Barbie Doll from the Dime Store

Barbie dolls, with which so many baby boomerettes played as children, have morphed these days into everything from “Barbie Video Girl” to “Totally Tattoos Barbie.” But for Erin O’Brien of Redondo Beach, California, there is no substitute and never will be for the Barbie she remembers as a little baby boomer: Barbie from the Dime Store.

I spotted her at the dime store (wait — are they still called that?!). She had changed over the years. These days she was sporting a suntan and was not as well-endowed as I recalled (and I’m not referring to her inheritance.)


Barbie: the doll, the icon. My mother did not permit us to own Barbies. Instead, we had Barbie’s less-endowed teenage friends. My sister had Francie who wore her hair in a groovy flip, and I had Casey with her hair styled in an asymmetrical vamp, accented by a long gold earring.

Erin O'Brien

Erin O’Brien

Francie and Casey had knees that bent, a very practical feature which allowed them to kneel in church, almost cross their legs, and walk in a more natural manner and a little less like Frankenstein. My mom soon regretted her purchase as she compared the sound of their bending knees to cracking knuckles.

I bought the Barbie doll and drove home, thinking of the packing materials I still hadn’t recycled. Maybe Barbie would have the pool raft, pet kittens, end table, and the plastic coat hanger that she didn’t even know she needed.

After all these years I haven’t lost my touch, and I was pleased to discover that although the pool raft was a little wide, on the light blue carpet I could envision Barbie basking in the sun in her swimming pool. My husband commented on her great figure. I told him he should have seen Barbie in her prime.


I decided that Barbie’s kittens, two small pieces of Styrofoam that came in a new pair of shoes, were of the Angora kind, white and fluffy. The little black hanger which a new pair of socks came on worked as a coat hanger for her little bikini, just as in days of yore. And the little-white-plastic-thing-that-keeps-the-cheese-from-sticking-to-the-top-of-the-pizza-box? Well, it turned out to be a little short as an end table for Barbie, but maybe not for her child, the fuchsia-haired Troll doll…


I’m already planning my next trip to the dime store. They used to have Trolls there.

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  1. Thank you, Erin. Isn’t amazing how it’s not always the earth-shattering events that are most significant in our lives. More often, it’s the small things, many long forgotten, that touch and shape us more deeply.

  2. I used to love myself for hours in Barbie’s world when I was a kid. My Barbie’s BF was Gumby, by the way! Thank you for rekindling those memories!

  3. My mom wouldn’t let me have a Barbie, either. I got her little, completely unendowed sister, Skipper. As a teen, years later, I rebelled by buying my 7 y/o sister a Malibu Skipper & myself a Malibu Barbie for Christmas. By then, Mom had mellowed a bit. 🙂

  4. Such wonderful Barbie memories!! Unfortunately, I was one of those children that cut Barbie’s hair, anticipating it to grow back! Needless to say, they all ended up with “bob” haircuts! Love the memories Erin!!

  5. instead of Casey your mom could have bought you Ken. I don’t think they sold many Ken dolls. I’ll bet that made him feel bad.

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