Molly Comes to Live With the Rickmans
Three years ago, when my granddaughter Emaline turned 7, her heart’s desire was an American Girl doll. Doting gramma that I am, I went with Emy and her mother to the AG store in Denver where Emy picked out “her” doll, Mary Ellen.
No, I’m not abandoning my quest to tell the story of the WAFS and WASP of World War II, as you’ll discover. Just keep reading, please.
I raised two sons—Emy’s father Jim and her Uncle Charlie. I knew nothing about American Girl dolls until my good friend Judy Dubuc — who also raised two sons — told me about Molly, the 1944 American Girl doll who represented the World War II era.
Emy and Molly, September 2021
In Molly, My Friend Judy Saw Herself Circa 1944
“She looks just like I did back then,” Judy told me when she introduced me to Molly. “I had long brown braids just like hers,” she said.
Both Judy and I were in grade school during WWII. And, no, American Girl dolls weren’t around then. I was more interested in horses than dolls, but I did have a beautiful figure-skating doll — similar to the AG dolls of the future, but not as big. She came complete with tiny ice skates. She was inspired by Sonja Henie, the athletic and beautiful Norwegian Olympic figure-skating champion and later movie star. I loved that doll! She had meaning.
Molly came with a book about what she and her family did during WWII. Molly’s father has gone off to the war. He’s fighting somewhere over in France. Judy tells me that her father, too, was in service during WWII, and he was sent overseas.
Molly’s Aunt, a WASP, Flew for the Ferry Command
Turns out Molly’s aunt also is in the service. She’s a WASP [Women Airforce Service Pilots]. She ferried aircraft for the Army Air Forces. In keeping with the story, AG created a WASP outfit for Molly, complete with khaki pants, an Eisenhower battle jacket, and a leather flight helmet like the one the WASP wore when they flew the open cockpit Primary trainers.
Years later, as an adult, Judy found in Molly a reminder of her young self. Since she had no daughters, she bought the doll for herself.
Knowing my interest in the WASP, Judy dressed Molly up in her flying togs for me to see. Good timing! My older granddaughter, Katie, was soon to turn 7. Now I knew what to get for her birthday. Immediately, I ordered Molly, PLUS the WASP outfit — which was extra.
Gramma Took Molly to Women In Aviation, International
To let you in on a secret, before I gave Molly to Katie, I took Molly to the Women in Aviation Conference where I was selling my latest WASP books. I stood Molly up on the table beside the books. Of course, she was dressed in her full WASP regalia. She was the hit of the conference. I sold all my books!!!
Fast forward 12 years. Katie is now 18. I’ve given Emy the AG book about Molly and her WASP aunt. PLUS, she’s been learning more about the WASP in real time. I took her to the Women in Aviation, International conference in 2019. There, she met two real live WASP.
Last spring, Emy spotted a picture of Molly dressed in her WASP outfit. Now she wants Molly, too — to be a sister to Mary Ellen. Sadly, I have to tell her that AG no longer makes the Molly doll. But, Emy’s 12-year-old brother, Daniel, overhears our conversation. Using his burgeoning computer skills, he goes online and makes a discovery.
“Gramma, They’ve Reissued Molly!”
“Gramma,” he says when he gets me alone. “They’ve reissued Molly.” Wide-eyed, I watch as he calls up the American Girl website on the screen.
There she is! As a 2021 anniversary reissue, for a limited time, AG is bringing back some of its favorite dolls from the past!!! No, the WASP outfit is not part of the reissue, but there’s darling Molly dressed in her 1944 school outfit.
Immediately, I place the order and a few days later, the shipping box with Molly arrives. I hid it in the closet so Emy wouldn’t see it, because she would immediately recognize the box.
And she did!!! —when we presented it to her on her birthday. “I know what it is,” she said, gleefully. “An American Girl doll.”
But She Didn’t Know It Was Molly!
She didn’t know it was Molly until she opened the box!!! Her excitement and the look on her face was a reward for us all.
An added perk, last summer Katie — now a college freshman — and her mom managed to unearth Molly’s WASP outfit that was long ago packed away in the attic. Now we had a WASP outfit for Emy’s Molly. It has a little age on it. After all, it was well used by 7-year-old Katie. Nevertheless, there was the battle jacket, the khaki pants and the flight helmet!
Emy’s got it all!