Dolls and My Mother's Cherished Dionne Quintuplet One Named Annette
To her dying day, my mother cherished her Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette which also became a part of my memories growing up because of seeing it from my earliest years and up until this very day of writing. It and the little wicker cradle graced her bedroom in our current home which we shared together with my husband.
That very special doll had been given to my mother when she was still a little girl and she had kept it all the days of her life. It had obviously been played with in a robust manner and bears the scars of those joyful times.
My mother always loved dolls and was sorely disappointed that I was more of a tomboy when I was growing up. Back in those days I much preferred being outside climbing a tree, riding a bicycle, drawing a picture or reading a book than spending my precious time playing with dolls.
I do remember playing with paper dolls for a while, crimping the tabs of paper when changing outfits...but that never held my interest for long. My mother enjoyed those moments spent with her first born little girl doing more feminine things.
My two brothers who followed in birth order could have cared less about playing with dolls...paper or any kind for that matter.
We would sit at the kitchen table in our Wisconsin country home and we would evaluate the appearance of the paper cut out boys and girls with their newly attached paper frocks and talk about which ones we preferred.
We would be saying things like this: I think a pink hat on that little girl would make her dress look even prettier! Should we put a coat on her? It might be cold outside when she goes to church.
Those simple times of playing with my mother and paper dolls are treasured memories even though those play-times were not frequent.
Image of Paper Dolls
A special double door glassed cabinet with multiple shelves held all sorts of special elaborately dressed bisque storybook dolls mounted on pedestals. They decorated my bedroom and were gifts to me when I was a child.
Many of these 5 to 6 inch dolls were dressed in costumes appropriate to the countries they represented. Some of my favorites were dressed as brides and bridesmaids.
It was just part of the landscape as far as I was concerned as I rarely touched them muchless played with them. They were colorful and pretty however. Today as collector's items had those original storybook dolls been kept they would be worth some money.
Did you have a favorite doll when you were growing up that you have kept and cherished?
One time only did I wish to have a certain type of doll. We were at a church carnival fair in the 1950s and fundraising tickets were purchased in booklets. My parents gave an equal amount of individual tickets to my brothers and me to be used for whatever we wished.
Pony rides, cotton candy, chances at winning stuffed animals by playing games are examples of some of the entertainment and could be accessed by using our tickets. I used up almost all of my tickets on the chance of winning a walking doll that looked a bit like Shirley Temple with blond curly hair. Since I was not exactly a doll aficionado,I had never previously seen a walking doll that could ambulate right along next to me as I held her hand. That special doll really captured my fancy that day!
Did I win it? No. Some little girl that had only used one of her tickets ended up winning the doll. Lesson learned on taking chances! To this day I am not much of a gambler.
Later, probably for my birthday or Christmas, I was given that very doll as a gift from my thoughtful parents. My mother was probably so delighted thinking that finally she had her little girl interested in playing with dolls! How long did it hold my attention? Little more than a nano-second.
All of my dolls including that life sized walking doll (which probably cost my parents a pretty penny) were given to some neighbors who were delighted to receive them when at my age of just turning 13 my parents and grandparents moved our families from Wisconsin to Texas.
While I got rid of all of my dolls my mother kept her very special Dionne Quintuplet doll and it continued to move with her from home to home as the years and her circumstances changed. Obviously Annette meant a lot to her!
With all of the hard use through the years Annette's doll eyes had become crazed and were a bit scary looking to me when I was young.
There are cracks in her molded head, and some wear and tear on other parts of her body as well.
My grandmother had sewn clothes for her and at one time she had many different outfits according to the stories I had heard from my mother. All that now remains is a jumper or pajama and a robe in addition to some knitted little booties.
My niece who also remembers growing up and seeing the Dionne Quintuplet doll and wicker carriage always at her grandma's house will now take ownership of this cherished doll the next time she comes here for a visit. That and the bronzed baby shoes that I recently wrote about are just some of the mementos that it will be nice for her to have and hopefully keep in the family.
People all around the world became fascinated with the newsworthy event of the birth of identical girl quintuplets on May 28, 1934 in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Dafoe with the help of two midwives delivered the quints who were 2 months premature. The largest baby girl was only 3 pounds and 4 ounces.
The Dionne Quints were the first known identical females to be born and survive and this was long before the days of in vitro fertilization where multiple births have since become more commonplace.
What subsequently happened to them would probably never be allowed to occur in this day and age.
- After they were only 4 months of age, the Dionne Quintuplets were taken away from their parents and made wards of the Ontario government for the next 9 years under the Dionne Quintuplet's Guardian Act of 1935.
- A media frenzy began recording their every movement and milestone.
- An entire tourist industry was built by the Ontario government and Dr. Dafoe revolving around the little quintuplets.
The Dionne Quintuplets
- Across the street from their birthplace a 9 room nursery was built and soon about 6,000 people a day could view the girls via an observation room.
- Little Yvonne, Annette, Marie, Cecile and Emilie were dressed identically and graced the cover of Life Magazine several times when that magazine only cost 10 cents.
- Picture books were published as well as calendars and postcards showing the little quintuplets.
- Various advertisements such as ones for Quaker Oats and Karo syrup featured the Dionne Quintuplets.
- Spoon sets and cereal bowls with the girls names on them were sold.
- Movie films were eventually made about the famous Dionne Quints.
- Dolls were made and many children besides my mother would have received them as gifts. They were made in various sizes and probably the best known manufacturer of them were by Madame Alexander.
My mother's doll is around 19 inches long and the head, arms and legs are all movable. The eyes open and close depending upon if Annette is upright or supine. Her size is almost like that of a real baby and many little girls in addition to my mother would have liked playing with these dolls.
With the media attention being focused on the Dionne Quintuplets for so many years of their early lives this would have continually helped to spur the purchase of products labeled with their names.
- The Canadian government supposedly made about a half billion dollars from the promotion of the Dionne Quintuplets!
Where the Dionne Quintuplets were Born
Exploitation of the Dionne Quintuplets
These darling little girls were never allowed to live normal lives and were forced to live in a fish bowl environment for all of their early years.
Quintland where they were raised and as it became known generated literally millions of dollars for the Canadian government and Dr. Dafoe also profited.
The girls were never paid a dime! After 9 years of fighting to get custody of their quintuplets back the Dionne sisters were reunited with the rest of their family but this also did not end happily. Abuse of the girls allegedly took place. As soon as they were able at ages 18 the Dionne quintuplets left their home never to return.
Dionne Quintuplet Doll
Now you know a little more about some of the dolls in my life and also the one especially cherished by my mother...the Dionne Quintuplet doll named Annette.
What do you think of how the Dionne Quintuplets were raised?
Story of the Dionne Quintuplets
© 2010 Peggy Woods