As a child, I never owned a Raggedy Ann doll. I can’t say that I ever wanted one, although I had friends that had one. Although I knew who Raggedy Ann was, knew of the story, I never asked for one. I had a couple of baby dolls that I loved dearly, so the absence of Ann was not an issue.
About fifteen years ago, I was at an estate sale, one of many that I have loved to attend, usually with no real purpose. I happened across a small Raggedy Ann doll. Picking her up and looking at her briefly, I thought how cute she was. I admired her black button eyes, embroidered triangle of a nose, and her little pinafore and flowered dress. And look! She was wearing bloomers over her red and white striped socks! I put her down and continued my search for nothing in particular. As I continued around the house, that little doll’s face kept appearing in my head.
Suddenly, I had an urge to go back and find her. As I made my way back to the table where she had been placed, I was worried that someone might have picked her up after seeing those button eyes peering at them from among the numerous items that also needed homes. But there she was. The cheerful smile on her face pleaded with me to take her home.
And so I did. As if under a spell from her charm, I began what became a passion. Raggedy Ann, Raggedy Andy, the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees. All forms of dolls. Handmade dolls, new dolls, old dolls, those found in second hand stores, collector dolls, and even dolls from different eras. Raggedy Ann on tea sets, lamps, and as nutcrackers. A whole new world had been discovered! I was obsessed.
As with many obsessions, I had to gain control. My collection is one of my prized possessions. And that little face in all of its various forms still brings me a joy that I cannot understand or explain. Some things just are.
Now, instead of buying Ann or Andy for myself, my first gift to my grandbabies is a Raggedy doll. I hope each one finds joy in her bright black button eyes and the love she shares from her little heart.