After being introduced to Edie May several months ago by my favorite paper doll artist, Diana Eufrasio Vining, purchasing one had been on my to-do list until this past Friday when I took a moment to revisit Diana’s website. After seeing Edie May and several other paper doll items, I placed my order. I recalled that one of Diana’s favorite teachers was the inspiration for her creation but I wanted to know the in-depth story behind the inspiration. So, after my too-cute, adorable, precious, little paper girl arrived yesterday with her delightful, dress-like-dolly-inspired clothing, I e-mailed Diana and asked,
Can you refresh my memory on Edie May's inspiration? Wasn't she named after a favorite teacher? Thanks!
Yes, she is named for Edith Mayner, who was the best teacher ever! She was African American, and since she never married or had kids, she treated ALL children as her own, regardless of race or background. She was my brother's teacher before I even went to school, so she became a family friend. I knew her since I was a toddler, and we always stayed in touch… she ALWAYS encouraged me to do something with my art [and] taught me to make sure to represent all types of God's people in my artwork.
In more recent years, I discovered that she had become a doll collector! So we put on a doll show (mostly black dolls) for the elementary school children. The last time I saw her alive was when she (and her sister Dorothy, who was principal when I was in elementary school) attended my wedding in 2005.
Everyone in my hometown of Roselle, NJ knew the Mayner sisters. They were so involved in the school system and did SO MUCH for the community. I believe they made a special scholarship in Edith's honor at the time of her passing.
Edith Mayner was such a great inspiration to me, and I love her dearly. I know she would have loved to see the "Edie May" paper doll. Sorry for the long answer, but it is so sweet to just think back on what a great person she was (is).
I was awe-inspired and compelled to share this beautiful story. Edie May, the paper doll, is a wonderful way for Diana to preserve treasured memories of this extraordinary educator. We need more educators like her!
I am honored to own the Edie May paper doll sheet, which includes several extra outfits, dolls, and bed. I will forever treasure it and its provenance.
PS I typed this blog in Microsoft Word before publishing it here. I attempted to save the document as "Edie May" but discovered I already had an "Edie May Paper Doll" document. I opened it and immediately understood why I knew the paper doll represented one of Diana’s former teachers. The document contains a note from Diana that was posted to my WeLoveBlackDolls message board on 03/05/09. It reads:
In case your [March/April 2009] Doll Castle News hasn't arrived yet, just wanted to give you a heads up that they have been shipped. This is the issue with a special focus on black dolls.
The paper doll, Edie May, was created by me and is a tribute to Ms. Edith Mayner, my teacher and lifelong friend who taught me the importance and beauty of diversity. She was an extraordinary AA woman, and very beloved in the community. In recent years I discovered that she had begun collecting black dolls, so we had even more in common then. I'm so sorry to say that she passed on in 2005, but she remains one of the greatest influences in my life. So I just wanted to share that, so you know about the inspiration behind this paper doll.
If you don't get Doll Castle News, you can check it out at http://www.dollcastlemagazine.com/. You can subscribe, or just get the single issue if you like.Amazing! I saved this message because I knew I would eventually own Edie May. ◦