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November 18, 2021

A Cornucopia of Thanks for the Helen Keller Doll

November–A Month of Thanksgiving

Part 3.  A Cornucopia of Thanks to Mattel

For the Helen Keller Doll–with Braille!

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                In 1959, when Mattel debuted the Barbie doll, I, at age nine, preferred my own collection of dolls and other similar dolls who looked nothing like Barbie.  Nevertheless, all of these decades later, I do give a cornucopia of thanks to Mattel for recently creating the Barbie Inspiring Women Series of dolls and most especially for the company’s designing of the Helen Keller doll with braille on the packaging and a braille book in the doll’s left hand.  Besides Helen Keller, other dolls in the Inspiring Women Series include Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, Lucille Ball, Ella Fitzgerald, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

                The primary reason I applaud Mattel for the Helen Keller doll is that the doll is placed in a clear plastic box on which is embossed very well grade-two (contracted) braille.  On the front panel of the plastic box is the phrase “Helen Keller” on the first line and “Educator” on the following line.  The back panel of the box has, in braille, a biographical sketch of Ms. Keller (June 27, 1880-June 1, 1968).  To have such a doll so readily accessible through Amazon and other popular stores is amazing. 

                Well, I just had to purchase one of the Helen Keller dolls to checkout the braille and the doll.  I was so glad that I did.  The doll is fashioned in a pretty lace-trimmed, cream-colored blouse with long multi-colored striped skirt and with a hairstyle that would have been typical of Ms. Keller during the early 1900s when she was a student at Radcliffe College.  As you may know, she was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

                I have two extremely minor connections with this Helen Keller story.  First, thanks to the Scholastic Book version of Helen Keller’s THE STORY OF MY LIFE, I was introduced to the braille alphabet which was pictorially represented at the end of the paperback book that I was happy to purchase at my elementary school.  Secondly, my first guide dog’s puppy-raisers  named my Golden Retriever after Ms. Keller.  In March of 1990, Leader Dog School did not tell students the birthdates of the Leader Dogs:  all I knew about my Keller’s birthday was that it was in June of 1988.  Thus, we always celebrated my Leader Dog Keller’s birthday on June 27–the anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth.  During the years that Keller was my impressive guide dog, a few times, when I was introduced to someone for the first time, the person recalled that my guide dog’s name was Keller and mistakenly remembered my name as “Helen.” 

                Consequently, I decided to pose my current Leader Dog Willow in front of my raspberry-colored recliner after I had carefully placed a twelve-by-fourteen-inch framed photo of my Leader Dog Keller and the Helen Keller doll on the recliner.  With the help of my sister and brother-in-law in Colorado via Facetime, I (we) took a number of photos until we captured one very good photograph to share in my Christmas cards this year. 

                I am happy to have this souvenir photo of the Helen Keller doll with my first and fourth Leader Dogs because my plan is to give the doll to a young girl who is blind and who reads braille–and who would like a doll for Christmas.  Of the gifts I will give this holiday season, this gift of the Helen Keller doll will be the most meaningful to me and the one that will make this Christmas season special and memorable.

NOTE:  Please imagine that the trademark symbol was placed with the use of the word Mattel and Barbie. 

May all of your gift-giving bring you smiles!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

November 17, 2021, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. Carole permalink

    What a lovely and generous gift idea, Alice! I’m sure the little recipient will be overjoyed! We will also look forward to your unique Christmas greeting and souvenir photo!

    • Hi, Carole–Thanks for reading this post, giving it a “like,” and
      sending such a nice comment.

      Early Thanksgiving wishes to you and all of your family!

      Alice and Willow

  2. OK, so now I’ve found that doll on Amazon, along with a book for young children. Perhaps a Christmas gift for a granddaughter!

    • Good morning, Linda–I am so glad that you read this post and found the
      photo of the doll on Amazon, along with a book.  The book that I still
      have since middle school days has Helen Keller with an Akita dog on the
      book cover.

      Early Thanksgiving wishes to you and yours, as well as all CRC neighbors!

      Alice and Willow

  3. Susan McKendry permalink

    Thanks for this information about the Helen Keller doll as well as the dolls honoring other American women. I had no idea such dolls existed.–good role models for young girls. Some little girl will be so happy with your gift!

    • Good afternoon, Sue–I was glad to read your comment today on this
      post.  Thank you!

      Early Thanksgiving wishes!

      Take care–Alice and Willow

  4. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    I would love to see the joy on the face of the little girl who receives your special gift! Thanks for sharing the Christmas spirit!
    Merry Christmas to you and Willow,

    • Hi, Mary–Thanks foryour comment on this post.  I am so pleased because
      this post will also appear in the December issue of NEWSREEL magazine,
      as will my short story “Merry Christmas, from the Mary Club.”   Guess
      who narrated one of these pieces for me!

      With thanks for all–Alice and Willow

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