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Doll collector has enjoyed hobby

By Kay S. Pedrotti Many ‘babies,’ known to most people as dolls, have lived at Doris Meek’s house during the last 50 years or so. A veteran doll-doctor, Meek has actually made dolls, constructing bodies, arms and legs to go with manufactured heads, hands, feet, eyes and hair. She has even repaired extensively cracked and broken dolls’ heads made from different materials. Soft dolls have their own handsewn hands and feet and faces may be painted, she said. Meek learned synthetic doll hair can be re-styled or curled by dampening strands and winding them around straws until dry. Her collection includes at least one Greiner and several E.F.& B. dolls made in Europe as long ago as the turn of the 20th century. Dolls from these companies are quite rare and valuable, she said. Meek, 83, will display dolls from her collection, notable for their restoration and the clothing she hand-made for them, at Lamar Arts Depot Gallery starting Jan. 9. She first fell in love with a doll when she was about 6 years old and had to make a trip alone from Philadelphia, Penn., to Columbus, Ohio, by train and horse-drawn buggy. ’I was crying and very scared,’ she said. ‘I didn’t want to go. My aunt brought one of her dolls down to me and said, ‘˜Here, she will keep you company.’ I carried that doll every minute of that trip of many, many hours.’ She still has that same doll. Doris and her late husband French E. Meek, known for his beautiful inlaid woodwork, made Barnesville their home for many years and had a condominium in Panama City, Fla. In that city Doris became a member of Elegant Endeavors, a doll club where members could make or restore dolls for shows. She said her first encounter with other women who loved and cared for dolls was in Columbus, Ohio, when the ASCS senior program wanted help finding all their dolls a good home. ’Of course we found them good homes because we knew how to tell when someone really cares about dolls,’ Meek said. Here in Barnesville, she once made an ’emergency’ window display of dolls for Dr. Johnny Deen at Christmastime. Thereafter, she did it every year, she said.Meek’s collection includes a restored Sears Daisy doll in a suitcase Doris made for her, a Carron Cone with springs in her feet, a tin doll who spent a lot of time in a Word War II WAC’s footlocker, ‘penny wooden’ dolls, a doll with a handmade corset, a Jean Nordquist drummer boy doll and what Meek calls ‘google-eyed dolls.’ In her collection are dolls whose heads may be composite, vinyl, porcelain or unglazed bisque; their bodies are usually vinyl, leather, rubber or cloth. Each member of Meek’s family has received a doll personally made or restored for them by Doris. This may be her last year for working on dolls, she said, because of failing eyesight. ’Meanwhile, I know others who repair dolls and would like to be able to collect kid-leather gloves people don’t want anymore,’ she said. ‘You’d be surprised what a good repair material that can be.’

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