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17th January 2015
Location: Interviewee’s home
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

Christina: the doll I want to talk about today she’s called Barbara, I would never call a doll. I mean. She’s Barbara, she is someone with a name, so let’s just get her out to show her to everyone. [takes Barbara off stool.] So that’s Barbara. And I remember very well the day, when I, when I, when I first saw her. It was Christmas, and I felt around the whole Christmas preparations that something special would happen. My mother kind of made sort of little comments. And so here was with a box, and I unwrapped and looked what was in that box, and I was just, from the very beginning, absolutely captivated and I think first of all I saw her hair, because it made me feel ‘Is she real, is she, what is she? Is she a doll?’ Because this is real hair. And my mother had a little kind of, almost a speech, saying ‘this is a very special doll, there’s only one like her.’ Because the lady who made the dolls, she was an artist and these dolls just had become quite famous actually and Barbara ended up with me because she had a problem with her arm. And she had been in an exhibition, and something happened to her, so my mother heard about this, I don’t know how, that there was a doll, and that doll had a problem with her arm, so it was affordable. That’s the point about it. But my mother, made me aware that this is something very special, so here she was with me, and yes, so when I look at her it brings back all the memories that I had her as I think, my friend really. I remember a few times I got up at night, in the middle of the night, because I had forgotten to undress her, put pyjama on. When I came back from school she had to sit down with me, and listen to me, sort of trying to learn to write, and read. I think she was just sort of more of an imaginary friend than a doll. And that hair kept me endlessly busy. I did everything I could do with this hair.

Andrea: So who was it that made her?

Christina: She’s called Sasha Morgenthaler. She is an artist, or she was an artist, she’s long passed away. She was a wife of a quite well known Swiss artist and big traveller, she has travelled all round the world, and that inspired her to create all sorts of different dolls. So this is really looking like a Swiss sort of girl, but the others, they were Tibetans, they were Africans, boys, they were from all around the world. She called them her children and she took them all very serious. Like me. Like I did.

03.47 – So I think really, to me, and probably to most girls who had, or adults, it’s that expression in her face and sort of the appearance of being a real child, being a proper little person, and I think to me that was the intriguing thing, that to me she was not a doll. I would never have called her a doll. She was just Barbara, as I said. And she had her own mind as well. I mean, she … I remember being angry with her, and I remember being really upset because of something I’d done to her or she’d done to me, and yeah. So when I grew older, say in my teens, everybody around me had long stopped playing with dolls of course. And I knew I should stop playing with her, you know, that she should somehow painlessly disappear out of my life, and I knew that would not be possible, and so I kept her a little bit longer and sort of late teens I think, one day, I can’t remember why exactly, but I decided ‘now, you just have to stop this.’ So I packed her all up, wrapped her all up, and put her in the loft, where everything ended that was of no more use any more, and so she was, and of course I couldn’t bear the thought she was up there. I remember once having a dream. I do remember, I remembered this morning when I was thinking about the interview. I dreamt that she had died, so I went up there and got her down and just introduced her back and thought, ‘you’ll just have to bear the embarrassment when people laugh at you for having a doll in your room.’

INTERVIEW ENDS – 06m 04s

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17th January 2015
Location: Interviewee’s home
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

00.04 – Christina: I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and that was in 1953.

Andrea: Okay. And is that were you spent your childhood?

Christina: Yes.

Andrea: Okay. So you spent all of your childhood in Zurich.

Christina: In Zurich, yes.

00.20 – Andrea: So when you were growing up, did you have a teddy bear?

Christina: No. My brother had one, not me. At the time actually, thinking about it, it was only boys who had bears, not so much girls. Girls had dolls. Yeah.

Andrea: Okay so . . .

Christina: When I moved to this country I realised that’s completely different in this country, you know. But in Switzerland, as far as I was aware around me at the time, and so that was sort of late 50s, the girls had dolls and boys had bears.

Andrea: So you didn’t feel that you wanted a bear, or should have had a bear?

Christina: No, not really, no.

Andrea: In that case let’s talk about your dolls.

Christina: [laughs]

Andrea: Did you have a doll?

01.10 – Christina: [laughs] I had quite a few dolls. Although the doll I want to talk about today she’s called Barbara, I would never call a doll. I mean. She’s Barbara, she is someone with a name, so let’s just get her out to show her to everyone. [takes Barbara off stool.] So that’s Barbara. And I remember very well the day, when I, when I, when I first saw her. It was Christmas, and I felt around the whole Christmas preparations that something special would happen. My mother kind of made sort of little comments. And so here was with a box, and I unwrapped and looked what was in that box, and I was just, from the very beginning, absolutely captivated and I think first of all I saw her hair, because it made me feel ‘Is she real, is she, what is she? Is she a doll?’ Because this is real hair. And my mother had a little kind of, almost a speech, saying ‘this is special doll, there’s only one like her.’ Because the lady who made the dolls, she was an artist and these dolls just had become quite famous actually and Barbara ended up with me because she had a problem with her arm. And she had been in an exhibition, and something happened to her, so my mother heard about this, I don’t know how, that there was a doll, and that doll had a problem with her arm, so it was affordable. That’s the point about it. But my mother, made me aware that this is something very special, so here she was with me, and yes, so when I look at her it brings back all the memories that I had her as I think, my friend really. I remember a few times I got up at night, in the middle of the night, because I had forgotten to undress her, put pyjama on. When I came back from school she had to sit down with me, and listen to me, sort of trying to learn to write, and read. I think she was just sort of more of an imaginary friend than a doll. And that hair kept me endlessly busy. I did everything I could do with this hair. Also my mother made her clothes, and one thing really upset me. Every single birthday when I had a new dress or something, my mother, because she was busy, she always half-finished it, the little dresses. So everything was not quite perfect, so Barbara had all these shirts and jumpers and something not quite finished.

Andrea: So how old were you when you got her?

Christina: Five

Andrea: Okay

Christina: Five or six. Yeah. And I have to say, she really stayed with me I mean if you like, for the rest of my life, because not only did I play with her passionately, I mean, the children who came to our house, they didn’t really have much of a choice what to do. And I was very aware of them not really dealing with Barbara properly. And I can see that, you know, looking back, that probably it also set me apart a little bit from other girls because they never had doll like this, I mean, they were seriously expensive at the time, seriously expensive. And they are now. I mean, if I were to sell her, that would give me, honestly, maybe 20,000 Swiss francs. [laughs]. Now, yeah. My brother hated her, the older brother. The younger brother, he had to be part of all this, you know, when we needed a male thing in our games, like a priest, or a father. So the younger brother, he was part. But the older brother, I think he just though ‘It’s such a fuss about a doll.’ And he actually threw her one day, when he was angry with me, he threw her up against a wall, which was, I mean, when that happened, it was just this moment of total silence, almost a sacrilege. You know, Barbara has been thrown. And we then went to see the lady and, who made Barbara, because one had to repair her at the back, nothing much happened really, and she was a lady with great authority. She wasn’t sort of girlish herself, or sweet. She had a very dark, low voice, and she was very strict and she wanted to know what had happened.

Andrea: So who was it that made her?

Christina: She’s called Sasha Morgenthaler. She is an artist, or she was an artist, she’s long passed away. She was a wife of a quite well known Swiss artist and big traveller, she has travelled all round the world, and that inspired her to create all sorts of different dolls. So this is really looking like a Swiss sort of girl, but the others, they were Tibetans, they were Africans, boys, they were from all around the world. She called them her children and she took them all very serious. Like me. Like I did.

Andrea: So is that one hand made?

Christina: Yes. Yes. It’s all hand made. She basically, she had a couple of women working for her at the time. The head is ceramic. She painted the face. The whole head is exclusively made by her. Every single head is different. And she later on then had a mould and the whole Sasha puppet turned into a mass operation like this one [picks up other doll] which I also had. So she [indicates Barbara] is kind of a unique piece, and this is a later version. Losing her pants. And of course again, I talk again about the hair, because they are all real hair, and I gave her later on hair from my grandmother, because she was collecting hair a lot, this lady. She also, the fabrics they had, were real baby and children sort of left behinds dresses and then she sort of used them to make the dresses for her dolls. And the body is, I mean there’s straw inside as far as I know, you can see sort of some trace here and this fabric around, yep. So I think really, to me, and probably to most girls who had, or adults, it’s that expression in her face and sort of the appearance of being a real child, being a proper little person, and I think to me that was the intriguing thing, that to me she was not a doll. I would never have called her a doll. She was just Barbara, as I said. And she had her own mind as well. I mean, she … I remember being angry with her, and I remember being really upset because of something I’d done to her or she’d done to me, and yeah. So when I grew older, say in my teens, everybody around me had long stopped playing with dolls of course. And I knew I should stop playing with her, you know, that she should somehow painlessly disappear out of my life, and I knew that would not be possible, and so I kept her a little bit longer and sort of late teens I think, one day, I can’t remember why exactly, but I decided ‘now, you just have to stop this.’ So I packed her all up, wrapped her all up, and put her in the loft, where everything ended that was of no more use any more, and so she was, and of course I couldn’t bear the thought she was up there. I remember once having a dream. I do remember, I remembered this morning when I was thinking about the interview. I dreamt that she had died, so I went up there and got her down and just introduced her back and thought, ‘you’ll just have to bear the embarrassment when people laugh at you for having a doll in your room.’

11.42 – Andrea: So do you now think of her as a doll?

Christina: Good question. Um. Not really, I have to say. She’s still with me, she’s still around. And because she brings so an intense collection of memories back of being in my life and being part of my life I still can’t really objectify her. She’s still more than a doll. And I have to say, she, I thought that just before as well, you know, she kept me somehow sane, you know. She really enriched my world as another friend. And yeah.

12.33 – Andrea: So you said you had other dolls. Did the other dolls play the same role?

Christina: No. Never. I mean I had a couple, of plastic dolls before that and they kind of moved into the background. They were also around, they had to be dressed etc, played a part in the family scenes, so whatever we played with, but she was sort of. She was the one between me and, almost to say, she was sort of a go between me and other dolls, so me and toys, so me and the world which is just the material world if you like. She was sort of something between. And you know, again, I thought about my choice of job. Later on I worked in museums, but also I wanted to study anthropology because I choose anthropology, I chose anthropology because you deal with lots of communities and cultures, non-European ones, who have strong ideas and beliefs that there is not such thing like material world and immaterial world. They have very flexible boundaries around this. And that a stone, or a puppet, you know, something like up there [gestures at figures on shelves] tiny little puppets, they are all, they are charged with something, they have a potency. And I think children have a sense for that. Children know that exactly. That things are not just things, they are more than that. And there’s a relationship between that. And so you can create it, that friendship. So yeah. So when I look at her, that what’s you are question again, yes, my adult self knows it’s a kind of a doll, but something in me immediately thinks ‘She knows all about it you know’. [laughs] She knows how important she was, and she knows that she kept me sane basically. Really, in a very crazy world that children have to grow up in.

14.45 – Andrea: I think it’s that thing of dolls, or objects in general, having their own lives

Christina: Yeah

Andrea: And their own stories

Christina: Absolutely

Andrea: It’s not just about how they relate to you. She probably has her own opinion about what you’re saying.

Christina: I totally agree. I totally agree. She was actually quite excited to be filmed today. But because she’s a well behaved little thing like I was you know, she’s not that kind of. I wish sometimes she would have been a bit more naughty, a bit. But I’m afraid she is a bit like, she was a bit like me, because I wasn’t naughty, I was this kind of, um yeah.

Andrea: So she didn’t do all the things you wanted to do but didn’t?

Christina: No, no, no, no. No, I think I needed her to be totally and to be totally on my side almost. I don’t know why, I never really thought further than that. But I felt I would have been a bit frightened almost if she had turned into a wild girl. I don’t know

Andrea: Well I’m, obviously not going to ask you how important she was to you, because you’ve already made that very, very clear. If I was to ask you if you had a best memory of her, do you have one memory of her that you can pinpoint?

Christina: I mean, spontaneously, what came to me was the moment of having opened up that box and unwrapped her, and that moment of ‘that’s incredible’, you know? I think there was a moment of me not being quite sure if she alive or not. And she has a lovely smile. So that was, it, just, I think it just meant to me there was something really important, something important happening to me by having her in my own life

Andrea: Is there anything else you want to say about her or any other dolls?

Christina: Not really

17.24 – Andrea: In that case, I’m going to ask you about construction toys, which your answer may be yes or may be no. Did you have any construction toys?

Christina: Not me, my brothers. Loads, loads. Wonderful ones actually. I remember vaguely of having joined in from time to time. Sort of wooden, sort of building houses, building train sets with them. But not really, it wasn’t really my thing.

Andrea: You weren’t interested. It wasn’t that you would have liked them but weren’t allowed them?

Christina: No.

Andrea: Just not interested

Christina: No. My parents. Most of the time, we played on our own, our parents couldn’t be bothered about this gender thing really. But I have to say, it was the 50s, and it was a very sort of bourgeois background, so you know, lots of educational toys around, lots of good toys around, and you know, I just fitted very well in the girls realm of all of this. Mind you, my brother was cooking a lot as a young child and later became a chef, but yeah, he broke through actually, and my parents encouraged that very much.

Andrea: So you said about the girls’ realm. When you were growing up, so you were in Zurich, what was the girls’ realm when it came to toys?

Christina: When it came to toys specifically? I had a dolls’ house, that was a very typical thing to have for a girl. Again, a very nice one. Mind you, I didn’t think it was very nice, because it was too educational. It was all wood, and I really didn’t like that. But you know, looking back, it was a very nice one. What else? Things like little suitcases with nursing things in it, sort of, to be a nurse [laughs], and to listen to people’s heart, so it was a little bit for a doctor as well. That was very interesting, because you then could then go to other peoples bodies and do all these things. What else to have? I have to say, with me, I was passionate, I was a bit obsessed about her. But other girls. I mean, I have to say, I was a lot out on the street as well, in the garden. So, with basically the same girls and boys, building huts on trees, and, yeah.

Andrea: So was Barbara an inside thing. Did she come with you when you went out, or was going out and playing outside something different?

Christina: No, she would never come out, no. She would stay in. There was a thing about her being sort of precious, yeah.

Andrea: So the playing outside was much more about things that didn’t involve toys I imagine.

Christina: There is one area, where I … We had two balconies, and I remember a lot playing on the balcony, where she was of course as well. But she wouldn’t be part of – shall we say, we build a hut on the tree, and then she would sit in the hut? I don’t think so. I can’t remember. I would take her out in a little – what are they called? – pushchair. So she could come out when there was maybe a family walk or something and she would be in a pushchair.

Andrea: So when you were a child, were there any toys – could be dolls, could be bears, could be construction toys, could be something else – was there anything that you really wanted but didn’t get?

[long pause]

Christina: No, not a toy, I don’t think so

22.05 – Andrea: Is there anything else about dolls, bears or construction toys that want to say that you haven’t said?

Christina: Just a very general comment, I would like to make. Because I’m now living in this country, and have been here for 15 years, that that whole area round giving her up and putting her back, and then having to squeeze her back in, into life, and live with the embarrassment of having a doll still around. Because when I moved to this country and I walked into other people’s homes there was this big relief to see in people’s houses dolls, soft toys, all sorts of toys, and people really happy to talk about them. So they seemed to move here with people into adulthood. And still around and people, as I said, are very happy to . . . I mean, I’ve heard so many stories from adults about soft toys and what they did with them, etcetera. Now you would never ever have that in Switzerland. [Laughs]. No, it would be a joke.

Andrea: That’s interesting. Any idea why not?

Christina: I mean, firstly, I mean, it’s a whole cultural thing, obviously. Zurich is a very Protestant place altogether. Very, very Protestant. So very far away from any fairy tale. I think it’s just, it’s looked at a little bit sort of childish, and . . . It might go together, if you look at the literature for children, it’s very different in Switzerland or Germany than it is here. I find literature for children in this country wonderful, you know. You couldn’t think of Harry Potter being written in German could you? It’s just, there’s something not quite the same really. So the whole world of having characters, and the characters come alive and they do all sorts of things real people can’t do but there are lots of other beings around that can do things. And sort of the whole idea that there are lots of creatures around doesn’t exist so much, you know? It’s different. I mean literature for children I find very educational, again, very serious and sort of well intentioned. Sorry, maybe I make a bit of a caricature around this. But you will never, I promise you, you will not find a bear or a doll in a person’s house who looks, who thinks he is an educated sort of person. Just, yeah.

Andrea: Okay. In that case, if you haven’t got anything else to say, I’m saying to say thank you very much. And I’m going to turn it off.

INTERVIEW ENDS – 25m 26s

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17th January 2015
Location: Interviewee’s home
Interviewer/Videographer: Andrea Dumbrell

Andrea: So, can you start off by telling me where you were born and when you were born? And that can be the year or it can be the decade, whichever you prefer

Christina: Okay. I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and that was in 1953.

Andrea: Okay. And is that were you spent your childhood?

Christina: Yes.

Andrea: Okay. So you spent all of your childhood in Zurich.

Christina: In Zurich, yes.

00.30 – Andrea: So when you were growing up, did you have a teddy bear?

Christina: No. My brother had one, not me. At the time actually, thinking about it, it was only boys who had bears, not so much girls. Girls had dolls. Yeah.

Andrea: Okay so . . .

Christina: When I moved to this country I realised that’s completely different in this country, you know. But in Switzerland, as far as I was aware around me at the time, and so that was sort of late 50s, the girls had dolls and boys had bears.

Andrea: So you didn’t feel that you wanted a bear, or should have had a bear?

Christina: No, not really, no.

Andrea: In that case let’s talk about your dolls.

Christina: [laughs]

Andrea: Did you have a doll?

Christina: [laughs] I had quite a few dolls. Although the doll I want to talk about today she’s called Barbara, I would never call a doll. I mean. She’s Barbara, she is someone with a name, so let’s just get her out to show her to everyone. [takes Barbara off stool.] So that’s Barbara. And I remember very well the day, when I, when I, when I first saw her. It was Christmas, and I felt around the whole Christmas preparations that something special would happen. My mother kind of made sort of little comments. And so here was with a box, and I unwrapped and looked what was in that box, and I was just, from the very beginning, absolutely captivated and I think first of all I saw her hair, because it made me feel ‘Is she real, is she, what is she? Is she a doll?’ Because this is real hair. And my mother had a little kind of, almost a speech, saying ‘this is special doll, there’s only one like her.’ Because the lady who made the dolls, she was an artist and these dolls just had become quite famous actually and Barbara ended up with me because she had a problem with her arm. And she had been in an exhibition, and something happened to her, so my mother heard about this, I don’t know how, that there was a doll, and that doll had a problem with her arm, so it was affordable. That’s the point about it. But my mother, made me aware that this is something very special, so here she was with me, and yes, so when I look at her it brings back all the memories that I had her as I think, my friend really. I remember a few times I got up at night, in the middle of the night, because I had forgotten to undress her, put pyjama on. When I came back from school she had to sit down with me, and listen to me, sort of trying to learn to write, and read. I think she was just sort of more of an imaginary friend than a doll. And that hair kept me endlessly busy. I did everything I could do with this hair. Also my mother made her clothes, and one thing really upset me. Every single birthday when I had a new dress or something, my mother, because she was busy, she always half-finished it, the little dresses. So everything was not quite perfect, so Barbara had all these shirts and jumpers and something not quite finished.

Andrea: So how old were you when you got her?

Christina: Five

Andrea: Okay

Christina: Five or six. Yeah. And I have to say, she really stayed with me I mean if you like, for the rest of my life, because not only did I play with her passionately, I mean, the children who came to our house, they didn’t really have much of a choice what to do. And I was very aware of them not really dealing with Barbara properly. And I can see that, you know, looking back, that probably it also set me apart a little bit from other girls because they never had doll like this, I mean, they were seriously expensive at the time, seriously expensive. And they are now. I mean, if I were to sell her, that would give me, honestly, maybe 20,000 Swiss francs. [laughs]. Now, yeah. My brother hated her, the older brother. The younger brother, he had to be part of all this, you know, when we needed a male thing in our games, like a priest, or a father. So the younger brother, he was part. But the older brother, I think he just though ‘It’s such a fuss about a doll.’ And he actually threw her one day, when he was angry with me, he threw her up against a wall, which was, I mean, when that happened, it was just this moment of total silence, almost a sacrilege. You know, Barbara has been thrown. And we then went to see the lady and, who made Barbara, because one had to repair her at the back, nothing much happened really, and she was a lady with great authority. She wasn’t sort of girlish herself, or sweet. She had a very dark, low voice, and she was very strict and she wanted to know what had happened.

Andrea: So who was it that made her?

Christina: She’s called Sasha Morgenthaler. She is an artist, or she was an artist, she’s long passed away. She was a wife of a quite well known Swiss artist and big traveller, she has travelled all round the world, and that inspired her to create all sorts of different dolls. So this is really looking like a Swiss sort of girl, but the others, they were Tibetans, they were Africans, boys, they were from all around the world. She called them her children and she took them all very serious. Like me. Like I did.

Andrea: So is that one hand made?

Christina: Yes. Yes. It’s all hand made. She basically, she had a couple of women working for her at the time. The head is ceramic. She painted the face. The whole head is exclusively made by her. Every single head is different. And she later on then had a mould and the whole Sasha puppet turned into a mass operation like this one [picks up other doll] which I also had. So she [indicates Barbara] is kind of a unique piece, and this is a later version. Losing her pants. And of course again, I talk again about the hair, because they are all real hair, and I gave her later on hair from my grandmother, because she was collecting hair a lot, this lady. She also, the fabrics they had, were real baby and children sort of left behinds dresses and then she sort of used them to make the dresses for her dolls. And the body is, I mean there’s straw inside as far as I know, you can see sort of some trace here and this fabric around, yep. So I think really, to me, and probably to most girls who had, or adults, it’s that expression in her face and sort of the appearance of being a real child, being a proper little person, and I think to me that was the intriguing thing, that to me she was not a doll. I would never have called her a doll. She was just Barbara, as I said. And she had her own mind as well. I mean, she … I remember being angry with her, and I remember being really upset because of something I’d done to her or she’d done to me, and yeah. So when I grew older, say in my teens, everybody around me had long stopped playing with dolls of course. And I knew I should stop playing with her, you know, that she should somehow painlessly disappear out of my life, and I knew that would not be possible, and so I kept her a little bit longer and sort of late teens I think, one day, I can’t remember why exactly, but I decided ‘now, you just have to stop this.’ So I packed her all up, wrapped her all up, and put her in the loft, where everything ended that was of no more use any more, and so she was, and of course I couldn’t bear the thought she was up there. I remember once having a dream. I do remember, I remembered this morning when I was thinking about the interview. I dreamt that she had died, so I went up there and got her down and just introduced her back and thought, ‘you’ll just have to bear the embarrassment when people laugh at you for having a doll in your room.’

Andrea: So do you now think of her as a doll?

Christina: Good question. Um. Not really, I have to say. She’s still with me, she’s still around. And because she brings so an intense collection of memories back of being in my life and being part of my life I still can’t really objectify her. She’s still more than a doll. And I have to say, she, I thought that just before as well, you know, she kept me somehow sane, you know. She really enriched my world as another friend. And yeah.

Andrea: So you said you had other dolls. Did the other dolls play the same role?

Christina: No. Never. I mean I had a couple, of plastic dolls before that and they kind of moved into the background. They were also around, they had to be dressed etc, played a part in the family scenes, so whatever we played with, but she was sort of. She was the one between me and, almost to say, she was sort of a go between me and other dolls, so me and toys, so me and the world which is just the material world if you like. She was sort of something between. And you know, again, I thought about my choice of job. Later on I worked in museums, but also I wanted to study anthropology because I choose anthropology, I chose anthropology because you deal with lots of communities and cultures, non-European ones, who have strong ideas and beliefs that there is not such thing like material world and immaterial world. They have very flexible boundaries around this. And that a stone, or a puppet, you know, something like up there [gestures at figures on shelves] tiny little puppets, they are all, they are charged with something, they have a potency. And I think children have a sense for that. Children know that exactly. That things are not just things, they are more than that. And there’s a relationship between that. And so you can create it, that friendship. So yeah. So when I look at her, that what’s you are question again, yes, my adult self knows it’s a kind of a doll, but something in me immediately thinks ‘She knows all about it you know’. [laughs] She knows how important she was, and she knows that she kept me sane basically. Really, in a very crazy world that children have to grow up in.

15.05 – Andrea: I think it’s that thing of dolls, or objects in general, having their own lives

Christina: Yeah

Andrea: And their own stories

Christina: Absolutely

Andrea: It’s not just about how they relate to you. She probably has her own opinion about what you’re saying.

Christina: I totally agree. I totally agree. She was actually quite excited to be filmed today. But because she’s a well behaved little thing like I was you know, she’s not that kind of. I wish sometimes she would have been a bit more naughty, a bit. But I’m afraid she is a bit like, she was a bit like me, because I wasn’t naughty, I was this kind of, um yeah.

Andrea: So she didn’t do all the things you wanted to do but didn’t?

Christina: No, no, no, no. No, I think I needed her to be totally and to be totally on my side almost. I don’t know why, I never really thought further than that. But I felt I would have been a bit frightened almost if she had turned into a wild girl. I don’t know

Andrea: Well I’m, obviously not going to ask you how important she was to you, because you’ve already made that very, very clear. If I was to ask you if you had a best memory of her, do you have one memory of her that you can pinpoint?

Christina: I mean, spontaneously, what came to me was the moment of having opened up that box and unwrapped her, and that moment of ‘that’s incredible’, you know? I think there was a moment of me not being quite sure if she alive or not. And she has a lovely smile. So that was, it, just, I think it just meant to me there was something really important, something important happening to me by having her in my own life

Andrea: Is there anything else you want to say about her or any other dolls?

Christina: Not really

17.34 – Andrea: In that case, I’m going to ask you about construction toys, which your answer may be yes or may be no. Did you have any construction toys?

Christina: Not me, my brothers. Loads, loads. Wonderful ones actually. I remember vaguely of having joined in from time to time. Sort of wooden, sort of building houses, building train sets with them. But not really, it wasn’t really my thing.

Andrea: You weren’t interested. It wasn’t that you would have liked them but weren’t allowed them?

Christina: No.

Andrea: Just not interested

Christina: No. My parents. Most of the time, we played on our own, our parents couldn’t be bothered about this gender thing really. But I have to say, it was the 50s, and it was a very sort of bourgeois background, so you know, lots of educational toys around, lots of good toys around, and you know, I just fitted very well in the girls realm of all of this. Mind you, my brother was cooking a lot as a young child and later became a chef, but yeah, he broke through actually, and my parents encouraged that very much.

Andrea: So you said about the girls’ realm. When you were growing up, so you were in Zurich, what was the girls’ realm when it came to toys?

Christina: When it came to toys specifically? I had a dolls’ house, that was a very typical thing to have for a girl. Again, a very nice one. Mind you, I didn’t think it was very nice, because it was too educational. It was all wood, and I really didn’t like that. But you know, looking back, it was a very nice one. What else? Things like little suitcases with nursing things in it, sort of, to be a nurse [laughs], and to listen to people’s heart, so it was a little bit for a doctor as well. That was very interesting, because you then could then go to other peoples bodies and do all these things.

What else to have? I have to say, with me, I was passionate, I was a bit obsessed about her. But other girls. I mean, I have to say, I was a lot out on the street as well, in the garden. So, with basically the same girls and boys, building huts on trees, and, yeah.

Andrea: So was Barbara an inside thing. Did she come with you when you went out, or was going out and playing outside something different?

Christina: No, she would never come out, no. She would stay in. There was a thing about her being sort of precious, yeah.

Andrea: So the playing outside was much more about things that didn’t involve toys I imagine.

Christina: There is one area, where I … We had two balconies, and I remember a lot playing on the balcony, where she was of course as well. But she wouldn’t be part of – shall we say, we build a hut on the tree, and then she would sit in the hut? I don’t think so. I can’t remember. I would take her out in a little – what are they called? – pushchair. So she could come out when there was maybe a family walk or something and she would be in a pushchair.

Andrea: So when you were a child, were there any toys – could be dolls, could be bears, could be construction toys, could be something else – was there anything that you really wanted but didn’t get?

[long pause]

Christina: No, not a toy, I don’t think so

22.16 – Andrea: Is there anything else about dolls, bears or construction toys that want to say that you haven’t said?

Christina: Just a very general comment, I would like to make. Because I’m now living in this country, and have been here for 15 years, that that whole area round giving her up and putting her back, and then having to squeeze her back in, into life, and live with the embarrassment of having a doll still around. Because when I moved to this country and I walked into other people’s homes there was this big relief to see in people’s houses dolls, soft toys, all sorts of toys, and people really happy to talk about them. So they seemed to move here with people into adulthood. And still around and people, as I said, are very happy to . . . I mean, I’ve heard so many stories from adults about soft toys and what they did with them, etcetera. Now you would never ever have that in Switzerland. [Laughs]. No, it would be a joke.

23.36 – Andrea: That’s interesting. Any idea why not?

Christina: I mean, firstly, I mean, it’s a whole cultural thing, obviously. Zurich is a very Protestant place altogether. Very, very Protestant. So very far away from any fairy tale. I think it’s just, it’s looked at a little bit sort of childish, and . . . It might go together, if you look at the literature for children, it’s very different in Switzerland or Germany than it is here. I find literature for children in this country wonderful, you know. You couldn’t think of Harry Potter being written in German could you? It’s just, there’s something not quite the same really. So the whole world of having characters, and the characters come alive and they do all sorts of things real people can’t do but there are lots of other beings around that can do things. And sort of the whole idea that there are lots of creatures around doesn’t exist so much, you know? It’s different. I mean literature for children I find very educational, again, very serious and sort of well intentioned. Sorry, maybe I make a bit of a caricature around this. But you will never, I promise you, you will not find a bear or a doll in a person’s house who looks, who thinks he is an educated sort of person. Just, yeah.

Andrea: Okay. In that case, if you haven’t got anything else to say, I’m saying to say thank you very much. And I’m going to turn it off.

INTERVIEW ENDS – 25m 35s

Christina

Christina was born in Zurich in 1953, and as a child was given one of the original Sasha Morgenthaler dolls. Her interview focuses mainly on her experience of living with this doll, and her feelings about her. In the short version (06m 04s) of her interview she discusses her Sasha doll, while in the full version (25m 26s) she also reflects on the effect of national identity on how toys are viewed, and the role of gender in toy choice.