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From the 1,000th Hill No. 35 Claire’s story.

FTH-35-1-Photobombed-by-a-cat-and-two-geese
Photobombed-by-a-cat-and-two-geese

In the mid 1950s, when my sister and I were about 7 and 8 our parents bought us matching dolls.

They were the brand new walking, eye closing, head moving side to side as she walked, bend over “Mamma” sound, Pedigree 16 inch dolls.

Mine had blonde hair, and I named her Claire.

Gays’ had darker hair and she named hers Pamela, after our cousins !!

We had great fun making and knitting clothes for them over the years, little girls trying out ‘fashions’ on our dollies. Nana helped us make nighties for them, and I remember knitting a fairisle jumper, but it has been lost in the mists of time.

FTH-35-2-Nanas-nightie
Nanas-nightie

She moved everywhere with me, and, when we came to South Africa in 1977, she was one of the precious things I brought with me from the UK along with a little Rosebud doll and some other precious items.

We settled on the Bluff to raise our two wonderful children, and the dolls lived in our daughter’s bedroom.

One day, about 30 years ago, they disappeared mysteriously – I think she was stolen, along with “Rosebud” and various items

At the time, I was heartbroken at losing one of the oldest connections to my childhood.

In my heart I always hoped they would show up and when we went to charity or second hand shops, I would scour the shelves.

4 years ago we were in our local Collectables shop, and I saw a doll that was the image of my ‘Claire’ but had brown hair. We left, but the next day I persuaded John to take me back and I had a closer look. She had the same broken ‘mama’ sound, the same features. Blonde hair under the new brown wig, which some child had since cut very badly, and the dirty toes I remembered too.

My friend, who owned the shop, Sandy Randles Martin says .. “She was brought into my shop to be sold from a reputable person. She had been in someones collection for more than 20 years, which fitted the timeline, too.

She must have been cared for, because someone has tried to fix her hair and knitted pretty clothes. Next thing I know, she is in Sandy’s shop – I wasn’t sure at first, but it looks sooo much like my Claire, and it feels right. Memory may have faded and it’s wishful thinking, but I doubt there would be many like it in the country as these dolls are circa 1955 or so.

For R200, I had my treasured friend back again, and I set about knitting her new clothes, thoroughly enjoying the reunion.

FTH-35-3-Glamour-girl
Glamour-girl

Anyway she is snuggled up with her own little doll now ( one that I knitted ages ago ) xx

When I took her to the UK with me to compare with my sisters I told the story to all my friends, and dear Louise Mairs bought me the book about Hitty the lost peg doll.

As you can see, they don’t look the same, but it makes no difference to the love I have for this Claire. I hope my original is as loved and cared for.

FTH-35-4-Sisters-reunited
Sisters-reunited

You know how I love knitting, so I found some patterns online and started clicking needles. Fortunately I could use up many odd balls to make her all sorts of clothes.

My little grandson would chose an outfit for her each morning from the bag of clothes I took over, and I can tell you now, that that bag is bulging !!

FTH-35-5-What-a-wardrobe
What-a-wardrobe

I have since knitted her an extensive wardrobe for the various seasons we have here in Botha’s Hill, and I am still knitting for her !!

FTH-35-6-Fun-with-a-pattern
Fun-with-a-pattern

So, the story of this Claire ends happily, whether she is my original doll or not, she has brought me great joy in my dotage.

Love, as always,

Mim

xx