the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson


interview: babette and bruce jackson

Kleenex Dolls
& Dainty Ladies

Pamela: So what do you remember about the doll games?

Babette: Well, it would depend on how you define the doll games.

Okay, expand on that.

Ba: One of the first memories I have of your doll games is driving across the country when you were 2 1/2 and Shelley was four and the two of you were making Kleenex dolls and playing Kleenex doll games in the back seat. But I don't remember anything about the games. I just remember the dolls.

Was that before we had Kiddles?

Ba: No, you got Kiddles when we were in Washington, and that was before we drove across the country. And you played games–just endless games.

But you don't remember what they were?

Ba: No. At that point there was just a lot of adventure. I have a better memory of the games you played when you were sitting around together drawing pictures and telling stories from the pictures. Those were a version of doll games. It was the same sort of thing, someone would jump and run and and scoot around and do this that and the other thing...

But it was with drawings and talking, we didn't act them out?

Ba: Yeah. But it was the same type of thing as the doll games. I remember thinking that what you were doing– except that was later, as you got older –was testing out all of these different roles and different ways of being by using the dolls. And there were a lot of kings and queens and princesses and things like that.

Was this with the Kiddles?

Ba: I think that was when you went on to the bigger dolls.

So when did we get the Skipper dolls?

Ba: That must been after we'd gone to Yugoslavia and come back.

So that was still quite early.

Ba: I think so, because the doll games sort of took a turn when we came here. Or maybe I took a turn in the way I was listening to them. Because that's when I began to be aware that you were testing out these fundamental roles.

Do you remember what the roles were, or what scenarios they were being tested in?

Ba: They were very traditional roles that were being tested. What it meant to be female, most importantly. Relationships between males and females– that would have been influenced by the women's movement. By the kinds of conversations we were having here. And we had managed to get you some fairy tales like The Practical Princess, where the princesses were not traditional princesses.

Do you remember when we started adding all the other dolls? Big Josh and the Flatsies and Harvey...

Ba: Oh, I remember Big Josh. You were already much older, so you were much more conscious of what you were doing. You closed yourselves off into the back room and I wasn't invited to listen to your conversations.

Bruce: [entering] I felt even less invited. I was a man so I wouldn't understand.