My birthday celebration started out fine and dandy – friends at the farm, Ma’s homemade chocolate ice-cream, and plenty of laughter. That is, until Pa had to rush me into town to see Doc Miller after jumping down from the barn loft and twisting my ankle.
Doc said I had a sprain. He wrapped my foot securely with a bandage, working his way up to just above my ankle. “Now, take it easy and don’t put any weight on that foot for three weeks,” he instructed. Then he retrieved a small wooden crutch from the back of his coat closet and handed it to me.
That night, everyone treated me like a queen! My six older brothers did my chores, Ma served me supper in bed, and Pa read from the family Bible until I drifted off to sleep. Our little house was warm and secure, all tucked in until morning.
When the sun rose, I hobbled to the kitchen table on my crutch, plopping myself down in the nearest chair. “What are we going to do today?” I asked Ma, who was stirring a kettle of oats in the Dutch oven. My mouth was watering for a taste of the silky porridge.
“Well, I was thinking we’d do something indoors since you can’t run and play. How would you like to see some special things from my hope chest?”
“That sounds like fun!” I replied.
After the breakfast dishes were cleared away, Pa and the boys headed to the fields to bale hay. Ma brought a stack of neatly folded linens from her trunk and placed them before me. “First, let’s sort them,” she suggested.
In the first pile, we placed two lace doilies that Ma’s ma had given her for her wedding. The next was a sky-blue table runner with yellow embroidered roses down the center. This, Ma said, had belonged to her sister before she passed away from cholera. There was one large patchwork quilt and two smaller ones that Ma had made before she met Pa.
We continued to sort the items. There was an apron, four cross-stitched pillowcases, a few knitted dish towels, and a dainty handkerchief doll with violets on her dress and a matching satin ribbon around her neck. “Oh, Ma! Where did you get this?” I exclaimed.
“That, my dear, was given to me by your pa when you were born – in celebration of finally getting a baby girl! It used to be a handkerchie—“
“It’s lovely,” I interrupted. “Did Pa make it?”
“He sure did! All by himself!
I gazed at the treasure, speechless.
“And someday,” Ma continued, “When you marry and have a daughter, I will pass it on to you.”
For the weeks following, while my ankle healed, Ma let me play with the little hankie doll. She said I could get it out any time I wanted, and then we would tuck it away again for another baby girl, in another time and place!
©2020 by Angela Free
PHOTO: The soft violet flowers on this little handkerchief doll's dress make her just perfect for springtime, which is right around the corner! Wouldn't you love to know the history of this beautiful handkerchief -- who carried it and what the occasion was? May this little doll and her story bring a smile to someone's face as she travels to her new home in South Carolina!
To view more vintage handkerchief dolls, please visit my Etsy shop (link above). Thank you!
My daughter "LEAHZ" and I write these short heirloom doll stories. The idea came from my daughter when, one day, she told me that I should use my creative writing skills to write a unique, one-page historical fiction story for each handkerchief doll. And, so, we joined up together and started writing! We hope you enjoy these sweet little tales! Angela Free