Friday, June 2, 2017

Betty Ativie's Patty-Jo

Box 1 and Box 2 contained birthday gifts from Betty Ativie.
The Wednesday before my birthday, I received a text message from doll-sister-friend Betty Ativie, which urged me to take a trip to the post office (PO) sometime that week.  The photo of two packages was attached to the text message.  I informed Betty of my plan to visit the PO that Friday.  However, that same day, my husband brought the packages home after checking our shared PO box that afternoon.  I was good and waited until the actual day of my birth to open the packages.  However, I did not follow Betty's explicit instructions to open the boxes in numerical order.

Engaged in a conversation with my mother at the time, I decided to open the packages.  Box #2 was opened first and I thought to myself, about the lovely hand-sewn dresses, shoes, hair ribbons, tights, and gold stud earrings:  I'll have to find a doll to wear these. Little did I know that concealed inside box #1 was the doll for whom these items were intended.

After seeing the hand-sewn doll made especially for me, I was deeply filled with gratitude that Betty had taken the required time to make not only the doll but also the doll's wig, full slip, undies, and five different dresses.  The note that accompanied the doll indicates Betty's initial intention to send the doll only, but she must have realized there was enough time to make the clothing that box #2 contained.

I chuckled at the doll's shared story and was doll-lighted that she wanted to hurry and get to her new home. After her arrival, she let me know her name was to be Patty-Jo, and there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Betty Ativie's Patty-Jo is a 15-inch cloth doll with teddy bear joints.  She has applied ears, the lobes of which are pierced and adorned with gold hoop earrings. Her black yarn wig is handmade.  She can stand without the assistance of a doll stand. Although she does not have facial features, I think she is as cute as can be!
About the Name She Chose:
The above, September 6, 1947, Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger comic strip image is courtesy of  cartoonist,Tim Jackson.  I originally used it in my article, Jackie Ormes' Patty-Jo, published in the March/April 2008 issue of Doll Castle News.  In the above comic strip, Patty-Jo is amazed that her likeness has been captured in the Patty-Jo dolls upon which she gazes.  She opines to big sister, Ginger, that it might be frightening if the dolls develop her social awareness and candor. 

The comic-strip character, Patty-Jo, created by the first syndicated African American female comic strip artist, Jackie Ormes, was the main character in the big sister-little sister comic strip.  Described as a 5-year-old, Patty-Jo was quite precocious as well as socially and politically aware.  The above Patty-Jo 'n' Ginger comic strip was published a few weeks after Ormes contractually partnered with the Terri Lee doll company in August 1947 to produce the 16-inch heavyweight, hard plastic Patty-Jo doll.  The doll, fashioned after the comic-strip character, had an array of fashions (just like Betty Ativie's Patty-Jo), and was on the market from 1947 through 1949. The comic strip character outlived the doll by several years, running in the Pittsburgh Courier from 1946 through the early-to-mid-1960s.

Betty Ativie's cloth Patty-Jo's bangs, two side ponytails, and the way she stands on her own (when positioned just right) reminds me of the spunky comic-strip character, Patty-Jo.  We both agree the name she chose for herself is appropriate.

Patty-Jo's Creation:

After thanking Betty for the doll and wardrobe, she sent the following photos, which document some of Patty-Jo's come-to-life process.

A vintage "Tillie" doll pattern was used to make Patty-Jo.

With body and limbs stuffed, she's coming together nicely in this photo.

Black yarn  was used to make Patty-Jo's hair.  That must have been a tedious process!

Like the comic-strip character, Patty-Jo has two side braids which will remain pinned under.  In this photo, one of her applied ears and gold hoop earring are shown.

She has very shapely legs.

Trying On the Wardrobe:

Patty-Jo anticipated trying on each of her dresses.  She later decided which one she would continue wearing for now.

Because she arrived wearing her undergarments, white tights, and white shoes, Patty-Jo first tried on dresses that would coordinate with the tights and shoes.

This ankle-length yellow and white seersucker dress has three hand-stitched floral appliqués on the bodice.  Yellow hair ribbons were sent with it.
It looks yellow, but this dress is actually chartreuse green.  Except for the ribbon that ties in the back, it has the same style as the previous dress.

Next, Patty-Jo tried on this shorter-length blue floral-print dress.  With this dress, Betty packaged contrasting hair ribbons and gold tone stud earrings in two sizes.

The red dress and accompanying red Mary Jane-style shoes were tried on next.  The bodice of this dress has a faint printed pattern that was not captured by my camera.  The style is similar to that of the blue floral dress.
Along with the African print dress, Betty sent black tights and black Mary Jane-style shoes.  The yellow ribbons work well with this dress.

Take a closer look at the African print fabric.  It contains images of African women, girls, pottery, and woven baskets.
Each dress is lovely but Patty-Jo knew she could only wear one at a time.  We both decided the easiest way to choose was to allow her to continue wearing the last dress she tried on, the African print.

After selecting a location in the doll room, Patty-Jo settled in nicely.  Her extra dresses, tights, shoes, earrings, and hair ribbons are stored in a doll trunk and are easily accessible for future redresses.

Can You Find Me? asks Patty-Jo.

Where am I?
How about now?

Can you see me now?

Thank you again, Betty!  I love my new little girl, the Patty-Jo you made, and her fashionable wardrobe!

Read more about Jackie Ormes' Patty-Jo, here.

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  1. Oh, wow! What a great gift, dolls that come with a trousseau are practically unheard of now but it was such a perfect concept.: D
    Thanks for sharing pictures of your gifts and information about the history behind this doll.

    1. Yes, she is a great gift! I just love her.


      I'm glad you enjoyed learning about the original Patty-Jo.


  2. Patty Jo is Beyond Cute, and her beautiful wardrobe is delightful. ZiZi must be a little jealous, hmmmm?

    1. You know it, Gini! ZiZi almost couldn't stand the attention Patty-Jo commanded. She'll get over it soon.



  3. Happy Birthday Debbie!! This is a beautiful and thoughtful gift! Very nice!!

  4. Replies
    1. Hi Arlette,

      I thought about some of the dolls you have made when I saw my Patty-Jo for the first time.


  5. Sorry for overloading with comments, but we have a long weekend here and now I get the opportunity to read your posts properly and respond thoughtfully! Firstly HAPPY (very belatedly) BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you had a great time and we're further spoiled. So being a big comic fan I was definitely intrigued by Patty Jo and think I now am in both in love with your Patty Jo and the original celluloid (?) Patty Jo!!! You'd think that having no face Patty Jo might be a little creepy, but I agree she's just delightful, and you can kind of give her any attitude you want. Just a lovely creation. 😍

    1. There is never a need to apologize for catching up on blog post reading and commenting. That is the way I am with the blogs I follow. It just works out better that way.

      Thank you for the happy birthday wishes. I did have a great time and was sufficiently spoiled by those who don't mind doing that for me. :-)

      I have not been able to determine the original Patty-Jo's construct. She feels like a lightweight composition, but she could be a heavier-than-usual hard plastic. I know the Terri Lee company did make some composition dolls early on and that medium was still being used in 1947 when Patty-Jo was manufactured, but that was at the beginning of the US doll industry's use of hard plastic as well. I have her documented in my book as hard plastic, but I really am unsure. Either way, my cloth version that reminds me of the comic strip character is really a sweet doll. Some people are creeped out by dolls without facial features, but I am not one. I "might," and this is a weak "might," create features for her using felt. That will be the safest way for me to do so myself and maintain control over the overall outcome. We shall see...



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