The Story of Clare

Clare: a doll belonging to Julie Jones

I never liked dolls much as a child (I much preferred marching my plastic farm animals up and down), but one little doll was close to my heart. I called her Clare.

Clare before treatment
Clare with her new eyes

As a child, I always took part in the annual Sunday School anniversary. It was an important event in our calendar. Every child had to perform, either singing a song or reciting a poem, and we always had a new outfit for the occasion. When I was six, my mum made me a new dress, as usual: but this time she made a matching dress for my doll Clare. The fabric was beautiful, a sheer white chiffon with little blue velvet flowers scattered all over it. I never dressed Clare in anything else after that. The photos show me (with my twin brother) wearing my anniversay dress in 1966 and Clare wearing her matching dress in 2020!

I always feel guilty that I only loved the one little doll. My mum was given a big doll called Connie when she was very small. She had carefully looked after her for decades, and was very attached to her. But Connie was too fragile and too valuable for me to play with, so my mum sold her to a toy museum, using the profits to buy me a big doll of my own. I never took to the new doll, and being too young to appreciate the sacrifice my mum had made, I made no effort to play with her: Clare was the only doll for me!

In the 1970s, Clare was sent to a toy hospital to have her broken eyes replaced. When she came back, one eye was very lopsided, and the skin tone didn’t match at all. Clare went into a cupboard and rarely came out again, except to feature as a history exhibit in my infant classes. She recently had a stay at Leith Toy Hospital, and came back with beautiful new eyes, and a ribbon to mask the places where I cut her hair off as a child. She now sits by my desk at home, still much loved.

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