Childhood Toys

Sharing Stories

ElizaJane and SallieAnn baby dolls

Thinking about childhood toys, I vividly remember the day I received ElizaJane. I woke from my nap and my mom had her and her companion doll sitting on the chair waiting for a snack. It was love at first sight; I carried ElizaJane everywhere with me. I’m sure that we drew many looks from other shoppers, the nursery lady at church, and even my own cousins, but she was my favorite. Now I will tell you that my lovely ElizaJane had the most beautiful chocolate brown skin, and I am a white as white can be.

While looking for a picture of my doll I discovered that ElizaJane and SallieAnn were part of a study by Mamie and Kenneth Clark, in 1946. The Clarks introduced the dolls to a group of black children to find out the effect of living in a segregated society—as the US was.

I wonder if my mother or maybe my aunt had enrolled me in the study and was sent the dolls in Texas. I now have so many questions. I am now actively perusing research into the “Doll Study” as it was called when it was used by the Supreme Court during their Brown v Board of Education deliberations.

Sadly, the rubber that ElizaJane was made from broke down; we had to throw her away.

Virginia Serna is a retired special education aide, who moved to Washington State from Texas in 2016. The picture is of my dad, sister Frances, and me on Easter. It is probably 1954 or 55.

SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).

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