Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Loved: Childhood Friends

#a month of moments
22. Loved
When I was little we lived in various caravan parks in heavy industrial towns around Australia as my father pursued his career as a construction electrician; Port Kembla in NSW where the steel industry is town's lifeblood, Mount Isa, the red heart of Outback Queensland and an obscure place called Saraji, about 100 miles inland from Mackay in Queensland, the home of a massive open cut coal mine. I had a constant companion during these years, my teddy who I gave the highly original name of Ted.

My Dad documented my childhood with his super eight camera and there are blurry movies of me running down endless hills swinging teddy by the hand. Me swinging upside down on some jungle gym which wouldn't get Occupational Health and Safety approval today showing my knickers with teddy sitting safely propped against a pole at the base looking out for me. Me curled up sleepily somewhere with teddy tucked under my arm and my thumb firmly in my mouth.
I still have teddy. He lost an eye somewhere and I replaced it with a blue paint thumbprint. His growler gave up the ghost. His fur is threadbare and the oil cloth pads on his paws wore out. A few years ago I launched a teddy rescue mission and totally restored him with new hands and feet, eyes and nose and fresh stuffing. He still shows the signs of being firmly and unconditionally loved but may now live to survive many more years yet.

But Ted wasn't an only child. Somewhere in my early years, Susie also came along. Susie was my other constant playmate. She is 15 inches tall (39 cm) about America Girl sized but she was made in England. (It even says so on the back of her head). The weirdest thing about Susie has always been the fact that she has white hair - old lady hair on young girl doll.
The suitcase here holding Susie's clothes is my first school suitcase, or port as we called them in New South Wales.
I nibbled off several of Susie's fingers. Her hair is matted and there is evidence of someone's amateur hairdressing skills. She gives a new definition to the problem of cracked heels. Her arm hangs on by the barest thread. My children have done something to one of her eyes and it doesn't open or close properly anymore and these days her expression is just plain creepy. She badly needs the attention of an expert doll plastic surgeon. But I still love her.
Susie in her winter underwear

I honed my dressmaking skills dressing Susie. When I was little, my Mum made her clothes and Teddy would cross dress in Susie's clothes. As I got older, I learned to sew and the rudiments of pattern drafting from my Grandmother who was a professional seamstress. I remember being able to rummage through her precious offcuts and trimmings to make Susie clothes. Not many of these gorgeous but somewhat shoddily made creations survived to this day.
This was my first dress I made on a sewing machine.
As my own children grew, I raided my Mum's collection of antique doll's clothes knitting patterns and made Susie a new wardrobe. I even made Susie and the girls matching outfits.
Nightie and Dressing gown
This outfit was original made for the boy's defunct knitted boy doll "Man". They also fit Teddy when he wants to dress up and the cable cardie fits Susie too.
Underwear and socks
Some of the wardrobe
The girls had matching outfits to this.
I love how I have my childhood memories packed into my childhood suitcase.

1 comment:

  1. How lovely. Nice to know I'm not the only grown woman with a somewat ratty and well-loved children's doll lurking in the house..


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