Weekend Wander – 9 June, 2018

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My copy is the 23rd edition published in 1926. Published by then PF Volland Co.

Beloved Belindy by Johnny Gruelle

For our writing group we had to write a paragraph or two about one of the oldest objects we still own.  Of course I thought of my childhood books and decided to introduce the group to Beloved Belindy.

I own quite a few very old books. Although I don’t have many left over from my childhood this is one that has travelled with me whenever I moved. I don’t remember how I acquired it but it has been with me for more than 60 years.

As a child I loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy series of books written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle.

Johnny Gruelle, according to Wikipedia, was born in Arcola, Illinois, in 1880. He died in 1938.Snip20180609_8

He began his career as a painter and cartoonist but then went on to illustrate books. He was friends with James Whitcomb Riley who wrote Little Orphan Annie.

The story goes that his daughter Marcella brought from her grandmother’s attic a faceless doll on which the artist drew a face. But this story was evidently a myth according to his biographer, Patricia Hall. In reality, Gruelle’s wife Myrtle told Hall, it was Gruelle who retrieved a long forgotten, homemade rag doll from the attic of his parent’s home sometime around the turn of the 20th century. There was something he was looking for in the attic when he found an old doll his mother had made for his sister. He thought it would make a good story.

 

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You can see how many friends she had to care for.

What he was most famous for was his series of books about two rag dolls called Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I read everyone of those books from the Grand Ledge, Michigan library in the 1950’s.

All of the dolls in the Raggedy Ann and Andy series came to life at night and played in their mistress’s playroom upstairs in an old house.  They had big adventures and got into much  mischief.  Not only did Ann and Andy come to life but they had quite a few friends. Readers never knew if they were brother and sister or husband and wife. We never thought about it.

There was Beloved Belindy who was the black nanny who took care of everyone.  I know Beloved Belindy isn’t politically correct but back in the 1950’s I adored her. She could cook large meals, gather eggs from the hens and organise garden parties.  One night she cleaned up Percy the policeman when he got covered in flour from some misadventure they encounted when they ventured into the kitchen. Beloved Belindy could also stitch their ragdoll injuries, sew button eyes back on if they fell off or mend their britches if they were snagged while climbing trees. 

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There was always a moral message in American children’s books.

They represented the best that friendship had to offer. They were kind to each other and worked together so they would enjoy the adventures they set out on each night. 

I used to think it would be wonderful if all of my dolls and stuffed animals came to life at night. I would have given anything at that time to hang out with the Raggedy Ann crew and share the events they organised.

Are there any American readers out there that loved these characters as a child, or dressed up as them on Halloween night?

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I laughed that Percy has to serve the plates because he is a man doll.
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As a child you know nothing about stereotypes.

 

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Raggedy Penguin

Author: TravellinPenguin

I live a retired life in Tasmania, Australia. I love books, travel, animals, photography, motor biking and good friends. I indulge in all these activities with the little Travellin' Penguin who has now shared four continents with me. We love book shops, photography walks and time with friends as all our family is in USA and Canada. I enjoy visitors to my blog so hope you'll stop by.

17 thoughts on “Weekend Wander – 9 June, 2018”

  1. I was scrolling by when I noticed the pictures. My. What to do with those?

    I remember having a Raggedy Andy in the house as a very young child, but the really problematic book we had was Little Black Sambo, which, I admit, I loved as a child. It was read to me over and over again. We even had The Uncle Remus book.

    There was another book that I loved even more called The Rabbit Who Wanted Little Red Wings which I found decades later when cleaning out my grandmother’s house. Turned out to be a really homophobic book. The rabbit who wished for the red wings and gets them, they were fabulous, went home only to be rejected by his mother who doesn’t recognize him as her boy. The artwork was beautiful, though.

    Is Beloved Belindy still in print? I wonder what the artwork looks like now.

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    1. I remember and also loved Little Black Sambo. No, Beloved Belindy would not be in print. Very negative stereotypes but I loved her and all of that of course went over my childish head. I have never heard of the Rabbit and the red wings. I have always loved the illustrations in those old books. I still have a very old, 1919 copy of Uncle Remus which is probably one of the favourite books I own. I loved Uncle Remus and would love to see Disney’s Song of the South which is now tucked away in archives somewhere. I am sure it’ll never resurface again.

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  2. opening my mother’s closet one December day in the early fifties, i saw that someone had made a Raggedy Ann and an Andy to go with; and i remember her chagrin when she realized i’d unwittingly discovered my intended Xmas presents! they were some of my favorite characters and i loved the stitched together creations for years…

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  3. This sounds so familiar to me but I don’t remember reading Beloved Belindy. I did read some Raggedy Ann/Andy books though. And of course, I had a Raggedy Ann doll who had a heart on the side of her belly.

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

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