Everybody has a story: Doll’s long-ago demise still a sore subject for sisters

Girl’s prized Barbie perishes on family trip

By

Published:

 

I grew up in Vancouver with six brothers and three sisters. When I was in the fourth grade, my parents decided to take us to Chicago in our station wagon to visit relatives on my mother’s side.

I have remained silent for many years about The Doll Incident involving my sisters and me. I feel it is time to break my silence and tell what really happened that day.

We were about halfway to Chicago and in the middle of the dry, hot desert. It was a clear, unforgiving, sultry day. It was extremely crowded in our station wagon as my two younger sisters, Nancy and Mary, and I sat almost on top of each other. We were in the very back seat of our car, which faced the three of us toward the back window. Dad rolled the back window down to give us some relief from the burning heat.

Tragedy hits

Nancy and Mary began arguing over The Doll. She was a Barbie with long, straight blonde hair, and she was my littlest sister Mary’s very favorite doll. During the argument, The Doll acquired facial injuries that were inflicted by Nancy. I believe the long hours traveling and battling the brutal heat drove her to it.

The Doll became delirious with injury and heatstroke, and somehow found her way back to Mary. At this point, I think The Doll was in shock and had lost touch with reality. Mary had The Doll dancing merrily along the edge of the open window.

Somehow The Doll lost her footing. I flew forward to try to save her, but was unable to grab a limb and pull her back to safety. Yes, The Doll fell to her death at about 50 or 60 mph. She must have bounced a half a dozen times on the boiling pavement before she came to a stop.

Dad did not stop the car to go look for her. He knew she was gone and saved us from having to experience such a horrifying sight.

I have lived through the years asking myself, could I have done something to prevent The Doll’s tragic death? This I must continue to deal with for the rest of my life. Of course, my sisters have their own take on this story. The Doll incident remains a topic of discussion to this day in our family. Mary still hasn’t gotten over it.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes nonfiction contributions, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. E-mail is the best way to send materials so we don’t have to retype your words or borrow original photos. Send to: neighbors@columbian.com or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA 98666. Call Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.