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Black Americana, Doll, Primitive Doll, Black Doll, Mammy Doll, Negro, Patriotic, Faceless, Red, White, Cherries, Church Dolls, 1940's Fabric

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Black Americana, Doll, Primitive Doll, Black Doll, Mammy Doll, Negro, Patriotic, Faceless, Red, White, Cherries, Church Dolls, 1940's Fabric. Handmade Gothic and Primitive dolls by thecattsuglybabies on Etsy.


Silent Church Dolls!

You might be asking yourself what a Silent Church Doll is....

Back when I was little I used to go to church once in a while with my grandmother. She and other mothers used to give us children soft, silent toys to play with. The soft toys were called 'silent' toys because they made no noise when banged on the pews or dropped on the floor.
Brilliant idea.
This way the playing children didn't disrupt and distract, or annoy, everyone else.
:-)

These Silent Church Dolls measures about 11½ inches tall. They are made from muslin, stuffed firmly, painted brown, and the other painted black, sanded, 'aged' and waxed. As I've stated before, this waxing technique makes the items look like they were made of worn leather. I love it.

And something else about these faceless Church dolls....they feel and remind me of the old rubber baby dolls that were popular when I was a child. I can't stop feeling these dolls.
:-)

The dolls also wear a metal rimmed paper tag that reads DOLL. And they wear an 'aged' dress. They have a nice weight to her, too. The floral dress is made from 1940's cotton fabric.

I wrote a little story about my Church Dolls...

The old church had fallen into disrepair and soon it would be torn down. The congregation spent years raising the money to have a new one built.
There were bake sales and revivals, Homecoming suppers, prayer meetings, and covered dish dinners. There were many biscuits, chicken and dumplings, green snap beans, turnips, fat back, corn bread, and macaroni salad served to the members of the community.

The work was hard, the years were long, and four congregation members went to Beulah Land, but eventually the money was raised.

It was late one Sunday night, and the very last meeting was held at 6:00 pm. It was a bittersweet meeting. There were tears of joy for moving into the new church, and tears of sadness in leaving behind the old church.
Many members of the congregation spent their whole lives in this church. Many were married here, and many were buried here, as well.

Sister Maimie Gooden was one of the oldest members of the congregation. She had agreed to stay behind and pick up a few last minute things. It would be the last time she or anyone would ever be in this church again. She wanted to spend some time alone here....alone with her thoughts and memories.

At 84 years old it had become so hard for Maimie to walk around, but she wasn't going to miss this opportunity. After all, she took her first steps in this church as an infant. She grew up here, was married here, buried two husbands here, and witnessed the marriages of her children here....all within the very walls of this old church.

She walked in-between the old wooden pews and ran her knobby hands along the smooth surface. She closed her eyes and thought of how many hands had touched those very places.
She found herself in her favorite section of the church and carefully lowered herself to sit down.

To say that this was a 'spirited' congregation would be an understatement. These were some very 'happy' folks. There were shouts of joy that filled these walls...shouts of 'amen', 'hallelujah', and 'praise the Lord'.
This was also a congregation of talkers.
They talked right along with the preacher...."Uh-huh, say it brother, that's the truth, yes sir, say it for the Lord!"
And the more 'fired up' the preacher got, the louder the congregation got.

Maimie settled herself to rest for a while. She picked up a hymnal and held it close to her chest. The spine of the old book had been mended many times by her.

One of the things she used to do after the meetings was to pick up the damaged Bibles and hymnals and take them home with her. While sitting on the front porch she'd carefully take a portion of heavy duty tape and mend the old books.

The congregation had always been poor and new books were something they couldn't consider, financially.
But Maimie Gooden would see to it that each book was lovingly repaired and put back into place for the next generation to enjoy.

Maimie looked a little further down the pew and found a small old handkerchief. It had been gathered and tied into a knot. Inside the handkerchief were some coins. It was probably given to a child before the meeting and they forgot to put it into the offering plate.
Maimie smiled at the memory because her own mother used to do the same thing with her...and right in this very church.

Sister Maimie Gooden took a deep breath and sighed out loud to herself. She looked around from where she was sitting and she could almost hear the ghosts and voices from many decades ago of families and events.
She could almost hear the wedding vows and funeral speeches.
She could almost hear the children's well-rehearsed plays at Christmas time.
She could almost hear the out-of-tune piano and even the bad singing of Sister Jackson.
She gave a small chuckle at the thought.

Yes, the building was old, but the memories were an incredible treasure that would stay in her heart until her last breath of life. While the others were eager to begin their meetings in the new church, Sister Maimie Gooden would have been content to stay here where she felt she belonged.

Just as Maimie was raising herself from the pew to leave, her eyes caught sight of something sticking out from under a small pile of Sunday School papers on the plank-wood floor. She sat back down, slid over, and bent down to pick the item up.
Her heart leapt like that of a child.

She couldn't believe what she was holding in her hands, after all this time. It was a gathering of two silent church dolls. She had made them herself many decades ago when she was bringing her own small children to church on Sunday meetings.

She began to sniffle as tears welled in her eyes. She couldn't even remember the last time she saw these dollies. There was an old closet in the annex of the church and it held a box full of silent toys.....the kind of toys that you could give your children during the meetings and they wouldn't be noisy. They were usually cloth-type dolls and other interesting items like animals and such.

Restless children are usually kept entertained if they have something to play with. And with cloth toys, even if they fell on the floor, the congregation wouldn't be disturbed.

Maimie had made these dolls herself long, long ago. And it felt good to hold them in her hands again. She held them close to her and closed her eyes to remember.

She remembered making the dolls from her children's old clothes.

And now the old dolls looked so loved and 'played with'. She could only imagine the many children who enjoyed those faceless silent church dolls during those long meetings.

Maimie imagined the scorching hot summers with the church windows opened wide, the ladies fanning themselves, the men mopping their brow with their hankies, and little girls dressed in white and playing with the silent dolls.

She gathered the two dolls together and tied them with a discarded piece of stained cotton cloth.

Maimie could smell the dust in the air and the linger of Honeysuckle perfume from the ladies who were there earlier in the evening. It was a calming scent and Maimie was allowing her many memories to almost lull her off to sleep.

As Maimie sat all the way back in the pew, hugging her old dolls, she smiled as she thought of her favorite hymnal. It was an old song, written back in the year 1913 by George Bennard....."The Old Rugged Cross".
In her mind she could hear the beautiful voice of her favorite singer, Mary White....her angelic voice sang softly, in an echoed 'a cappella'.....


On a hill far away
Stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross,
Where the dearest and best,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Maimie Gooden's eyes welled with tears again. The memories with this song were too many to count.
She closed her eyes and allowed the angelic solo to continue in her mind....

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Sister Maimie Gooden was found the next morning, still holding her old dolls, and wearing the smile of a satisfied soul. An old tattered hymnal was beside her, opened to the song The Old Rugged Cross.
She had given up her own 'rugged cross' and exchanged it for a 'crown' of her own.
But don't think of this as a sad story. Sister Maimie Gooden began her life in that old church, and she slipped away peacefully in the very place she loved so dearly.

Copyright © April 14, 2004 and April 12, 2011 / Catt Alexander

Very special thanks to my own grandmother who used to mend the hymnals in her beloved church. She inspired me to make these dolls.
Her favorite song was The Old Rugged Cross.
May she rest in peace.


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And the stories are probably not even true!

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Black Americana, Doll, Primitive Doll, Black Doll, Mammy Doll, Negro, Patriotic, Faceless, Red, White, Cherries, Church Dolls, 1940's Fabric


Overview

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: muslin, stuffing, fabric, paper tag, doily thread, paint, wax
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 851 reviews
  • Favorited by: 30 people