Remembering Original Barbie and the Cowboy Craze

Staffers at the Missouri Division of Tourism recently were asked to share memories of their favorite Gifts from Christmas Past, with the caveat their responses should be:

  • Totally superficial
  • Related to gifts received before age 17 or 18.

Overall, the results were varied, but fairly heavy on dolls and music-playing devices.

In this, our final installment, the focus is on MDT’s wily veterans, Dee Ann and Scotty.

The original Barbie Doll (image from http://goo.gl/SEiPa)

The original Barbie Doll (image from http://goo.gl/SEiPa)

Dee Ann’s favorite gifts arrived on Christmas of 1959 and in 1961; the first was an original Barbie, the second, of course, was Ken.

“There was only one version of each and they were the hot-ticket items those years,” Dee Ann says. “I thought I was pretty hot stuff on Christmas day, changing their clothes and accessorizing their outfits. That was, until my cousins started laughing at the way I put Ken’s pants on him – hey, my slacks zipped in the back, why didn’t his?”

Dee Ann treasured her Barbie and Ken dolls (retail of $4-$5 at the time) and kept them safe, in storage, through moves to six states over the course of 30-plus years.

In 1992, it was discovered the earthen basement of one of Dee Ann’s former homes (built circa 1889) was not well-suited for plastics preservation.

Both Barbie and Ken met a rotten end.

Literally.

The dolls rotted to pieces.

Scotty grew up in an age when little boys looked up to cowboys and western stars, which explains why he wears a sheriff’s badge to work.

His No. 1 gift was a genuine Hopalong Cassidy two-blade pocketknife. Although he now says its value is incalculable, it retailed for about $2 when he was a kid.

“I would sit in the back yard and eat a real cowboy dinner, just like I was out on the range,” Scotty says.

His favorite meal was canned Vienna sausages, also known as “teenie-weenies,” with creamed corn, beans and a biscuit, all slopped together in a pie pan and served with a tin cup of sarsaparilla (root beer).

In his best Wild West cowboy voice, Scotty adds, “That knife sliced up a bunch-a them thar ‘teenie-weenies’ and biscuits. The bad guys wouldn’t dare try to steal my grub, long as I had my Hopalong Cassidy two-blade pocketknife close-by.”

Scotty still has the knife, though he admits, “It ain’t much good fer cuttin so good nomore.”

The other gift on Scotty’s list was an authentic Lash Larue bullwhip. It was actually autographed by Larue at the Missouri State Fair. Scotty kept the whip for about a year – it sounded like a rifle shot when he popped it just right – but it “disappeared” after he nearly put out his best friend’s eye.

For Scotty, the lost gift is a tragic reminder of youthful folly.

“It’s long gone,” Scotty says of the bull whip, “but not forgotten.”

This was the final installment (thankfully) of MDTs memories of Gifts of Christmas Past. We hope you enjoyed it.

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