DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS A TON OF SAPPY, SENTIMENTAL MUSH, AND I HAD A BLAST WRITING IT!
You may be wondering about the title of this post. Allow me to explain…..Locka is the name of one of my favorite dolls from childhood. I have had her for so long that I don’t remember when I received her, but she is one of my most cherished toys from growing up. Everyone has favorite childhood toys, but for me (call it creative or crazy), playing with dolls as a child shaped the adult I am.
A little background…..Technically speaking, Locka is a 1964 Mattel pull-string talking Drowsy doll who I named Cuckadot. This unique name, my Dad later told me, came from my mispronunciation of Polkadot, which was the pattern of Drowsy’s “sleeper” body. A few years later, my little sister decided to shorten Cuckadot to Locka, and that’s the name that stuck. Since I received Locka second-hand, there was some wear and tear on her body and hair. My talented, amazing Mom initially made a pink flowered sleeper for Locka, but when that wore out, Mom entirely reupholstered Locka’s body in sturdy 1970s pink polyester.
Mom’s repair job on poor worn-out, shabby, bald, and mute Locka was truly remarkable! She could just have easily thrown out the doll and hoped I would forget about Locka, but a mother’s love knows no boundaries. She restored Locka so I could enjoy playing with her for years to come. My sister, the cute brunette, and I were so into doll play that one Christmas, my Italian Nana knitted outfits for our favorite dolls. I’m sure Nana had no pattern to work with but managed to tailor the outfits to our dolls’ exact measurements. Nana even knitted matching booties to complete the look! My gifted and artistic Nana also knew how to love unconditionally.
Of course, my sister and I had other dolls. I would feel like a negligent “Doll Mom” if I didn’t mention: Cory, my first doll, a soft-body Douglas Toys boy doll from Grandma D; Sandy, my “athletic” hard plastic dime store doll who spent most of her time floating face down in my kiddie pool; and Junie, a 1972 Life-Like Horsman Baby doll which was a Christmas present and precursor to the real doll, my sister who was born a month later.
My sojourn down memory lane and the history of Locka makes me reflect on the many attributes doll play gives children and, ultimately, the adults they become. Though Locka wasn’t new when I received her, I loved her as if she were. Locka, and every other doll I have, is well-loved, and it shows, but I never thought of throwing any of them away. My sister and I cultivated our creativity by playing with baby dolls and Barbies. We developed elaborate backstories for all of our dolls that would rival most soap operas and reality TV series.
For any other woman my age, the decision to toss beat-up, dirty and broken Locka into the trash would be obvious. Being Locka’s “Mommy” has taught me the values of acceptance, thrift, care, compassion, and love…all of which became magnified and dramatically increased when I became an actual Mom to my absolutely amazing human children.
This past week, I left my beloved Locka in the capable hands of a doll restorationist. I’m not expecting Locka to look brand new after this process, but I am excited at the possibility of having her body restored and hearing her sweet voice once again. Though the years of childhood play are fleeting, the creativity fostered and the values taught during this time are truly priceless.