Monday, October 23, 2017

Joe and Louise, Louise and Joe Together Forever

Louise and Joe
In late August, I received the above photo and an email with the subject line:  Home for Our Dolls.  The email read:

Hello!  I found your blog on google.  My sister and I have two 1950’s era dolls in disrepair.  They are the only dolls from our [white] childhood we kept.  We’d like to find them a good and happy home, instead of putting them in a storage box.  Might I send them to you?  Their names are Joe and Louise.   
After inquiring about the dolls' disrepair, my abbreviated reply was, "Yes, I would be happy to provide a home for Joe and Louise."

The ever-so-kind former owner, whom I will refer to as AF, sent a follow-up email to let me know Joe and Louise had been boxed up and a postage label created.

Several weeks passed before I remembered Joe and Louise had not yet arrived.  I wrote AF to inquire if the package had been sent, explaining that I have had issues with my post office in the past. AF's tracking indicated the package had been delivered to my PO box on August 31, 2017!

With the tracking information, I went to the PO where the package was tracked and within a few minutes retrieved from the back.  The shipping box had been placed in a locked box in the lobby because my PO box is too small to accommodate large boxes.  One of the inefficient postal clerks had failed to place the key to the larger box inside my PO box, so there was no way I would have known they were there had I not investigated.

Louise and Joe upon arrival to their new home

I hurried home and took the above photograph of Joe and Louise and sent it to AF to let her know they were now safe with me.

As illustrated in the next series of photos, I only needed to repair one of Joe's legs and restyle Louise's hair.

Joe's Leg Repair:

Black yarn threaded through an upholstery needle was used to reattach Joe's right leg to his body.

Closer look at the detachment

Using the upholstery needle, the yarn was guided through the leg holes of both legs by first entering the outside of Joe's good leg, taken through that leg, into the leg hole opening in the body and out the leg hole opening of the other leg.
Upright view of the state of repair illustrated and described immediately above this photo

The ball of yarn was cut away.  The end of the cut yarn was knotted on the outside of the leg.  Next (not illustrated here), the needle and yarn were threaded through the other leg and the end of the yarn cut and knotted on the outside of that leg.

With the repair complete, Joe was redressed in his overalls.

Louise's Hair Before and After

Profile and back view of Louise's hair before restyling
Louise's yarn hair was taken down from the top knot that exposed the bare back of her head.  The center yarn was smoothed down.  The loose side pieces were twisted and brought toward the back and joined in the center.  The ends of both sides were twisted together, brought up, and tucked inside the lower mid section

Profile view


A little bit of Joe and Louise's history was provided by AF after asking how she and her sister acquired the pair.  I also wanted to know if they chose the dolls themselves or if they had been gifts (I enjoy learning about my dolls' lives before me).

AF wrote:
During these times, I’ve been concerned about the dolls’ wellbeing and knowing where they should belong.  I hope my sister will agree with me.  They only are tattered by love and the years, but Joe’s leg has come off.  It just needs some simple stitches to reattach.  That’s it.   My sister xxxxx and I grew up in xxxx, xxxxx, not far from the Louisiana border.  I believe Joe and Louise were given to us, but it’s possible I picked them out. I read somewhere that they are probably tourist gifts sold by gift shops in the South.  We had a collection of dolls of all kinds —  pre-Barbie— and Joe and Louise were just part of the doll family.  As far as I know, Joe and Louise are the only dolls from our youngest years who now survive, thanks to my sister who held on to them.  She then gave them back to me.  Now my daughter tells me that it’s not right to display them in a white household, and I admit, I think she’s right.  It doesn’t feel right boxing them away, either.  A few years ago my son took Joe and gave Louise to a [girl] friend.  We got the girl to return Louise, because I couldn’t bear to think of them parted.  They’ve survived East Texas, North Carolina, and now San Diego life.  And they are close to 60 years old.
 To answer your question, even if they weren’t chosen, they were loved deeply.  And here we are.   
Together Forever

Joe and Louise are 14-inch machine-sewn black cloth dolls with embroidered facial features.  Representing an elderly couple, several individually knotted pieces of gray yarn were used for Joe's  mustache, beard, and his stage 7 male-pattern baldness (with hair only on the lower sides and base of his neck).  Gray yarn was also used for his eyebrows.  Black yarn was used for Louise's hair.  The red and white checkered cotton fabric used for Joe's shirt is the same fabric as Louise's dress.  Louise wears white cotton panties with eyelet-trimmed leg holes (I remember wearing those during the 1950s and early '60s).   Her red fabric shoes are sewn-on.  Joe's tan and white striped suspender pants have patches on the upper-front thighs.  He has one pocket in back that holds a permanently inserted red and white polka dot handkerchief.

Aren't they a charming couple?
And here they are, separated once, and now back together with me to be loved some more.

Joe and Louise settled in nicely among other (mostly) cloth dolls.  Louise is very comfortable with one leg supported on Baby Mo's head (but he doesn't mind).

Thank you again AF!

Thank you for reading. Was this post helpful?
Follow my sister blog Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black
View the Doll Events page for updates. Check out my eBay listings here.


  1. What a wonderful couple :-). It's great that they have a new home with you now! I'm also glad that they still were at the post office!

    1. They are a delightful couple. I too am glad they were still at the PO.


  2. Congratulations ! Glad AF found you and you tracked the package down. I am a bit puzzled and saddened by the daughter saying Mom should give them away though, since they were loved.

    1. Thank you Fran! I was a bit saddened by the daughter's opinion that they didn't belong there, too. Rather than keep them boxed up, I respect AF's decision to find a new home for them. I have another photo that I will add to this post soon, which illustrates where they are proudly displayed.


  3. Wow! That was very kind of "AF" to send you her beloved dolls but I guess she knew you would fix them up and display them. They are wonderful and to be almost 60 years old.. oh my!!!!!

    1. Niceness to the extreme was AF's gesture. I feel truly honored.


  4. They are gorgeous! What a fab pair, and so, so glad they found they’re way to you. As Fran noted, a puzzling statement that Joe & Louise were an inappropriate pair to be owned by a white family, especially with their history, but perhaps in these times it’s a difficult topic, and perhaps a daughter is looking with 2017 eyes on the two dolls. I just think it’s so generous of AF to work hard to find her beloved dolls a new home. Really touching actually. No, I did not maybe tear up thinking about her choice. I’m so glad you have them Debbie and you have restored both their dignity and given them pride of place in your collection. ❤️

    1. It was very generous of AF to part with this pair and to seek out a "suitable" new owner for them. I am happy I was the chosen one. It's a touching story.

      When I shared photos of Joe and Louise on Facebook, two other collectors shared (and one with picture-proof) that they own Joe. They now both want a Louise for their Joes. :-)



Your comments are appreciated. To eliminate spam, all comments are being moderated and will be published upon approval. Thank you!