My Life as a Doll Doctor- How it all started





As promised….I am going to tell you how this entire “Doll-Doctor” thing got started. No… I did not decide in High School, talk to a career planner, or even realize I was destined to become a Doll Doc until I actually was one! I do however, think my Dad may have known early on. You see, when I was a child I would beg him each Sunday..”Daddy–can I go with you to the Dump…pleeeeeze?”

Now for those of you born during the “waste management” decades–let me describe what our local dump was like….(and why my mother actually did send me to charm school by the time I was 11.) The “Dump” was a few miles up this stinky desolate dirt road–through many twists and turns that would probably ruin today’s cars. It was actually the place you brought your trash to once a week–especially if you lived in the suburbs. Although my Mom did not understand why her only girl would want to go to such a filthy the age of about 5–my Dad would give me that look and say “hop in”. Off we would go, and I knew I was in heaven when I started smelling the fire. Yes….a big stinking, smoky mountain of garbage in one area, burning rubber tires in another…and just beyond the old refrigerators–“TOYS”…dirty broken toys, wagons, a few old shoes..and YES–DOLLIES!   I would come home at least once a month with some old injured dolly that someone actually had the nerve to throw away. To me this was a living, breathing Dolly!! I would ask my Dad…”Oh can I take her home pretty Pleeeeeze?” He would always give me that look and say yes of course. They were my first patients–and I always felt I was saving them from a terrible fate. I think my Dad always knew they were a treasure to me…..and my fate would somehow be tied to this path forever. (Some things Never Change)

Still Saving Dollies


Click here to find out more about the Tonner Doll Hospital

11 responses to “My Life as a Doll Doctor- How it all started

  1. We used to have a “dump” very close to the house I grew up in. Once a week my dad would take us there right before dropping us off at school. We had fun riding over the big bumpy parts leading into it. Haven’t thought of that place in years until reading this!

    Lots of broken, crushed toys and maybe one old baby doll but that was about it. Believe me, I was looking! LOL!

    1. Hi Jason,
      You know exactly what I am talking about!! Yes…those roads to the dump were never paved…and were better than a Carnival Ride at times. I still vividly remember the smoldering fires…ashes everywhere. I am glad I wasn’t the only one looking out for something I could bring home and save!!

  2. While reading your post this thought came into my mind- “Saving dreams, one doll at a time”. When i was growing up near Cincinnati, my mom took me to a doll hospital there to have an Alexander Portrait re-strung. It was a wonderful place and they took their mission seriously. This was in the early 70s, its long gone i suppose. Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Gina,
      Thanks so much! I love that description of a Doll Hospital…“Saving dreams, one doll at a time”. Sadly, not too many Doll Hospitals are left–but I can tell you we are a devoted bunch and will do almost anything to bring back the feelings that one doll brought to someone. I love how my blog has been bringing back memories to those reading it. Those childhood memories bring us all back to such a wonderful place..

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not the only one who made visits to the dump with your father. I remember trips to the dump with my father, too. However, he would not let me take anything from the dump due to the filth factor. The memories of that field of discarded toys stayed with me my whole life, and the reason for my rescuing old battered dolls to this day.

    1. I had a feeling I was not the only one- who as a child felt the need to rescue these poor dolls. Hopefully today many are donated to Thrift Shops and Goodwill type places so children like me do not have to rummage through such places!

  4. I am so glad that there is finally a reputable doll hospital by a trusted name available.

    My mother bought for me 2 dolls with wardrobes: a Ginny and a Miss Revlon. I have loved and cared for both of them for over half a century. But, two dolls were not enough for me. I have been collecting old dolls ever since my children were finally grown and gone to lives of their own. Patty Playpal, bisques, Tyler, Kitty (18 inch), Jonquil…and a host of others. They, too, are not in pristine condition, but they are loved just the same.

    The saddest story is an eBay one–a Chatty Cathy purchase from a couple in Canada who are no longer allowed to sell on eBay. Before putting the doll in the mail (it took almost six months to finally get her), he pulled off the head, broke the neck flange off, and replaced the head, which rolled off when I opened the box. Needless to say, I no longer purchase my dolls on eBay; I trawl the antique shops instead.

    1. Hi Jo, how sad that you had such a bad experience with that seller! Unfortunately….Ebay involves plenty of trust and although dolly people are usually so wonderful…sellers may not always be. Always try your local antique shops and second hand shops first as this way–you get to see what you are buying. Also….some sellers will give you references so you can check. I feel your pain, as I too have purchased a few dolls with undisclosed issues.

  5. I live in Kingston and my granddaughter is constantly visiting your doll hospital on Hurley Ave. She has doll parts all over my home. He dolls pieces are made of sculptures. She makes head and busts and bodies etc and is very good. You actually gave her a tonner doll to work on.
    that is not why I am emailing. My mother moved every six months when I was growing up in Brooklyn and Saugerties and Kingston and Long Island . My first Dy dee doll was lost when I was 6 and then I had a Betsy Wetsy lost around 7.
    I vowed my daughter would never have to lose a doll. I bought her all kinds of dolls in the 50’s 60’s etc. I even had an original Shirley Temple of mine for her.
    We had Barbies, Little Miss No Name , the one that grew her hair out etc.
    Well, we had a fire in the house and lost them all. so I am very happy to know that there is a doll hospital in our area. Great way to spend your life. Good luck Bonnie

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      Oh how sad about that fire…..I know how horrible that must have been for you. I am happy to hear that your granddaughter shares the same love and passion as you do. I do know how talented she is…and her love of dolls is heart-warming!!

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