Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth received the news of her father's death and her own accession to the throne, while staying at the Treetops Hotel in Kenya. (Momma's grandmother once stayed in the same room!)

The Coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, conducted by Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Crowds of people viewed the procession all along the route, despite heavy rain. The ceremony was also broadcast on radio around the world and, at the Queen's request, on television for the first time. 

Grandmomma remembers going to a friend's house to watch the coronation since her family didn't have a television set!

Queen Victoria in 1897 is the only other monarch in the history of the United Kingdom to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee.