Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Introducing my Skookum


She's mine all mine. I've had her for over half a century. My dad used to be a "junk man" in the 1950s. He'd sell scrap metal and haul items for his regular customers. One of them gave him this doll for me. I may have been five or six. She used to have leather boots on but I remember peeling them off.
 
When I was eight, an out of town aunt came to visit and fell in love with her. She begged me for her. This doll hung on her wall for probably twenty years. Theres a nail hole in the back of the blanket.  I was visiting her one day in her town and she gave it back to me. I have had my Indian doll tucked away for years. She has a cellulose face, and she wears a dress under the blanket. I did some research and discovered the historical significance of the Skookum "Bully Good" dolls.
 
 
 
They were manufactured from 1914 to 1962 and were designed by Mary McAboy of Montana, modeled after the Chinook Indians’ dolls. Skookum means excellent and it is derived from the Chinook or Siwash language. The original Skookum dolls were made of dried apple heads and were on stick figures. These were used by a medicine man during a healing ritual.
 
Mary took the inspiration for these dolls and created her dolls with Native American features. She then received a patent for the name Skookum in 1919. Later on the doll heads were replaced with composition or plastic ones in the 1940’s. The hair for the dolls was made of horsehair and sometimes human hair. They do not have arms and their legs are wooden sticks.
The dolls’ costumes depict the native outfit of the Indian tribes. They come in its customary Indian blankets worn above pants and skirts. The earliest batch of dolls wore leather moccasins which were later replaced with felt or strong paper material. The Skookum dolls measured 2 inches to as tall as 36 inches. Established in the 1920, the Arrow Novelty Co. of New York was popularly known for its production of these Skookum Indian tourist dolls. A mark that signifies that the dolls were made by Arrow Novelty is an oval paper tag with the markings: “Trademark Registered – Patented, Skookum (Bully Good) Indian U.S.A. Aside from these Skookum dolls, Arrow Novelty was also known for its cloth, hard plastic, composition, and vinyl dolls. They manufactured and distributed the Skookum in the east coast.
True Skookums eyes are looking to the right. Right on! I've never had her appraised. She is priceless to me, as she represents my ancestry. My dad claimed (no proof) that he was Native American, and he looked like it. My childhood memories are imbedded in this doll.

 

12 comments:

SUSAN SAYS said...

Very cool, Linda. I have some relatives in Northern Minnesota who are Chippewa. How fascinating to know the history of your type of doll. A real treasure!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Linda,

I love dolls and the history surrounding them. If you see a doll show advertised in your area, check to see if they'll have an appraiser there. Even if you don't want to sell, it's fun to know how much it's worth.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan said...

How wonderful you still have that precious dolly, a remembrance of your childhood. You can pass her down to one of your grandchildren. Susan

Joanne Noragon said...

Such a treasure. Keep her safe.

Daisy said...

She holds a lot of memories for you. What a treasure! Interesting history too.

thisisme said...

Hi Linda. I love your little Skookum and how wonderful that you have had her for all those years, even though she was borrowed for a while! I found this post very interesting to see just how the Skookums originated. I'm sure you will continue to love her and take good care of her.

Bookie said...

Lovely story, how things can be a part of our lives for so long. There is no price for what some things mean to us. I have a black rag doll with knotted kerchief head, filled with sawdust like substance that my Granny brought to me from New Orleans when I was six...worthless, priceless!

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

How lucky you are to have her and all the precious memories associated with her. The nearest thing I have to that is my teddy bear, Teddy (I was such a creative child), who arrived under the Christmas tree when I was 9. He isn't worth a penny, but to me he's priceless.

Sioux said...

Maybe someday I will see you on an episode of Antiques Roadshow?

Debora said...

I had some dolls like that, but I foolishly gave them away in my teens. I so wish I still had them. They are so charming. We have the Skookumchuck River here in Washington State, and Skookum is a pretty common term in my family, as my step grandpa was a Nooksack Indian (of Salish ancestry.) Another meaning for Skookum is 'strong'. And 'chuck' is water. So Skookumchuck is strong water. My mother used to joke about dad making skookum coffee! In any context, I love that word. It's just so...skookum!

Carol OurSearsKitHome said...

What a treasure...especially with her history!

K9friend said...

What a neat story! I can remember having an Indian doll many years ago...sort of a Pocahontas-type in suede dress and boots. She looked somewhat similar to this, but I have no idea what happened to her!

Pat
Critter Alley