Friday, February 5, 2016

Doll Days

As a child, parks such as Willow Park in Butztown (Bethlehem Township) and Indian Trail Park in Northampton County were regular places we visited for school and family events.  I didn't go to Dorney Park (the only park that remains in the region) until I was a teenager.  
The one park that I always wondered about was Central Park in Allentown.  It was closed a few years before I was born but I would see signs in the Rittersville (eastern) portion of Allentown alluding to the park that once was there.  
Central Park was established after the Civil War ended and eventually was named "The Greater Central Park."  It was a popular trolley destination in the region and I love looking at old images of the park:

One of the neatest pieces of the park's history is the idea of the "Doll Days" held at the park when children mothers were encouraged to "bring the little ones" to the event.  

According to a 1917 issue of  The Allentown Leader (one of the local newspapers) this was an annual event held in mid-July:
…the annual Doll Day festivities will be held on the portico of the dancing pavilion at Central Park. All the boys and girls are invited to bring their dolls and not only display them, but join in the competition for the trophies that are to be awarded. There will be beautiful prizes for the prettiest doll in the show, for the prettiest boy doll, for the prettiest girl doll, for the fattest, leanest and ho'meliest dolls, for the prettiest twins, for the largest doll, for the smallest doll and so on down the line. 
This may have been the kind of event that my paternal grandparents attended, both were from Allentown:
McLaughlin archive, copyright 2015.  1906 photograph.  Seated is my grandfather Jack or my grandmother Elsie.  It's a debated topic in our family who it is.  My aunt maintains it is my grandfather but a close-up of the child shows daisies dotting the bonnet of the child.  Also, she looks exactly like my grandmother...

This local little doll quilt was probably pieced during this era. A tied comfort, it is comprised of sweet little nine patches and bordered and backed in fabric featuring a trellis patterns, flowers, and birds:

Have a happy and sewful day!


  1. I just love old photographs, and wish things had stayed the same - except for fast cars and novocaine.

  2. I'd vote for your grandmother sitting on the stoop. Do you know where this house is? Is it still standing?