Days Gone By - stories from the past

Do you remember paper dolls? I wonder if children still play with them?

I remember cutting out dresses for my paper dolls too.  This story and video will bring back memories.

A Paper Doll To Call My Own 


Joyce Ray Wheeler

It happened again! It always happens just as I am going to bed! Some long ago tune comes into my mind and I spend the first half of the night trying to remember the words.  All the words aren’t necessary for this article, but perhaps you’d like to remember with me this song popularized by the Mill’s Brothers in 1942.

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own,

A doll that other fellows cannot steal,

And then those flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes

Will have to flirt with dollies that are real.

When I come home at night she will be waiting.

She’ll be the truest doll in all this world;

I’d rather have a paper doll to call my own

Than have a fickle minded real live girl!

I guess I’ve had a million dolls or more.

I guess I’ve played the doll game oe’r and oe’r.

I just quarreled with Sue; that’s why I am so blue;

She’s gone away and left me just like all dolls do.

I tell you boys, its tough to be alone.

And it’s touch to love a doll that’s not your own,

I’m through with all of them. I’ll never bawl again.

Say, guy! Watcha gonna do?

(repeat the first two verses)

Walt Disney Storyteller Book & Tape – The Wizard of Oz & Robin Hood

A box full of memories

In my early childhood, I knew nothing about pretty paper dolls that could stand; they had multiple changes of dresses, hats, purses that could be fastened to the standing doll by bending little paper tabs underneath the body.NursePaperDoll_sm

A box full of memories

I still have a box in which my mother saved early childhood memories for me. Recently I unfolded paper dolls she made for me. She would take a strip of brown wrapping paper about 15’’ by 5’’, fold it over and over in what she called “accordion pleats.” Then holding the folded paper tightly, she used her sharpest scissors as the cut through all layers. I remember the row of little girls or boys that suddenly appeared with joined “hands” when the paper was unfolded; it seemed like magic to my eyes.Disney_paper_dolls012

In this same box of memories I found eight sheets of lined notepaper, yellowed and ragged around the edges from age. In my handwriting I identified their having been made by a Joyce Ray, age 8, in the forth grade. My paper dolls were cut outs from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. Evidently, my assignment at school had been to provide pictures of what my home would be like. I don’t think there was a brick house in our little town, but somewhere I found a picture of a brick house and pasted in on page one, using flour paste and labeling it “my home.” Then followed seven more pages of Sears cut outs: My Porch, My Living Room, My Dining Room, My Kitchen, My bedroom, My Bathroom (I don’t think I’d ever even seen a real bathroom. Ours was outside and down the hill!)

The way I hoped I would look

Page eight was the crowning page. It was labeled “My Family.” Once again Sears catalog came through. I found a picture that looked the way I hoped I would look as a grown-up lady. There was a tall, handsome man for a husband and in between were two little boys! And that is how it turned out in real life (except I never looked as pretty as I had hoped!). Those memories have been fun, but life with my real, live family has been blessed indeed.

Joyce Ray Wheeler was born in Kentucky, but after marriage and two sons she and her husband, Dr. Ruric Wheeler she moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1953. She was a former school teacher for a short while.  She was active in the Faculty Wives Club at Samford University and a member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School classes for women for many years. She enjoyed travel, her grandchildren and writing her memories. Joyce passed away November 2. 2012.


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About Joyce Ray Wheeler

Joyce Ray Wheeler was born in Kentucky, but after marriage and two sons she and her husband, Dr. Ruric Wheeler she moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1953. She was a former school teacher for a short while. She was active in the Faculty Wives Club at Samford University and a member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School classes for women for many years. She enjoyed travel, her grandchildren and writing her memories. Joyce passed away November 2. 2012.Her obituary and memorial can be seen at:

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  1. Theresa Drummond Cherry

    Paper Dolls was one of my faves as a kid……….I had so many of them

  2. Janet Chillson Thompson

    Yes,I loved paper dolls. I played with them as a child.remember you had to cut the clothes off the page?

  3. Beth Selfe

    Betsy McCall was my favorite!

  4. Deb Jordan

    I enjoyed playing with paper dolls too. I have one grand daughter who played with paper dolls until she was about 12 years old.

  5. Leisa Wright Boggs

    Yes, we enjoyed them. I bought my granddaughter today’s version, which are magnetic. She enjoys them and they don’t tear like ours use to.

  6. Amy Humphryes

    I still have my paper dolls

  7. Francine Parker

    I remember my grandmother having a subscription to McCall’s and she would save the paper dolls for me to cut out and play with when I visited her. Good memories!

  8. Tammy Lee Griggs

    I loved paper dolls!! I used to make my own!

  9. Toni Evans Johnson

    I always loved that song. Daddy would sing it to me.

  10. Syble Cranford

    If I tell you I played with these when I was a child you will know how old I am. lol I had a girlfriend who loved to ask me over to play paperdolls and I would go sometimes, but never really enjoyed playing with them. I was a tomboy and had much rather be playing outdoors with the boys. hahaha

  11. Kay Moreland Hargett

    My sister and I LOVED paper dolls! Our mother brought us one of the big, old Simplicity pattern books once, and we cut out the pattern dresses, etc. to fit our paper dolls! What a wardrobe we had for them! We had hours of fun!

  12. Frances Cobbins

    I loved playing with paper dolls!

  13. Doris Weathers

    Loved paper dolls.. Hood memories

  14. Janet Tant

    I wish I could play with them with my grand daughter! She would love it!

  15. Anna Mae Horn

    I have bought both my girls-one is 20 and one is 10- magnetic dolls for the fridge. I think it’s the new version of paper dolls. Lol

  16. Janice Martin

    You can still buy paper dolls from Dover Books. They have celebrity ones and little girl ones. I used to buy the coloring ones to give away because I remember how much I played with mine when I was little. I can’t say if my donations were played with. You can also get smaller versions from Dollar General for $1.00.

  17. Mary Jane Sims

    I loved paper dolls. Betsy McCall. I also made my own clothes for the dolls.

  18. Tammy Newton
  19. Martha Odom Byrne

    I spent many hours playing with my paper dolls.

  20. Dorothy Lois Land
  21. Deborah Andrews Johnson

    use to cut out McCall’s Magazine paper dolls.

  22. Patricia Camp Mullis

    I loved playing with paper dolls. I also tried to design dresses and used the magazines.

  23. Bartholomew Roberts Smith

    I printed some from online sources for our 2 year old. She loved them.

  24. Ann B Hamilton

    We cut our dolls and their clothes out of the Sears catalog.

  25. Audra Leverton

    You can find small books at Cracker Barrel.

  26. Lynn Eckberg

    What a nice memory. Thank you. I loved paper dolls and making outfits for them. Happy times.

  27. Anita McIntosh

    I still have a box of my old paper dolls that my Mother kept for me from years ago.

  28. Barbara Whistenant

    I loved paper dolls and my favorite thing to do was drawing new beautiful clothes for them.

  29. Jayne Youngblood Oniffrey

    One of my favorite toys. I would cut furniture out of the Sears catalog for their pretend houses.

  30. Karen Acker

    Betsy McCall… played with her when I was little.

  31. Frances Cobbins

    I loved playing with paper dolls!

  32. LaRue Myatt

    For a dime you could get a whole book with paper doll and clothes!! Fun.

  33. Judy Ergle
  34. Hedy Hayward

    I so loved Betsy McCall from McCall’s magazine.Just couldn’t wait for Aunt Grace to read her new issue so I could cut them out.

  35. Janie Ward

    I loved my paper dills

  36. Rebecca Ingersoll Grizzle

    Played many hours with paper dolls .

  37. Willette Frazier

    I DO – and one day (when I was about 12) I came home from school and my baby brother had torn all the heads off my paper dolls. In later years he apologized. I love him.

  38. Joy Horne

    My sister and I played paper dolls.

  39. Runell Hodges

    I have some that are Victorian, beautiful

  40. Barbara Penchosky

    Kay and I were playing paper dolls when my accident happened. A very distressing memory

  41. Margaret Harris Hall

    I remember them too !! Electronic games took the place of imagination!! Sad!!

  42. Tiney Odom

    I got my great grand baby some she loves to play with them

  43. Charline Pope

    LOVED THEM! Now they make magnetic clothes for the doll. That’s what my granddaughter’s have.

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