Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dinah...........


Let me introduce you all to Dinah.  Dinah is one of my most prized possessions.  She belonged to my grandmother's sister Rhoda.  Rhoda was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings and she was adored by everyone.  She was a beautiful young woman and died at the age of 16 during the great flu epidemic of 1918.


This is a picture of her a couple of years before her death if my memory serves me correctly.  My grandmother was the middle child of five.  She grew up in a poor farming family in Orillia, Canada.  Buying a doll for a child at that time was very hard to do as money was tight in a big family.  I think they must have got Dinah on sale as she was bought without any clothes and if you look closely you can see that her feet are on backward.  My grandmother made the clothes and necklace for her beloved little sister's doll.  My grandmother was older when Rhoda came along, she got called back from nursing school to tend to her ailing siblings when they caught the flu, Rhoda and her older sister Maggie, died just two days apart. 


This photo is of my grandmother and her older sister Maggie and brother Bill.  She must have been around three in this photo.  Can you imagine nursing your siblings and then having them die so close together?  After the worst of the epidemic was over my grandmother returned to nursing school and became a nurse much to the dismay of her family.  She was a very independent woman back when that was not well thought of.  She remained very independent all of her life and died at the age of 92 when I was 20.


When I was a little girl and was staying over at my grandmother's house she would reach up high on her closet shelf and bring Dinah down to show us.  She was wrapped in a plastic bag, much like an old dry cleaning bag.  It is a wonder she is preserved as well as she is.  We would be told the story of Rhoda and how precious she was.

I received Dinah a few years after my grandmother's death.  I kept her wrapped up to save her from the humidity in Florida until I could afford a nice glass case for her.  She sits on the top of a music stand in my bedroom that also belonged to my grandmother's family.  I keep all the blinds shut in my room and she is away from the sun so she stays nice and dry and doesn't seem to age a bit.  I have to admit I was scared to death of her when I was little, I thought she would jump out of that closet at my grandmothers and get me!  My boys have always thought she is a bit creepy, but when I tell them the story of her life and that of Rhoda it helps to make her more precious.

As best as I can guess Dinah is over 100 years old.  It is so sad that my grandmother lost her sisters, both of whom had so much to live for.  So many people lost loved ones during that time, farm accidents, childbirth, the flu, it was a way of life for them.  My grandmother never got over the loss of her sisters, especially Rhoda who was the light of her life at that time.


39 comments:

Blondie's Journal said...

This really was a sad story, I had a lump in my throat after reading the sisters passed away two days apart. But your grandmother living so long, bless her. The doll is amazing and you are so respectful of her. She's a beautiful piece of the past.

I don't know if I missed a post about your trip to NC. I know that area had torrential rain. I hope we are all smooth sailing now. We finally have normal temps in the 70's here.

Have a great weekend!

Jane

Elizabeth Woods said...

What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. I live in Toronto, about ninety minutes south of Orillia. It would have been a hard life there in the early 1900's, lots of cold and snow.

CJ said...

What a moving story Meredith. Times were very hard back then weren't they. Hard to imagine losing two siblings like that. I can see why your beautiful doll is such a treasured possession. And I love how carefully you are looking after her. CJ xx

kathy b said...

What a great story. Dinah and becoming a nurse and a doll to keep the history going. Lovely

Janet said...

What a sad story. It is lovely that your grandmother looked after the doll because it keeps the memory of Rhoda alive. Thank you for sharing the story.

Dee said...

I imagine those doll babies were much loved and played with back then.

I doubt little girls today play with baby/child dolls much anymore. :-(

While I'll admit, I agree with your boys --- I'm glad you got to give Dinah a good home.

(I've NEVER liked china dolls or clowns. They totally creep me out, especially if the china dolls have those teeny tiny teeth.)

Melanie said...

What a touching, beautiful story. I'm so glad you have Dinah and are taking such good care of her.

Caffeine Girl said...

No, I can't imagine what that must have felt like. What a terrible thing. And so many people suffered such losses. But your grandmother found a way to redeem them. She sounds like a wonderful, brave woman.

Araignee said...

What gorgeous photos....so haunting.
I inherited a doll that is very similar to that. Her name is Zelda and she was my great grandmother's. She also lost a 4 year old daughter to the flu epidemic. My mother was named after her. Zelda is all jointed wood and bald as her wig disappeared before I was born. I used to keep her way back in the closet when I was a child because she is so scary looking. Now she sits in my sewing room. I made her a dress and bought her a wig but she still is rather frightening, poor thing.

Gracie Saylor said...

Thank you for the introduction to Dinah and the story of how she came to be with you. Even though your family history reflects the common loss from illness in that time, I am glad you can remember and remind us of it. Life is precious. I can imagine how you might have been scared of Dinah and then that your boys may have thought she was creepy. Isn't it amazing how some little girls came to treasure corncob dolls or rag dolls? Love is powerful! xxxxxx

Becky L. said...

Interesting doll story and how sad to have two deaths in the family so close. My dad was the youngest and was born in 1916. He had a sister that died close to 16 yrs of age. Can't remember what she died from though. My daughter couldn't stand mannequins in stores when she was real young. Your grandma sounds like strong and wonderful woman. Thanks for the story of your family and photos.

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Oh my! That doll is an incredible piece of your family history! Along with the photos and the stories. Amazing! Such a hard time for them all during that period. Such heartbreak. But it certainly sounds like your grandma was a very strong, independent woman. She did what she wanted and even lived to the ripe old age of 92. Wow! Truly incredible. Such a blessing that you were able to spend time with her until you were 20 and old enough to have memories of her life. Especially to hear the stories of the past that you are able to now share today. Our hot water heater in the loft above the bathroom started leaking over a week ago. I had boxes stored up there filled with photos and items I've saved since my elementary school years. Sadly, much has to be tossed -- like my sketchbook from middle school. Some things I'm trying to save, like the dolls from around the world that my mom collected for me when I was little. And the presents from Vietnam that my dad brought back. Years ago, mice got to the little traditional doll with an eggshell head. But there's boxes of mementos that I must go through and part with. Not an easy process. I will now display what I can and make scrapbooks of the photos that I save. I'm glad to see ou put Dinah in a glass case so that you can enjoy her presence daily. Hugs and blessings, Tammy

mamasmercantile said...

Such a moving story, to lose two siblings just two days apart must have been heart breaking. Dinah is such a lovely doll and I am sure will be treasured for many more generations.

linda said...

What a precious treasure Meredith and what a sad story no wonder the doll is special to you. There were so many disease related deaths back then it must have been hard for families to deal with. My Mother told me that there always seemed to be a coffin in the front room when she was a child so sad. :) xx

Jo said...

What a sad story, I can't imagine how hard it would have been for the family to lose two siblings so close together, simply tragic. I think dinah is lovely, full of character and once you know her back story, you realise how special she is.

Vicki Boster said...

Meredith- she is so special and beautiful. What a treasure you have!! It's especially wonderful that you know her history. It's just an amazing story...
Vicki

Karen said...

This is such a tender story. Your grandmother sounds like a good woman. I admire her strength and determination. I have my great-grandmother's doll. It's stored away, but you've reminded me that I should look into a way of displaying it.

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

Unimaginably heartbreaking. I really wasn't expecting this story when I saw that photo in my reading list this morning. Admittedly, I get the creeps easily from dolls, but I always enjoy your writing, and this might be favourite blog entry of yours yet.
It is a beautiful thing that you keep Dinah so well, honouring the precious story she represents. Life is only meaningful if we are able to give it meaning. Your beautiful Grandmother taught you that years ago. What a blessing.
Thank-you so much for sharing.
Andrea

Teresa Kasner said...

What a story of family love, devotion, loss and a life of missing a lost sister. I think that a person who dies young is the saddest thing ever.. a whole long life lost. You're so lucky that your doll was loved her whole life.. and that you have her. I have my great grandmother's high chair.. and it's such a treasure to me. I hope your weekend was divine. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Teresa Hennes said...

I know that I would not have liked to live back then! I read a lot of history novels and they had so many hardships. Just think of all of the things your grandma had seen in her life. All the improvements in medicine. You are so lucky to have this story. I don't know anything about my grandparents Childhoods. I have seen some pictures of my grandpa's childhood. I received a lot of pictures of grandparents and great grandparents when mom passed away in January. But you have a great story to put with the beautiful doll! Please record the story to keep with the doll. Your grandmother sounds like she was a wonderful lady and very strong/independent!

AnnieOBTextiles said...

Dinah is a precious part of your family history and how wonderful that she is part of your home today and not hidden away in a closet. Such a tragic story that must have been familiar to many families at that time. Your Grandmother sounds to have been a strong, determined, loving women who must have had so much courage.

Betsy said...

My heart goes out to your Grandmother when I think of what she must have gone through and makes me grateful for the vaccines we have today. So many don't realize the tragedies like this that they prevent. Your grandmother must have been an amazing woman to nurse her family and then go back to school after loosing them. I have a doll very similar to yours that belonged to my mother. It was her mothers. My Mom was born in 1923 so I think they are close to the same age! My kids, especially Alex, have always thought she was creepy and "watching" him!
Blessings,
Betsy

Christina said...

How very sad to loose to children to the flu. It was a terrible epidemic, it really was. I can see why you were terrified of Dinah when you were a child, she is- in all her beauty - a little bit creepy. I guess we are used to life like soft plastic baby dolls now and playing dolls is more like a playing parent game, whereas with a doll like Dinah, she would have been a best friend. Have a wonderful week my friend. x

Val said...

Such a beautiful and sad story Meredith thank you and what a precious treasure you have. It's lovely to know she is with someone who appreciates how precious she is.

Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nance said...

Your great-aunt Rhoda was lovely. You resemble her more than a little, as I'm sure you know.

Having her great treasure is a very meaningful legacy, as you so beautifully shared here. It's obvious that Dinah rests with the right person, as do the memories of Aunt Rhoda.

Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Summer said...

Rhoda was so beautiful...♥ Nice meeting Dinah too☺ Happy Sunday, Meredith ♥

summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

Jo said...

What a story, I am sure the doll with all it's family history will live on in your family especially now it is protected in the case. Jo x

gaia said...

Hello Meredith,
This is such a moving story! But it must be nice to have something from your ancestors to remember them by.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Such a sweet and sad story. What a precious doll to own and keep the memories of your family with you.
hugs!

Valentina Olden Patterns said...

Now that's some story. Sad, indeed, but I'm fascinated by your grandma's strength - from the way you write and tell us about your life, I do believe you're very much like her.
And though I'm not a child I do find the doll a bit creepy TBH, but it's such a treasure to have her after all those years... amazing.

Willow said...

That's a precious story. I have a couple of old dolls which belonged to my mother and probably her mother. I keep them in my grandma's cedar chest since I have the opposite problem from Florida--it's very dry here. (Is that why black widow spiders thrive here??) I love that you have written the story of the doll--it reminds me to do that for my children so they know why I've kept a few things...
Oh, about your last post--one doesn't 'innocently browse ravelry'. LOL

Vera said...

Wonderful story and fabulous pictures Meredith.

Cheryl mylittlepieceofengland said...

Such a sad story, but so good that it's been remembered and passed down, just like precious Dinah xx

Lilbitbrit said...

Such a family story and doesn't that doll put a bridge over time. So lovely to still have that. Thank you for sharing.

Pradeepa said...

I'm a little late in reading your blog post. Such a precious treasure and a very sad story. How hard it must have been for the family to lose 2 children just 2 days apart. Rhoda must have been a very beautiful girl.

Jodiebodie said...

Hi Meredith,
I'm finally catching up on your news. What an amazing treasure is Dinah. How bittersweet that she is both a memory of a beautiful family member but also a symbol of a tragic loss.
It is interesting to notice the 'backwards' feet. Is there any sign that perhaps they had been mended and swapped or do you think they were an error of manufacture? It is amazing that she has survived so long and you are doing a great job of preserving her. The materials would be so fragile.
Your photographs are fascinating yet sad to think of what happened to your relatives. We do live in fortunate times.
It is a nice tribute for you to dedicate a little space on your blog for her and your family history.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story but i hope your dog is getting better