Sunday, 24 September 2017

USA 2017 - Laura visits Fort Stanwix and travels to Boston

After sadly leaving Dorisanne, her husband and wonderful collection of Sasha dolls, Laura and her family drove north east through the beautiful open countryside to Rome, near Utica in New York State.  They found a motel just across the road from the historic reconstructed Fort Stanwix and the next morning were up bright and early for breakfast in the diner next door before crossing the road to the Fort museum and the fort itself.

The museum had a lot of interesting exhibits about the history of the fort however there wasn't much time to take it all in because of a long car journey ahead, so Laura soon ventured outside again to visit the reconstructed fort.  The original had been besieged by the British during the American War of Independence in 1777, successfully defended by the colonists but destroyed by fire in 1781.  It had been built by the British to guard the portage called the Oneida Carrying Place during the French and Indian War in 1758.  The reconstruction is on the same site, with the same construction methods and materials, it is a wooden palisade fort and is a national monument.


This sign told about the family life at the fort much of which surrounded the fort except when it was under siege.

Approaching the fort, which was hidden behind the tall plants

The simple but impressive sign for Fort Stanwix National Monument

Approaching the bridge to the fort

The sign showing four pointed star shape of the fort

Many of the families of soldiers lived in tents around the outside of the fort

The rollers for the drawbridge just inside the entrance

Sign about the artisan quarters where the specialists (carpenters and blacksmiths) lived and worked as they made useful things to support life at the fort (less skilled maintenance work was carried out by soldiers)

The artisan quarters in one of the corners of the fort were very dim and dark, lit by lanterns

On top of the artisans quarters were cannons and the flagpole

The flagpole was very tall, Laura felt quite small beside it

Laura with the flagpole

Laura could see one of the colonial soldiers crossing the bridge as he walked out of the fort - he was there to welcome the modern day visitors to Fort Stanwix


During the 1970s various excavations were carried out at the fort site

This was the remains of an original brick fireplace in Fort Stanwix, Laura could guess it was where the soldiers cooked their meals

This was laid out as the orderly room, the fort headquarters

This room was furnished as the Commandant's quarters which had originally been in another building (not reconstructed). Laura thought that Colonel Peter Gansevoort lived in much nicer conditions than the ordinary soldiers

Outside in the bright sunshine Laura met the colonial soldier.  He was very friendly and explained a bit about what life was like at the fort.

This was officers' quarters, another rather nice room in the fort

This was lodging for visiting officers

Families of officers usually lived outside the fort as camp followers, however General Moody had his wife and daughter living in the fort from 1780-1781

Laura liked the child's toys carefully stored on the shelf in the Family quarters

In the family quarters were these buckets and a shoulder yoke for carrying the water from the well

Looking at the family quarters with the personal touches such as the wooden clogs and the baby cradle

The cradle was placed near the fireplace, where it would have been warm.  The stool was made from a single log of wood and would have been used to sit at the fire when cooking food.

Quill pens and ink at the writing desk

Looking at the Junior Officers' quarters

Laura liked the shelves above the fireplace, where all sorts of useful items to be stored easily within reach when needed

Weapons and tools in the Junior Officers' quarters

The Junior officers would have gathered around this table every day

One of the most interesting rooms was that of the Suttler (civilian trader) - the shop/trading post in the fort was where the soldiers to barter for the goods he supplied.

The Suttler's room was where furs and other essentials of every day life were traded in the fort.  Furs were valuable currency.

Laura was fascinated by the items on the shelves behind the counter in the trading post

Laura thought the apples looked tasty - many of the other items the Suttler traded were less familiar to her.

The fort was constructed from large trees cut to shape with saws and axes with all the pieces jointed together carefully

The soldiers lived in humble conditions

Soldiers slept together on raised bunks on straw with sacks stuffed with straw for pillows

Laura discovered that soldiers who were waiting for trial and punishment for some crime were kept away from their fellow soldiers in a guard house - their confinement was not the punishment, which was usually public, humiliating and painful

The papers for a Court Martial in the guard room

In the guard room was this fascinating model of the fort

Laura liked another model of the fort showing its construction

Laura had enjoyed her visit to Fort Stanwix National Monument and wished she could have spent longer in the museum where the friendly curator had been so helpful.  This national monument and its museum was entirely free to enter and was so interesting.
And so the long car journey continued, this time travelling East.  The countryside gradually changed as the road roughly followed the route of the Erie Canal, Laura realised later that she had more or less travelled the length of the canal on this trip, as she crossed the Hudson River where the canal begins.

The countryside became more wooded as Laura and her family travelled further East.  Soon they said goodbye to New York State and entered Massachusetts, one of the New England states. The weather was changing too as the clouds rolled in and some drops of rain landed on the windscreen.  It was still warm though cooler than at the fort.

Welcome to Massachusetts
Despite the heavy rain as Laura arrived at her friends house in Wayland, Massachusetts, she decided that her new surroundings were very beautiful.  There were wild turkeys wandering around the tree lined garden, three gorgeous cats (including a majestic Maine Coon) and a rather delicious dinner including corn on the cob with butter!

Dinner in New England
Laura was looking forward to her next, long awaited outing involving literary and US history.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

USA 2017 - Laura visits Dorisanne Osborn

It was a very special Tuesday on the 1 August, eagerly awaited. Hotel breakfast was over, the car was loaded with the Sasha family and the family started travelling South from Rochester, New York towards the scenic finger lakes. Laura was going to meet a very important person in the Sasha world and her collection.

Just before 11am we arrived at a house beside Keuka Lake and Dorisanne was at the door to meet us.  We had been corresponding for several years so this was another 'dream come true' for me to finally meet her, especially as she unfortunately had to cancel her place at the 2017 Sasha Festival because she wasn't quite well enough to travel all the way to Washington DC for the festival fun.

As we entered Dorisanne's house we were greeted by the glorious sight of her studio dolls sitting in a row on the sofa and it wasn't long before we were deep in conversation as Dorisanne showed them to us and explained a bit about each of them. Some of them featured in her book 'Sasha dolls through the years' published in 1999.


Dorisanne showing us the gorgeous Lucinda Jane

Dorisanne with Lucinda Jane (Lucy), named after her childhood doll.  Lucy has the rarest face shape, IV.

Lucinda Jane, body shape C, face shape IV, made of gypsum - showing the smocking detail on her yellow dress under the pinafore

Lucinda Jane, body shape C, face shape IV, gypsum

Dorisanne had been fortunate enough to spend time in Sasha's original studio making a course doll in November 1993 with 5 other Sasha collectors under the tutelage of Trudi Loeffler, Sasha's assistant, to mark 100 years since Sasha's birth. She told us all about that wonderful week as we sat and examined the doll she had made.

My girl holding Dorisanne's Course Doll which she had made herself in Sasha's studio.  This lovely doll has a very nicely painted face and is beautifully made.

Dorisanne's Course doll with our toddlers (my new Iona and young Edmund)

The tour of Sasha Studio dolls continued as we met several more treasures.

D Bebe kit doll with head painted by Sasha Morgenthaler - it came with pattern, fabric and stuffing (pages 19 and 20 of Dorisanne's book).

Both my girl and I were captivated by Suzanne (actually Caroline), a dark haired girl with a pensive expression.

The gorgeous Suzanne (Caroline), body type B, face type III, cloth body.  She was minty when Dorisanne first met her in Zurich and I agree with Dorisanne that she has the most beautiful face.
The next girl, Alice, was wearing a sweater by Diane Duke and a plaid skirt.  Dorisanne also has Alice's original clothes and is building a wardrobe of clothes for her.

Dorisanne with Alice, body type C, face shape I, minty and very lovely.

A Sasha studio toddler!  This little girl, made of gypsum, was very pretty.

Dorisanne holding her red haired toddler in blue gingham, this toddler is made from gypsum.

The Sasha Studio bebe with a cream coat was discussed next. This baby has a cloth body.

My girl holding a Sasha Bebe (D Bebe) in a lovely cream coloured coat.  This baby is on pages 19 and 21 of Dorisanne's book.
Sasha the artist was even able to make a plastic doll look wonderful, her Studio sailor boy is truly special and Dorisanne has named him for her grandson.

Dorisanne showing us the wonderful Christopher Charles

Christopher Charles is a wonderful sailor boy - named for Dorisanne's grandson.  He has a type C body and type III face shape and was made in 1968, he is made of synthetic plastic.  He features on pages 12 and 25 of her book.

Close up of Christopher's face with his wonderful eye painting
Not only did Sasha devise four main face shapes for her dolls, she also occasionally made portrait dolls.  A portrait doll is the likeness of a real named child.

Dorisanne with Liesel, a very early studio doll.  Liesel has a mohair wig and is a portrait doll of a real child.  She has a cloth body which is off white rather than the skin tone fabrics Sasha used for later dolls.

Liesel's legs and her grey felt shoes with knitted socks.  Her dress is beautifully embroidered blue gingham.

When she picked up Emmalee Rose from the sofa Dorisanne explained that this was her favourite (though how could anyone choose a favourite as they were all wonderful).  She is slowly building a wardrobe of clothes for this lovely hard plastic girl.

Dorisanne holding Emmalee Rose, who came from the doll studio at Marshall Field's store in Chicago from the original owner. Made in 1963 of hard plastic, Emmalee has a C type body and type I face shape. She is a 'Modern Colored Girl' and has Sasha's signature on her left foot.  She appears on pages 70 and 106 of 'Sasha Dolls: The history' by Anne Votaw, Ann Chandler and Susanne Lewis.

Close up of the faces of Liesel and Emmalee Rose

We were enthralled as Dorisanne also told us all about the first week long Sasha Festival, held at Keuka College and in her home in 1991.  People came for as long as they could - some came for the whole week, some came for a couple of days only.  This allowed plenty more time for people to spend together and with the dolls than could normally be managed in 1.5 or 2 days as the festivals had been until then.  The first Children's Fund Auction was held at that festival (though it was done as a silent auction), there were also Dress a Sasha, craft workshops (smocking, woodwork, children's crafts), exhibitions including a fashion show and many Sasha dolls on display, an excursion to Rochester NY to see the doll and toy collections in the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, the building of the Marcy Street doll house and a talk by Brenda Walton. This longest of the Sasha festivals resulted in all the subsequent festivals becoming at least 3 days long.  You can read more about it in Dorisanne's profile on Theresa's blog.

Dorisanne also showed us some of the pictures of Sasha dolls on the walls around her house as well as her "Sasha Condo" which she assembled from glass shelves and wooden brackets she found in the basement of the house when they moved in.  It held lots of Sasha sized furniture and accessories plus many redressed Sasha serie dolls in room settings.  One of them was wearing the 2017 Sasha Festival outfit which I had also received (the other colourway) as Dorisanne had only cancelled one of her two registrations so she would still get the souvenir outfits.  I didn't take any photos of the "Condo" or the dolls in it.

We enjoyed tea and biscuits with Dorisanne and her husband who had a good time chatting with my husband about the band organs we had seen at Olcott Beach.  We did our own mini gift exchange - I gave Dorisanne a push-along duck kit and some felt holiday glove puppets for Sasha.  Dorisanne gave us three pairs of shoes for Sasha (including sport shoes for Edmund) and her husband presented us with a Keuka College pennant which is now proudly displayed above our Sasha doll display shelf at home.

Laura, Edmund and Iona (not her new name) took their place on the sofa with Dorisanne's wonderful collection for some photos.

L-R: Iona, Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

L-R: Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

L-R: Laura, Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe

L-R: Laura, Course doll, kit D Bebe, Lucy, Iona,  Suzanne, Alice, gypsum toddler, D Bebe, Christopher John, Edmund, Liesel, Emmalee Rose

Laura was pleased to meet Dorisanne and the smiles in these photos testify to the wonderful visit we had with Dorisanne and her husband. 

Laura the travelling Sasha with Dorisanne

Indoors: DollMum with Iona, Dorisanne with Laura and DollMum's daughter with Edmund

Outdoors: DollMum with Iona, Dorisanne with Laura and DollMum's daughter with Edmund
It was sad to say goodbye - we all had such a good time. We drove along the lake road between Keuka College and the lake to see the venue of the 1991 Sasha doll festival.

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka lake from the lake road on campus

Keuka College, the site of the 1991 Sasha Doll week long festival

Norton Chapel, Keuka College
And so Laura embarked on the next stage of her USA road trip as she left Dorisanne and the home of the 1991 festival behind.  The drive north to Rome, near Utica was very pleasant, the weather remained sunny and the countryside scenic, with many farms and their barns. Laura had some American history to investigate on the next phase of her road trip.