Taking the newspaper off the table in the foyer, Edward walked into the study and sat down heavily into his chair. Crossing his legs, he scanned the front page and then leaned back into his chair, and opened the paper to page 2. “New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt says, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far,” Edward read. Smiling, he said aloud, “Bully!” and laughed.
Irene watched her husband from the foyer. Enjoying his laughter, she thought this would be a good time to tell him about the porcelain doll and Sarah’s birthday.
“Edward?” she said.
“Hummph…” he muttered under his breathe as he continued to read the paper. “Edward, I need to talk to you about Sarah’s birthday next week.”
“Sarah’s birthday? Oh, yes, what about it?”
“Well, I was thinking she is going to be 9. I was hoping to do something special for her. Edward dropped the paper to his lap and looked intently at his wife. “What are you
“oh, I don’t know. Perhaps a family party or would you like to take her somewhere
special? What do you think? This is really an important time for Sarah. She will only be 9 once and …”
“Irene, I know you better than that. What do you have in mind?”
Irene smiled as though she was caught, “Well,” she began. “how about on Saturday, we start the dat with an excursion to one of her favorite places, like the Buffalo Zoo. You know how she loves animals. Then in the afternoon, we can have the family over for dinner and cake.”
Note: Originally conceived as a deer park in the northeast corner of Frederick Law Olmstead’s Delaware Park. The Buffalo Zoo was established in 1875, spurred on by local donation of animals. The Zoo grew and rapidly developed between 1875-1930 and attracted great community interest and involvement. This growth led to the Zoological Society of Buffalo being founded in 1931. The Society worked with the City of Buffalo to effect many improvements to the Zoo over the next four decades. Included in this period was a major renovation (1938-1942) by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which featured buildings using classic, period architecture. (https://tclf.org/buffalo-zoo-entrance-court)
“Sounds like a wonderful idea! I suppose you already called your family.”
“Only Florence and she said she’d come.”
“Anna said she’d bake.”
“And your brothers.”
Irene laughed. “I didn’t get that far yet.”
Edward smiled. Oh, how he loved her! “I suppose you already chose the gift – the perfect
“As a matter of fact, I did,” she said proudly. “Do you want to see it?” she whispered. “Yes,” he whispered back with a grin.
She giggled like a schoolgirl as she grabbed his hand and pulled him out of his chair and towards the door. “Come on. Before Sarah hears us!”
Edward was always up for a good surprise and quickly followed her up the stairs to their bedrooms.
Irene stood at the door with her slim fingers wrapped around the glass door knob. Looking over her shoulder, she whispered, “Come on!”
A small smile crept across the lips. “What do you have hidden in there, Irene?” Edward leaned over Irene’s slight shoulder to watch her delicate fingers turn the knob. As the latch released, Irene pushed the door open. She slipped in and turned to face her husband.
“Cross the door. I don’t want Sarah to hear us.” Irene moved quickly to the closet door and reached for the knob as Edward closed the bedroom door. As Edward turned around, Irene’s head was already in the closet and she was rummaging around. Boxes moved, paper crinkled, clothes rustled. Edward watched Irene. Her excitement was infectious. He stooped down next to her, feeling the giddiness in the pit of his stomach.
“Edward, are you ready?” Irene spun around on her heels holding the bag close to her chest. Her smile was deep as excitement lit up her rich brown eyes. “I could not believe I found this I was walking home when I looked into Miss Jamison’s shop window and I thought I would stop. Way in the back on a shelf sat the perfect gift for Sarah.”
She held the bag out to Edward. He reached for it and took it from her. He could feel the weight. He continued to look at her face as he separated the handles and opened the bag. The tissue paper was crushed on top hiding the contents. Irene peeked in as Edward removed the first of the tissue paper. The crushed tissue paper rested in a crumpled heap on the bedspread as he placed the bag on the bed. The bag leaned to one side. Irene reached for it, afraid it would tip over, but it suddenly righted itself. She quickly jerked her hand away. Edward looked up startled by her sudden movement. “Is it okay if I take it out?” he asked.
She hesitated. “Of course, silly.” A nervous giggle escaped from her lips.
Edward reached inside the bag and carefully lifted the doll. Her dress appeared to unfold and blossom into billows of ribbon and lace. Edward looked at the doll amazed at its find workmanship. “Irene, she’s beautiful!”
“I think so, too.”
“I’m sure Sarah will love this.”
“Look at her fingertips and her toes. Even her fingernails are polished. And her eyelashes.
Look. Each lash is separate.”
“Exquisite,” he remarked under her breathe.
“I hope you don’t mind. It was a little more than I intended to spend.”
“Irene, do you know how old this doll is ?”
“I’m not sure. Miss Jamsion didn’t know. She had just gotten her in the shop.”
“I bet there is some history attached to his doll. Next time you see Miss Jamison, ask her
if she could tell you where she acquired it. I would be interested in knowing where she was made. The workmanship is superb.”
“Not only the doll, look at the dress. Isn’t that Chantilly Lace? The detail is unbelievable! It looks like my mother’s lace shawl, doesn’t it? Wait! I think I have it in the bureau.
Irene quickly moved toward the bureau and pulled open the bottom drawer. There,
carefully wrapped in paper, was her mother’s Chantilly lace shawl. She removed it from the drawer and laid it gently on the bed. As she unwrapped the shawl. Irene smoothed the paper preparing it for the rewrapping after she was to show Edward that she was right.
Note: Chantilly Lace is the best known of the black laces. It takes its name from the French town of Chantilly, where silk lace had been made-primarily for the Spanish market-from early in the 17th century. This early Chantilly lace was not black. It was makes in strips of a cream-colored silk with motifs enclosed by a heavier floss silk, and because of its color, was called Blonde. When black thread was used, it was called Black Blonde. The motifs were made in cloth stitch with a gimp, either a thicker thread or several strands of the regular thread plied together as a strand and used as the worker. Blonde is a fragile lace, since the thin passive threads must support the heavier worker thread. A certain amount of black lace was also made in Ipswich, Massachusetts, presumably about 1767. There was also a thriving industry throughout the area. Much of the lace was sold or traded directly by the maker for goods. (https:// www.thelacemuseum.org/lace-info.html)
Edward was critically examining the doll’s dress. The lace was a creamy color with fine stitches woven to hold the heavier stands of thread. The delicate pattern graced the edges of the dress, the sleeves, and the collar making the dress look almost dream-like. It was obvious to Edward that this doll was expensive to say the least, but elegant.
Irene spread the lace shawl across the bed. “This shawl was passed down to my mother from her mother. It’s got to be all of 100 years or better. My grandmother got this as a gift on her wedding from my grandfather.”
Edward looked up and placed the doll on the bed next to the shawl edging. “My goodness, Irene, the lace is identical!”
“Are you sure?” Irene looked more closely at the pattern. “You don’t think there is any connection, do you?”
“I’m not sure. I think it depends on when and where this lace was bought. Irene, you said you got this at Miss Jamison’s. Maybe you can find out about this lace. It’s amazing that it matches your mother’s shawl.”
Irene was surprised at the match. She wondered if that was why she was so drawn to the doll – the familiarity of the lace. But she didn’t think so.
Picking up the doll, Irene turned her over to see the back of the dress. The hand drawn stitches were tiny and perfect as the cream-colored thread slipped in and out of the fabric. The neckline was smooth and rested perfectly on the doll’s porcelain skin and under garments. Irene used her fingernail to lift the edge of the pearl button and slip it through the handmade button hole. Each stitch around the hole was equal and even, without a thread out of place. The detail work was magnificent. It was evident that a lot of attention was put into the making of these fine clothes. Irene sewed and sewed very well, but she excelled in fine needlepoint and decorative stitching She appreciated the work that had gone into this doll. She lifted a second small pearl button and slipped it through the next handmade button hole. The back of the lace cover fell open to reveal a camisole made from fine silk. The detailed stitching on the back of the camisole would rival the finest lingerie from “Paris,” whispered Irene.
“Did you say something, Irene?” Edward asked.
“Oh, Paris. I said Paris. I wonder if perhaps this doll was made in Paris or at lease the fabric and lace came from Paris.”
Edward just stared at the doll.
“You really like this doll, don’t you?” questioned Irene.
Edward paused and stammered, “Well, it is a gift for Sarah, and I’m just interested. I
mean it may have some historic value. I don’t know.”
Irene smiled. She understood completely.
“Mom, where are you?” Sarah’s voice could be heard penetrating the door to the hallway. “Just a minute, Sarah. We’ll be right there.”
“I said just a minute.”
The doll finally released Edward. He looked up at Irene and said, “I’ll see what Sarah
wants. You can put the doll away.”
Irene smiled. “Okay,” she said as Edward turned and walked toward the door. “Sarah? What do you want? Your mother will be right with you.”
Irene half listened to her husband’s muffled voice as he talked to their daughter. She
returned her attention to the doll. She turned the doll over and began to button the pearl beads on the back of the lace dress. She carefully laid her down on the tissue paper and gently pushed her arms down to her sides. Irene touched the auburn locks and smoothed a strand or two of her hair. She straightened the doll’s legs and adjusted the dress so the lace and fabric were laying flat without any wrinkles. She took another sheet of the tissue paper and carefully covered the lace dress. Holding the doll in place, Irene looked away and reached for another sheet of the tissue paper Under her hand, she felt movement. She pulled her hand away and inhaled sharply. The released tissue slowly fell open to reveal the doll’s face looking up at her through her opened eyes.
Irene gasped and fell back into the bureau upsetting the race filled with brightly colored Gerber daisies. The water spilled down the side of the bureau as the vase crashed onto the hardwood floor. Edward rushed in with Sarah close behind.
“Irene, are you okay? What happened?”
“I-I-I…” Irene could not form the words that were swirling through her head. Her eyes were riveted to the bed. Edward grabbed Irene by her slim, shaking shoulders.
“Irene!” He was almost shouting at her. Her eyes finally met him and she began to cry. “It’s okay. It’s only water. Sarah, bring a rag from downstairs to mop up this water.” Edward cradled Irene in his arms. “What happened?” he whispered.
Irene stopped shaking long enough to answer. “The doll opened her eyes while she was lying on the bed, and I got startled.”
The both looked over at the bed and the “sleeping” doll.
“Well, the eyes are closed now. Perhaps they only looked like they were open,” Edward rationalized just as Sarah walked in and saw the doll. She ran over to the bed and picked her up.
‘Oh, Daddy! She’s beautiful!”
Edward looked at Irene and shrugged. “Should we give it to her now?” “I suppose,” Irene answered.
“Sarah, your mother bought this for your birthday next week, but since you already saw it, you may as well enjoy your gift a bit early.”
“Oh, Mommy, she is beautiful! Thank you!” Sarah ran to her mother and squeezed her around the mother’s tiny waist as tightly as she could while holding the doll close to her chest.
“I guess we don’t have to worry about Sarah not liking the doll,” Edward commented.
“I guess not,” Irene agreed. She picked up the rag that was dropped on the floor in all the excitement and began to mop up the water before it left water marks on the hardwood.
“I have the perfect place for her,” Sarah said as she ran out of the bedroom, doll in tow.
Edward helped Irene up and they walked across the hall to Sarah’s room. There, sitting on the bed, was the doll, bent at the waist with her legs out straight. Her arms rested at her sides and her head was slightly cocked to one side A slight smile was noted by Irene across the doll’s lips. Sarah was busy straightening the dress and smoothing out the lace.
“Mom, look at her hair! It’s the same color as mine!”
Irene had noticed the similarity. “Yes, honey, it does look almost like yours.”
“Does she have a name, Mom?”
“Not that I know of.”
“So does this mean I get to name her?”
“I suppose so,” Edward said.
“Then her name is Miss Ginger. Miss Ginger. I like that name. Miss Ginger, do you like
sitting on my bed? It’s a very comfortable bed, isn’t it? Good, then this is where you will be when I’m not sleeping.”
As Sarah continued to talk, Miss Ginger smiled.