A real life for a Barbie doll?

BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien just told us an interesting story. She got a new pair of shoes delivered to her home in Redondo Beach, California, and she noticed that the packing materials all were the right size to create things for a Barbie doll; then a pizza box came, and she realized that the little three-legged plastic piece that keeps the cheese from sticking to the lid of the box could be Barbie’s “end table.” And it all revived memories of the days in her childhood when she really did improvise, to make a real life for Barbie.

Barbie was single. She had a great figure, pretty clothes, those little tiny shoes, and even a vinyl Barbie doll case to sleep in, which was kind of like a lunch box. Yes, she had it all. But Barbie was ready to start a family. And I didn’t have a Ken doll. Barbie needed a mate.

Erin O'Brien

Erin O’Brien

I scanned my bedroom for possibilities. My stuffed animals would look like dinosaurs next to her.

Gumby? Well, he was green. Then, on top of my dresser, I spotted him: there, in his flowing red robe and with his chipped plaster hand was The Infant of Prague. He was a little short, but had to lose the red cape …. but minus the cape he might look less like a superhero, and pass for husband material.



In order to expand their family I needed to arrange an adoption. Their offspring would have to be shorter than the father, who wasalready shorter than his wife, so this took some careful thought on my part. I remembered a wide-eyed smiling naked fellow who fit the bill: the little troll doll with his dollop of fuchsia hair. As long as his hair was not standing straight up, he would be shorter than his dad.

It was so satisfying to bring these three separate beings together to form a family unit. Sure, they were a motley crew, but Barbie’s single days were behind her. Now she had someone to cook and clean for — two someones, in fact.

From his lonely perch on top of the dresser, where The Infant of Prague once merely regarded the world below, he was now an active participant. And the little troll, rescued from a toy bin, had a special role. From now on, The Infant of Prague and the naked troll had a place to call home, with Barbie, inside the vinyl Barbie case.


Once Barbie’s family was packed, I was off with my vinyl case to my friend Elaine’s house for Barbie’s wedding, but first I had to stop and pick some blossoms from the lantana bush in the front yard for Barbie and her bridesmaids.

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  1. Whether it’s Barbie, or toy soldiers we did have to use our imaginations to bring things to life when we played as children. I hope that with all the video games, Legos and HD sophisticated toys children have these days, the real magic of creating something from nothing is not lost. Thanks for the post, it brought back my own memories of using simple house hold items such as empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls to help conquer the world.

  2. Erin, I remember getting out the Hot Wheels Tracks to make roads for my Barbie to travel through. We would make houses and stores out of small boxes and place them throughout the tracks. Even thought Barbie could not really fit inside them, we used our imagination bouncing her off her tippie toes pretending she could on her visit to each location. Really truly the good old days. Thanks for taking me back. Your tea buddy, Daisy

  3. Your Barbie may have rejected Gumby, but he was the perfect match for MY Barbie! Better than my brother’s G.I. Joe, with his hyper-masculine, scarred face and weirdly knobby wrist joints.

  4. I was more into making Barbie’s house. I scoured our house for anything that would make Barbie’s house cool. I used popsicle sticks to make a table, chairs and a sofa; a Minute Rice box for a bed (covered with material scraps as sheets); a big pot for a swimming pool; and I made my mom buy (just once, because it was more expensive) the laundry detergent that came in a plastic container shaped like a washing machine (remember that, it was only briefly on the market). If I had had Minecraft then, oh what a COOL house Barbie would have had!!!

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