Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Raggedy Ann comes to lunch

raggedy ann 1

PLACERVILLE RESIDENT MARY SCHWIND is surrounded by Raggedy Ann dolls at St. Patrick Church Parish Hall in Placerville as she prepares for May 11 lunch. Democrat photos by Pat Dollins

From page A1 | May 13, 2013 | Leave Comment

It was a Raggedy Ann Luncheon on Saturday as the Ladies Society of St. Patrick Church gathered for their annual event.

Susan Meyer, who coordinated this year’s event, said it helps raise money to support different church projects. Two hundred tickets were sold with the proceeds going towards whatever projects the parish needs most. Past projects included updating the kitchen and repairing the roof.

Every year the Ladies Society picks a different theme for the luncheon. In past years it was hats, antique aprons and Cinco de Mayo. This year it was Raggedy Ann and Andy. On each table was a fun table setting featuring Raggedy dolls along with tea sets and other toys. Festooned around the room were lots and lots more dolls as well as books starring the red-headed moppets. The stage featured vignettes from a child’s room in 1915, the year when Raggedy Ann was born, and one from 1976 — the 200th anniversary of the founding of the country.

The lunch menu continued the theme of the event and was based on what a housewife would have served in 1915 at a typical Sunday dinner. Included was pot roast and gravy, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, buttermilk biscuits, and a jello salad made with fruit cocktail served on a piece of iceberg lettuce. Desserts were auctioned off, with tables bidding for the homemade dessert of their choice from the more than 30 different ones available.

Most of the Raggedy Anns and Andys came from a collection owned by Mary Schwind of Placerville. She said all of hers came from thrift stores and as gifts from friends and relatives. She only started collecting about 14 months ago, but already has several hundred of them — some very old and others new. But all with the same soft huggable body and mop of flaming red yarn hair.

Schwind said she never had a Raggedy doll or book as a child but many friends told her stories of having one made for them and how that doll became their best friend. “They are really stories about people loving each other,” she said.

Schwind said Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy have been a part of American history for a long time. Their creation dates back to Johnny Gruelle, who was an artist, political cartoonist, children’s book author and illustrator, and creator of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy.

Gruelle had a young daughter with a heart condition and to keep her company he gave her an old rag doll his mother had made 50 years earlier. He would make up stories to go with the doll and would also watch his daughter make up stories as she played with the doll. When his daughter later died at the age of 13, Gruelle decided to sell the dolls, as well as the books he wrote featuring the dolls, in order to honor his daughter and their relationship. He wanted other children to have the same enjoyment his daughter did with her doll.

“The stories (Gruelle wrote) were all about love and how to be loving towards each other,” said Schwind, who seems to be a collector of many things, including other types of dolls and items she uses to decorate rooms for all kinds of events. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years,” she said, noting that she enjoys taking an empty space and turning it into something joyful.

As part of the luncheon, Schwind planned to tell the story of Raggedy Ann and Andy while standing on stage in the re-created bedroom from the past, surrounded by her dolls.

“Every doll here was bought by someone who loved someone else,” she smiled, looking around the now decorated room and admiring her work.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


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