Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Dollhouse Fun from the 1950s

First, meet Mrs. Bendy, the dollhouse mother. Notice that she has plastic legs that bend at the knees, and her arms also bend. That's why we called her Mrs. Bendy. Mr. Bendy, the dollhouse father, wore a blue suit. We had a lot of little pink babies and also a bigger brother and sister. They all lived in our doll house.

Mr. and Mrs. Bendy were about three inches tall. Mr. Bendy's leg was broken, and had been mended with tape, so he could not sit down comfortably. The babies were about 1 inch tall.

I found these photos on the web, showing stencilled metal dollhouses like ours with furniture pretty much like the furniture we had (and of course the photo of Mrs. Bendy). I learned that the house came from a factory in New York called T. Cohn, and a toy company called Renwal made our dollhouse furniture and dolls.

Elaine and I got our dollhouse for a present one Christmas when we were very little, and played with it for a long time. Our dollhouse had six rooms and a porch. Each room had plastic furniture. It looked pretty much like the furniture in these photos (though some of the photos with furniture are of a different type of dollhouse).

Dollhouse Interiors

Mr. and Mrs. Bendy's bedroom had beds and a dresser with mirror. I clearly remember the funny little lamps for their bedside tables.

A full bathroom set included a clothes hamper -- something we didn't have in our own house.

The Bendys had couches, chairs, tables, a radio, lamps (that didn't light up), and a phone for the livingroom. I think they also had something that's unusual in homes today: an ash tray on a stand. People back then (and I guess dolls) smoked cigarettes in their houses, and placed the ashes in an ash tray.

In the kitchen were a stove, refrigerator, sink, table, and chairs. The refrigerator did not open up, it was just a plastic shell. The dining room had a table, chairs and a buffet, but I haven't found a good picture of that type of furniture.
In the children's room were a crib, baby buggy, potty chair, and a playpen for the many babies and some toys like a tricycle.

The dollhouse windows were all made of metal, as was the outside, with pictures stencilled on the insides of the rooms, the floors, and the walls.

I think my favorite dollhouse item was the floor-model radio. I used to hold it up to my ear and pretend that I could hear music. I had this radio and a few other things before we got the metal dollhouse. My mother had made us a dollhouse out of an orange crate. She painted the crate dark green on the outside, and put light blue wallpaper in the rooms. There was only one big room upstairs and one downstairs in the orange crate, and the ceiling was much too high. The next photo shows me riding my tricycle next to the very orange crate that became a dollhouse. The back of the photo says so!

I don't remember what happened to our dollhouse, except that my mother gave it to other children when she thought we were too old for it.

The dollhouse that I have now is very different from the one we had as children, except for one baby that somehow was never given away. This baby now has different toys, a different crib, and a different family, but she doesn't mind: after all, she's old enough to be a grandma!

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