|T. J. Robinson's Gingerbread House, specialized in gourmet Cajun cuisine and was located in Oakland, California and open for business, circa 1974 through 2007.|
Thanks to a member of my doll group and founder of her own Facebook group, Laverne's Original Holiday Festival of Dolls, I learned about restaurant owner and doll maker, T. J. Robinson, who sold dolls through the gift shop of her restaurant.
After I posted information about the Festival of Black Dolls Show and Sale to be held in Oakland, California on November 12, 2016, Laverne recalled the following:
Years ago, I attend their doll shows in Oakland. I will have to check it out. Auntie Grace belonged to the club and was a collector. We would meet for dinner at T. J. Robinson's Gingerbread House in Oakland for dinner. This was a restaurant that was completely decorated with T. J. dolls and you had to make reservations weeks in advance. There were dolls all over the restaurant and the food was delicious. I will try to go through my photographs and look for this group and hopefully photos of Auntie Grace. Thanks for the Festival information. I did Holiday Festival of Black Dolls in Oakland and San Leandro several years running.
|The second doll from the left, in the article image, resembles the one I located online.|
|T. J. Robinson doll has embroidery-stitched face and star-shaped pupils.|
After the doll arrived, I was rather disappointed with the condition of the white dress, which required an immediate hand washing to remove years of grime and to hopefully brighten the concentrated area of yellowing under the right arm of the dress. This was not clearly noticeable in the seller's photos and was not mentioned in the item description. Soaking the dress in a basin of hot water with a mixture of liquid laundry detergent and OxyClean, rinsing it, and allowing it to hang dry resolved my disappointment.
After the dress dried, I ironed it with a warm iron and straightened out several of the ribbon accents with the iron. After redressing, she looked as good as I imagine she looked the day she was created. Because of the poor fit and their newer-than-the-doll's appearance, the white patent-leather sandals she was wearing did not look original to the doll. I removed those and will replace with white knit booties. For now her feet are bare.
|Before redressing the doll, this photo and the next were taken to illustrate how her body is constructed.|
|This photo of the satin body tag on the doll's bottom, taken by the seller, confirms the doll is "A Gingerbread House Original Copyright 1974." The physical address of the restaurant is also included on the tag.|
|One last close-up of Tee-Jay, which is what I named her|
Unfortunately, I will never have an opportunity to meet or speak with Ms. Robinson, who passed away on June 12, 2011. Patrons of her gingerbread house*, which opened in the mid 1970s and remained open until 2007, will undoubtedly remember her fondly. Those (like me) who own a Gingerbread House Original doll, handmade with love by T. J. Robinson, will remember her fondly. too.
*Musician, songwriter, Chuck Mangione was so enamored by T. J. Robinson's Gingerbread House that he wrote a song about it, the lyrics of which can be read here. (The song mentions her dolls!)
Check out my eBay listings here.