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.

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