Monday, March 30, 2009

All About Barbie, But What About G.I. Joe?

by Jo Robertson

I wanted to write a post celebrating Barbie’s fiftieth anniversary on March 9. But then I thought about the “dolls” that boys play with when they’re younger. We don’t call them “dolls,” but that’s certainly what they are.

So, Barbie and G.I. Joe.

A few years ago Dr. Big and I visited Scotland on a golfing vacation. He wanted to play the original courses of the birthplace of golf – St. Andrew, Carnoustie, and Turnberry. I wanted to tour the castles.

Among our group were two young couples, the men insanely we
althy and quite worldly, the women blonde and vacuous. I privately dubbed the women Barbie I and Barbie II and told Dr. Big they’d be killed off by the third tee in my upcoming mystery. Their conversation spun around fake boobs, manicures, and hair extensions.

Surprisingly we became friends and by the end of the trip, I confessed to them that I’d given them the names of Barbie I and Barbie II. They were immensely flattered and I saw beyond the surface of their glitz and superficiality to the warm, if somewhat self-absorbed, women beneath.

Barbie is an icon so entrenched that the story above gives you a perfect picture of these two women by simply naming them.

So to celebrate Barbie’s anniversary I thought we’d play Barbie Trivia. See how many of the questions you can get right about Barbie before you look at the pictures below or scroll down for the answers. By the way, the Barbies to the left went for $17,000 at auction. Wow! Got any mint Barbies lying around?

1. What was the first Barbie wearing?

2. Who was Barbie’s younger sister who made her debut in 1961?

3. What was the first source of controversy about Barbie? What were Barbie’s original dimensions if translated on a 1/6 scale?

4. What was the cost of the original Barbie?
5. The last question is about G.I. Joe. What does the G.I. stand for?

Here's some Barbie history:

Barbie was born in March 1959 and has wormed her way into the hearts of young girls for fifty years. I was too old for dolls when Barbie was born, so my connection with her came through my three daughters. And did they ever love Barbie!
Yes, the first edition Barbies to the right were dressed in the black and white zebra-striped bathing suits.

Having seven children, our family couldn’t afford all the glitz and glamour that came with Barbie – her townhouse, her horse, her spa. Just the basics. So my girls made their own dollh
ouse out of a discarded appliance box and fashioned their own clothing line from scraps of fabric left in my sewing basket.

Small wonder that they also sewed their own Barbie outfits for each other to commemorate milestones in their own lives. Barbie Graduate when my oldest graduated from college, Barbie Married when my second walked down the aisle, Barbie Business when my youngest got a huge promotion at work.

The Angela Merkel Barbie to the left was the first female diplomat to be made into a Barbie.

The controversy question is a tricky one. Initially mothers were concerned about the realistic portrayal of Barbie's bustline -- a doll with breasts -- my goodness! -- but the real controversy centered around her waistline. Her waist was widened in 2000 to reflect a woman's natural figure and a belly button added. On a 1/6 scale Barbie's original dimension would've been 36-18-33; she would've been about 5'9" tall and her weight on her trademark pink scale was 110 pounds! Many wome felt that this unrealistic ideal woman would affect girls negatively.

Barbie was the brain child of Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, who’d watched her own daughter play with dolls and saw that she enjoyed pretending with dolls that were more like women than babies. Handler had a hard time selling the idea of a full-figured doll to the company, but eventually prevailed.
Barbie's little sister was Skipper and the first Barbie doll cost a whopping $3!

Barbie had the grown-up doll field until Hasbro produced the G.I. Joe action figure in 1964. Joe was a 12-inch “doll” much like Barbie but designed for boys.

Does anyone remember those early action figures, which included Batman, Superman, and other heroes? My sons had several of them, and their favorite was Joker. It wasn’t until the 80’s that the 3 ¾ inch hard action dolls became popular on the heels of the Star Wars movies.
The G.I. initials stand for "galvanized iron" instead of the "government issue" that many believe. On their inventories the military referred to many of the supplies made of galvanized iron, such as trash cans, as GI.

I always wondered why G.I. Joe and Barbie didn’t hook up. Seems a natural development to me.

What’s your experience with Barbie dolls or action figures? Did you play war with your action figures or house with your Barbies? Do you think Barbies are as popular now as they were initially?


Virginia said...


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Virginia, well done on the bird! You've been so close so often, I'm really glad you caught him. I treated him really nicely yesterday so he should be lovely and calm during his visit!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, what a great post! And did you bring back memories!

I played with Barbies for years and years. I used to tell long historical sagas with romantic plots starring long-haired Barbie as the heroine and short-haired Barbie as the boy (hmm, forget about how well endowed she was!). I actually think it was me practicing for what I'd do for a living, seriously! Great for the growth of my imagination. We couldn't afford all the gewgaws either - and they weren't so prevalent in the 60s and early 70s as they are now. So I had to improvise on a lot of stuff which I also think was great for my imagination.

Long live Barbie!

Virginia said...

Great post! I was a Barbie girl and I still have my Barbie dolls although they are in bad shape because I played with them a lot, hey we didn't get many toys and she was special. I think she was one of the 1960 doll with the blond ponytail and black and white swimsuit. I also have Ken which had the blond fuzzy hair which is all rubbed off now, I think he was 1961. I got Skipper in 1963 and also have the red-headed Midge doll with the flipped up hair. I am not sure when I got her.

I didn't have the Barbie house but my friend did and we made Barbie Beds out of Sanitary napkins we found in the bathroom, we didn't know what they were and my friend mother about had a cow when she caught us with them, but they did make perfect little doll beds. Yes I spent a lot of days playing with these dolls, I am not sure why I have kept them all of these years, they are just stored away. I used to dress them up in old fashion dresses that a little old lady made for me, they had pantylooms and everything. This lady was about 75 or 80 when she made these dresses. She didn't make boy cloths though so Ken is still in a bath robe and that all. Oh My!

Treethyme said...

I was a kid when Barbie came out, but I wasn't real big on dolls. I had a Bubble Cut Barbie, but never got the outfit I loved -- the one with the black sequin dress and, I think, a fake microphone. I was hooked by glitter even then -- who knew?

My two younger sisters invariably undressed my Barbie(s), scratched or indented their boobs, and lost their heads. To this day, all that survived of our many Barbies is one corpseless blonde head.

I had more fun with my set of Barbie 45 rpm records than with the dolls. I also had an orange crate instead of a Barbie Dream House, and had a ball furnishing it with made-in-China plastic miniatures from Ben Franklin.

I don't recall if my brothers ever played with GI Joe, although I'm sure we had a couple around the house.

My own daughter preferred Jem and the Holograms to Barbie, and my son had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurines. Oh, and one oversized, talking Terminator. (Pretty hot, actually...)

I found an interesting link here:

There's a funny video clip but I can't find it. I'll post it tomorrow.

By the way, I'm friends with a couple named, you guessed it, Barb and Ken. (Call her Barbie at your own risk!)

limecello said...

I had some Barbie dolls - but they're all gone now... my dad up and donated them when I was at school. It was a little sad but I wasn't crushed.
I do think Barbie is longstanding though -and while some of the newer ones are a bit off (or even the older ones) - I like her overall. Other than you know, the generations of body image issues created.

Congratulations on the GR, Virginia! And YAY I'M HOME! :P And NW airlines broke my suitcase >.< And I got searched at the airport. Haha. The joys of traveling.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Virginia.

I only had one Barbie and no accessories. I always wished I had the Dream House or Ken. I used to play with my brother's G.I. Joe collection. Barbie hooking up with a G.I. Joe would have been perfect. Barbie and Duke would have made a great looking couple.

Tawny said...

Oh man, I loved Barbie. Every penny of my allowance went to clothes and shoes for my dolls. My most treasured birthday gift was one of those cute pink Barbie storage boxes filled with doll clothes my gramma made me.

My biggest disappointment was that neither of my girls were into Barbie. One tied her up to the legs of the coffee table and left her there, the other kicked her out of her house to make way for the toy animals.


Virginia- way to go with the rooster :-) Have a fun day together!!!

Minna said...

Helen said...

Congrats Virginia enjoy your day with him

Great post Jo I had some Barbie Dolls but only one real Barbie doll my Mum bought us the copies but I loved to make clothes for them with scrapes of material I had a Cindy doll but with 3 sisters we had a few all up and would play together with them but sadly no GI Joes with no brothers .

My daughters on the other hand had some and they got the barbie house and campervan and horse and all the things that go with them and loved to play with them although Bec preferred She Ra and my son loved He Man so they had those castles as well.

Brings back memories.

Have Fun

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I never had a Barbie but my daughter did, she didn't seem to be a Barbie kind of girl though so it was sold when she was about 10. My granddaughter seems to have missed that gene too. She is more into the Hanna Montana mode.

adf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Sey said...

Good morning, Jo! Has Barbie really been around 50 years? Wow.

I have to admit, my Barbie trivia is shaky at best. I recall having a Barbie camper I adored--that thing was ENORMOUS--but most of my Barbie memories come from their naked, dismembered selves hanging from what was left of their hair (after an enthusiastic round of Barber Shop) while my younger sister & I played haunted house. We needed some dead bodies, the Barbie were handy, & already looked like they'd been scalped, so...

We also used her for our Let's Build a Parachute games. Tossed her off the barn roof wearing nothing by one of our dad's hankies.

Good times.

Sorry, Barbie. :-)

Joan said...

I liked my Barbie. Yes, I said that in the singular. It never occured to us to buy multiples....One Barbie was fine thank you. But she did have Skipper her little sister and Ken who wanted to be a GI Joe but was rated 4F for REALLY flat feet.

My Mom made me losts of Barbie clothes...pretty garden frocks, shorts and tops and a navy blue silk peignoir...very classy.

She also..predictably...had a nurse's uniform. (But she liked the silk better, LOL)

Skipper. Now SKIPPER had all store bought clothes. Her favorite outfit was a green wool jumper with a yellow turtleneck, matching coat and one of those caps that were popular in the '60's (like a London bobby?) and black and white checked hose.

She was stylin...

And alas, the only accruements I had for my gals were Barbie luggage and a Barbie Corning Ware set. No houses, boats, trains, airplanes...

jo robertson said...

Hi, everyone! I'm so sorry I'm late. I hadn't actually finished my post last night when I was stricken with the ugly Pharoah's Revenge and took to my bed. So many of you read the unedited version. Sorry!

Virginia, congratulations on getting the rooster. "Mine" says it all, doesn't it? Glad you finally got him.

jo robertson said...

Anna, how delightful! I never thought of writers "practicing" their stories on Barbies. Didn't you have a Ken doll to play your hero? What fun! See, all that playtime was training for your REAL profession!

jo robertson said...

Virginia, I know there are Barbie collectors looking for the mint-condition Barbie, but if you can't play with them and love them, what good are they? All of our Barbies are well worn. My granddaughters love to play with them, and I must confess that I play with the also. I think I feel deprived never having had Barbie when I was a girl.

jo robertson said...

Virginia, that's hilarious, but so practical when you think about it. Those sanitary napkins would've made wonderful duvets!

Treethyme said...

Damn, what was the story I read, just recently, where the excessively shy heroine practiced a business presentation on a Ken doll? It was hilarious!

I just remembered, it was Diana Holquist's The Sexiest Man Alive.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Treethyme, I could NOT resist calling your friends Barbie and Ken! Do you ever slip accidentally LOL?

Alas, we have many headless Barbies around our house. The boys seem to think it's great fun to make headless corpses of the Barbies. Or else they use the Barbies as swords and play pirates!

Treethyme said...

Forgot to congratulate Virginia (and Anna, yesterday -- or whenever that was) on nabbing the GR.

Whenever anyone posts "Mine" I flash back to the seagulls in Finding Nemo: "MineMineMineMine." Too funny!

jo robertson said...

Limecello, it IS pretty amazing that Barbie's lasted this long. The first year the company sold around 300,000 Barbies which was a pretty big deal. And she's soared since then.

The think I DON'T like about Barbie is her iconic PINK color. I do not like pink! It's so girly!

jo robertson said...

Oh, yeah, Jane -- Duke -- he was hot!

I get very nostalgic thinking about Barbie. I think it's because they were such an important part of my daughters' lives and I never got to play with them as a child.

jo robertson said...

Tawny, why am I not surprised you loved Barbie? LOL. You must've spent your childhood buying shoes for her in prep for your real life's mission -- buying shoes for you!! What fun!

Why do you suppose some girls adore Barbie and other never take to her? I have one granddaughter who never was much interested in dolls of any kind. I kept buying her Barbies and they stayed in the corner of the toy closet. Sigh! Their mothers are completely baffled. Where did they go wrong?

jo robertson said...

Helen, I remember the He-Man dolls too. My boys really liked playing with those.

I was one of those mothers who was determined to break down the sex roles, so I taught my boys to cook and bought them dolls (action figures). Now I wish I'd taught my daughters to cook better. As Shannon says, "I don't like to touch food." Again, where did I go wrong LOL.

jo robertson said...

Dianna, I wonder if by the time your granddaughters came along, the negative stereotype of Barbie was strong. We do tend to use the word disparagingly when we call someone a "Barbie."

jo robertson said...

ROTFLOL, Susan, I can see your younger self totally sacrificing Barbies to the altar to a Halloween Spook Alley. What fun!

Poor Barbie, such defilement!

danie88 said...

I LOVED Barbies! I played with them all the time lol... my sister was more of a tomboy and I was more of a girly girl so when we would play together we'd play hot wheels and barbies :D

I think Barbies are just as popular today as they were when I was little if not more... there are so many more things for Barbies now adays... there are honestly things for Barbies now that I would have loved when I was little lol

jo robertson said...

Joan, I really admire all those moms and granmas who made Barbie clothes. Those are tiny little things, small stitches and seams. And no hot glue gun in those days. My daughters used Elmer's Glue if I remember right or else simple running stitches, no fancy sewing.

Nancy said...

Virginia, congrats on taking the rooster home!

Jo, what a fun post! I had a Barbie who came in that "zebra" suit and had a blonde ponytail (all Barbies were blonde then--it was the age of Miss Clairol "is it true blondes have more fun?" and it certainly seemed to be). I had Ken and Skipper (my Ken had felt hair that fell off in odd patches). Santa brought, eventually, both the Dream House and the airplane. And I remember what a big deal it was when Barbie's knees finally bent!

When bobbed-hair Barbie, with the short page boy, came along, we had one of those. One of our English bulldogs liked to carry Barbie in his mouth, and his fang dented her mammary equipment. So that Barbie wore a bandaid ever after to make her clothes fit right.

I never had GI Joe, only Ken.

And I missed the action figures craze until the boy came along, at which point our house was massively populated with them. Made me sad when he started giving them away.

Nancy said...

Just BTW, I still have Star Trek Barbie and Ken and Batgirl Barbie. *g*

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, Jo! Lovely post, and a big Happy Birthday to Barbie!!

My first barbie doll had the short curly black hair. Didn't get a long haired Barbie until Malibu Barbie made her appearance. And I was always envious of my best friend who had the Barbie doll house. Man I used to dream every Christmas about getting that!

BUT I did live in the best of both worlds. My brother had several G.I. Joes. And when he wasn't looking or busy on the basketball court, I'd have these rescue operations where Joe would save Barbie from the dastardly Ken, (never did like him much, give me a hero any day). Then have a lavish wedding. hehehe

Suzanne Welsh said...

Joan said: And alas, the only accruements I had for my gals were Barbie luggage and a Barbie Corning Ware set. No houses, boats, trains, airplanes...

Me either, Joan, BUT my sister had the Barbie camper. Hmmm...I really should ask my mother why she got that and I didn't?

Amanda said...

Not only couldn't we afford the Dream House (and boat and car and whatever else...), we couldn't afford a Ken doll, either. So, like Anna Campbell said, we cut all the hair off of one of the dolls and dressed her in masculine clothes. My mom used to sew clothes for our Barbies out of our old clothes, and they always seemed very glamorous.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT post, Jo-Mama!

UGH on the Pharoah's Revenge, I'm still battling that one myself. :-(

Yes, I had the original zebra-striped swimsuit Barbie with the ponytail. My mom had to drive all over town to find one with black hair. So they did make them, Nancy! But very very few, most were blondes or redheads. I also had fuzzy haired Ken whose hair rubbed off, and freckle-faced Midge whose freckles did NOT rub off no matter how hard I tried!

My Mom made all the clothes for my Barbie, including knitting her sweaters with tiny little needles! I had NO IDEA how difficult making those clothes was.

I also once won a prize for knowing Barbie's full real name! Anyone wanna guess what that it WITHOUT going to Widipedia?


p226 said...

I never really played with the GI Joe stuff as a kid. If I got my hands on one, they never lasted long. There were always BB guns, firecrackers, and as a last resort, fire itself to destroy the poor GI Joe toys. Yeah, I was a little like "Sid" in Toy Story. They didn't make one tough enough to survive a day with me. And if they had, I would've just taken it as a personal challenge.

No, I was all about the little green army men. the little 1.5" tall molded plastic guys. I'd play with those things for hours. I'd set up one group in the "defensive." I'd take a spoon and build them fighting holes and bunkers. I'd break little sticks and give them "log" roofs for overhead cover, and sprinkle grass on them for camouflage. I'd dig in a hundred or so in a dirt mound. Then I'd circle the perimeter with sticks and other stuff to serve as obstacles.

After that, I'd deploy about a hundred of them through the grass or dirt in the yard. Usually in platoon wedges. Sometimes in skirmish lines. And I'd work out a system. For example, I'd use a turn-based system where either side had five "moves." A move could include shooting at the other side, or physically moving one of the little guys around the area. The "defenders" usually didn't have to move, so they did a lot of shooting. The "attackers" always had to decide whether to move/advance or shoot.

I of course, played general for both sides. Determining move or shoot, and if shoot, who/what was the target. Often, I had a bb-gun that I used for the "shooting." Sometimes I didn't though, and would have to resort to throwing a rock or marble. For example if it was the defenders turn to shoot, I'd walk around behind them, and fire five shots at the "advancing" infantry. Then I'd walk around behind the attackers and shoot with the bb-gun or move them.

I'd do this for hours and hours in the yard. Sometimes, all day. Sometimes with very elaborate defenses, sometimes with all the "soldiers" in the open.

Much later, when a senior staff NCO was telling us that attacking unit needed at three to one advantage in numerical superiority to successfully take well defended ground, I thought "no duh." My little 1.5" plastic army guys had proven that time and time again. This was a truth I knew at age 5. :)

Christie Kelley said...

Ahh, Barbie. I spent many hours escaping my brothers by playing Barbie in my bedroom. Funny thing is Barbie was pretty much off limits to them. They might destroy a stuffed animal but they never touched Barbie. I think they feared her :)

I had the Barbie camper and townhouse for her to settle down in. Unfortunately, my mom either gave away or threw out all our Barbie stuff.

jo robertson said...

Dani88, that's a good combo! My daughters always wanted to be the Barbie; no one wanted to be the guy or play with Hot Wheels :-D.

Today the large Barbie sections are like going into a candy story. So many Barbie things, so little time.

jo robertson said...

Oh, Nancy, I'd forgotten that the older Barbies didn't have bendable parts. Yeah, that was a very big deal! Lucky you that you got a dollhouse. That was a pricey item!

Nancy, don't let the boy give those action dolls away. Keep them for him. My SIL Steve gave me all his He-Man dolls, thinking he'd never want them. I took them, cleaned them up, and kept them. Then gave them back to my 5 yo grandson Jake. He loves them!

jo robertson said...

Ah, Christie, you put the Barbie-fear into your brothers! Funny!

Nancy, I'm not at all surprised you have Star Trek Barbie. I would expect nothing less of you!

jo robertson said...

Hehehehe, Suz, practicing for all that romantic suspense, huh? I adored Malibu Barbie. I thought she was so sexy!

Helen said...


I wish we had kept all the kids dolls and things for my grandkids now, I know Jayden would have loved the He Man dolls we do have the movie on DVD and he loves to watch that and Hayley would have loved all the Barbies things the girls had she does have one Barbie
at the moment that she plays with sometimes although she seems to be a little dare devil at the moment and likes to play with all the things Jayden does.

My son cooks and the girls do sometimes not much though.
How is Emma they really grow quickly don't they. I hope you are feeling better.

Have Fun

jo robertson said...

LOL, P226, I can totally see you like Sid in TS and I'm not surprised GI Joe didn't survive.

Did you know the answer to what the G.I. stands for?

I have four sons, so I've spent many a day playing army men with those little green soldiers. Back in the day you could shoot bb guns inside city limits so we set up a hay stack in our back yard and let the boys shoot at targets. That was cool until they took my heirloom watch and used IT for target practice.

jo robertson said...

Amanda, I think it's very clever that you made your own Ken doll out of a cast-off Barbie. My granddaughter Ellie has dozens of Barbies. She doesn't know how lucky she is to have so many when many girls had/have only one.

jo robertson said...

Yeah, AC, I was gonna say, "Thanks for sharing." Tee hee.

And yes, the first editions of Barbie came with either as a blonde or a brunette. Other colors of hair came later. No Barbies of color back in the first issues. "Francie" came out in 1967 and sometimes is called the first black Barbie, but the same facial mold was used for her as the lighter skin Barbie.

Black Barbie and Hispanic Barbie were launched in 1980.

jo robertson said...

Thanks for asking about Emma, Helen. She's sure growing fast and becoming quite a beauty. She's Hispanic on her mother's side and has beautiful black hair and dark eyes and the light skin of her father (my son). We just hope she won't be wide like her Mamacita and tall like her Pops. She could be quite the Amazon!

How are your grandbabies?

Joanna D'Angelo said...

Terrific post Jo! I had a G.I Joe knock-off instead of a Ken doll - I named him Tom- then again I didn't have a Barbie either - I had a "barbie-like" doll I named Penny. Together they had many adventures (get your mind out of the gutter) my dynamic duo solved crimes! My older sister had a Barbie and Ken. She's now a criminal lawyer and I'm a writer. Go figure.

jo robertson said...

Good question, Cindy! Does anyone know Barbie's full, real name?

Or the name of her first pet and what it was?

AC, I can't even imagine knitting something for Barbie. Talk about tiny needles!

Joan said...

AC, wow....your Mom could knit that little???

My Mom was an expert seamstress but she did occasionally get help from patterns that you could buy.

In her later years, she took to making Barbie furniture out of plastic needlepoint. She won ribbons at the fair with them!

And yeah, Nancy. I remember when those bendable Barbies came out. Some slick marketing exec enticed those of us with the ORIGINAL to trade them in to get one of the new marvels at a reduced price.

*&^%% marketing guy. I could be making some bucks now!

And p226? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much thinking for a 5 year old.

jo robertson said...

Joan, how innovative of your mom to make plastic furniture out of needlepoint. I've never heard of that.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Just in case anyone wants to know, Barbie's full real name was Barbara Millicent Roberts.

I used to work with a woman named Barbara Roberts and she told everyone Barbie was named after HER!


Pat Cochran said...

Barbies and GI Joes found a home
here with my daughters and one of
my sons. Along with all the "bits
and pieces" from houses to vehicles
and, for Joe, space capsules & boats which go with the figures. Only the occasional Ken came to reside here. All four of my grandaughters (sisters)have gone through the Barbie phase. The two youngest are still there! The "Baby Girls" (as they are known) are the proud possessors of a large toy storage container which contains every Barbie that has come into their home. Now these
dolls are not all in great shape,
they are more often undressed or
headless or bodyless. But they
are Barbies and they are theirs!

Pat Cochran

Terry Odell said...

My father's business partner's wife worked for Mattel and she was a walking Barbie. I never had a Barbie, but when my girls were born, my mom couldn't wait for them to be old enough for her to give them Barbies. Since they had an 'in' at Mattel, my kids had way too much 'stuff'. I drew the line at the townhouse, so what does Mom do? Sends all the furniture! You know what it's like to step on Barbie wine goblets and Barbie forks from the Barbie china hutch?

I did carry over a little of the Barbie tradition in When Danger Calls. Although we don't see the actual scene, heroine sends hero upstairs to check on her daughter and friend who have been playing Barbie.

p226 said...

And p226? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much thinking for a 5 year old.

You have no idea. I got in trouble in first grade because I'd already done the entire week's work in school, and I was busying myself by mapping out WWII battles. See, I'd gotten in trouble for getting bored and talking, and was told to shut up. So I shut up and started doing my own thing. "My own thing" was studying the hardware battles of WWII.

Hell, I thought entirely too much for my own good as a kid. I got in trouble in 4th grade for talking/goofing off in class (because I was so perpetually bored) and the teacher made me sit in the front row, right across from her desk.

This was horrible. Torture. I hated it. And I thought long and hard about my problem until I came to a solution. On the way to school, there was a very large patch of ramps. Ramps are wild onions that are kind of local to Appalachia. They taste ok. But the smell that comes off of you after eating them is outright heinous. This reek leaks out of your breath and your very pores. It's truly amazing.

So, on the way to school each day I ate about a quart of these things. On the third day, the stink was so severe, not only did the teacher move me to the back of the class, but she actually opened the fire door and moved me OUTSIDE.

It was perfect.

Then she called my parents. :(

No more ramps for me.

I wonder if GI Joe ate ramps.

Anna Campbell said...

P226, you're kinda scary, but you're WAAAAAAY interesting! What a great story - I think you were practicing for your future career too! And the ramps story is hilarious!

Joan said...

(sniff, sniff)

I looked up the definition of precocious.....

You are your own definition.

The lair wouldn't be the same without ya....

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Jo, you could be right, her daddy was adamant in the beginning that there wasn't going to be all that Barbie "stuff".

Christine Wells said...

Hi Jo, great blog! I didn't know all that about Barbie. She has more depth than I expected!

I didn't like dolls much as a child but I liked kissing Barbie and Beauty Secrets Barbie because they came with cool accessories. I'd rather have been out playing cricket or riding my bike, at that age, most of the time.

I must say I think it's a bit weird for people to think Barbie has so much influence on young girls' eating habits. It's far more like to be their mothers' and peer groups' influence than a doll, IMO, but what would I know.

Congrats, Virginia!

Tawny said...

Why do you suppose some girls adore Barbie and other never take to her? I have one granddaughter who never was much interested in dolls of any kind. I kept buying her Barbies and they stayed in the corner of the toy closet. Sigh! Their mothers are completely baffled. Where did they go wrong?

*sigh* I ask myself this all the time. I thought I'd scored two kids to play Barbies with and they don't want anything to do with it *pout*

and YES- Barbie had the coolest shoes. Downside, no diff between left and right LOL

p226 said...

Anna, I don't think of myself as scary. I'm a super mellow guy in person. Usually fairly quiet and reserved. I'm usually one of those guys that sits and listens for a while before I speak. And when I do speak (or act) I try to be concise and efficient. Scary is not a term normally applied to me.

jo robertson said...

Hey, P226, I think of you as calm, cool, and collected, someone I'd want around in a crisis.

BUT the things you know how to do -- now THAT'S scary!

jo robertson said...

I know, Tawny! I love how the shoes are interchangeable. Now the American Girl doll shoes definitely have a correct foot. And the shoes are about $14-20 a pop!

I wonder if the girly gene skips a generation? My baby daughter has a daughter who's -- well, she's a boy -- Star Wars, soccer and softball, only wears sports clothes -- she'd dispatch post haste any Barbie who dared show herself in her bedroom!

Nancy said...

AC, I had no idea there were Barbie alternatives. *g*

I do not know Barbie's real name.

My sister had Midge. I had Skipper. Also a blonde. Not that there's anything wrong with blondes; it's just that I didn't happen to be one.

jo robertson said...

You KISSED Barbie, Christine??? We just kissed the insides of our arms and pretended they were boys' lips.

Here's another fun thing about Barbie. The original one had a downcast demure look to her eyes, but later ones looked full ahead, bold and sassy.

I like bold and sassy!

jo robertson said...

ROTFLOL at the ramps story, P226. I don't think G.I. Joe ate ramps, though.

I've never heard of ramps. Is that like wild onions that grow in California?

Nancy said...

p226, you clearly had a military mind inborn. That sounds really cool. Are these the same army men advertised inside comic books? They sound nicer than I envisioned those as being.

I wanted a toy gun, but my parents didn't see those as "girl" toys. We borrowed them from a neighbor boy instead.

Now I have Queen Amidala's laser pistol from The Phantom Menace.

jo robertson said...

Hilarious, Terry. There was method to your mom's madness. Now you'd HAVE to give in about the townhouse just to keep all the furniture out from under your feet!

Nancy said...

Susan, the boy used to pick little army guys on parachutes ("parachute guys") as his treat at the dentist. I never thought of trying Barbie with a parachute!

jo robertson said...

Here's the answer to Barbie's real name.

She was Barbara (named after Ruth Handler's own daughter) Millicent Roberts! And she has an entire history with her parents in Wisconsin. Apparently Random House marketed a series of novels about Barbie's life. Who knew?

Nancy said...

Jo, I'm keeping some of the action figures, but storage space is an issue. All the Star Wars figures went, a while back, and I didn't love movies 1-3 enough to care. I'm a 4-6 "original" SW fan.

But I do like that laser pistol. I shoot rejection letters with it. :-)

Nancy said...

p226, you needed a better school. But that story demonstrates a deviously creative mind.

jo robertson said...

Pat, I'm curious. How long did the Barbie phase last with your granddaughters? My most avid Barbie lover is turning 10 and I'm afraid she'll give them up soon.

jo robertson said...

Oh, AC, I didn't see your answer to the Barbie question. How funny that you worked with someone named Barbara Roberts! I'd probably have spun that fib too!

Nancy said...

Joanie, I think my sister traded in Midge. She traded in something, but I think it was for a twist and turn Barbie--when Barbie got a waist joint, sort of.

Yeah, you could be making money, but if it makes you feel better, Barbies are probably like any other collectible--the more it looks like it was handled, the less it's worth.

Nancy said...

Jo, I did actually have a Barbie novel or two--got them from Scholastic Book Club or something like that. Or maybe the school book fair. I think I kept them but have no idea where they now are.

jo robertson said...

Okay, I'm off to do the treadmill.

Here's another Barbie trivia question.

Saudi Arabia banned Barbie in 2003. What was the alternative Barbie for the Middle East?

p226 said...

Are these the same army men advertised inside comic books?

Nope. I did have some of those though. They were really cool. They had all kinds of stuff (badly out of scale) like ships and tanks and planes. I used them when it was raining. I'd make little maps and treat each army man like a "division of infantry" and the little planes like a wing of fighters or bombers.

But the ones I spent all my time outside with were the ones that usually came in bags or buckets at the toy stores. They'd all be in different poses. Like one guy as a commander with a 45 pistol, another firing a rifle kneeling, one shooting offhand, one shooting a squad machine gun, a radio operator, guy with a bazooka or other rocket, etc... Usually about 50 to a pack.

jo robertson said...

Yep, P226, those were the kinds my boys had. And weren't they the same ones in TOY STORY? The ones who relayed the message about the birthday party gifts?

jo robertson said...

Aren't those Scholastic Book deals great, Nancy? I love how kids can buy them through their classroom at very affordable prices. I didn't know they sold the Barbie books that way.

Joan said...

Midge. Yeah. I remember her.

Mostly because Santa or whoever never brought me an official Ken carrying case so he and his stuff went into a Midge case someone gave me.

OMG. I now realize that in today's world this would mean that if Ken got caught in the middle of p226's offensive he'd run off screaming like a girl!!!!!

Um, could somebody pass me a GI Joe for Millicent?

Nancy said...

Joan wrote: OMG. I now realize that in today's world this would mean that if Ken got caught in the middle of p226's offensive he'd run off screaming like a girl!!!!!

I strongly suspect Ken was the kind of guy who used "product." A guy the Queer Eye guys would never need to worry about.

If G.I. Joe couldn't stand up to those army men, I don't think Ken would've had a prayer.

Nancy said...

p226, thanks for the clarification. I'm glad to know the guys from the comic book were worth having.

Nancy said...

Jo, I'm not sure where I got those Barbie books. Might've been a Barbie book club, even. I think there were about 6 of them, but I don't think I had all of them.

They had blonde ponytail Barbie on the covers.

Have fun on the treadmill.

Louisa Cornell said...

Late to the party. Kudos on the GR, Virginia! Wonder if they'll ever come up with a Golden Rooster Action Figure?

I have an original Barbie and Skipper and I think there's a Midge in there somewhere. They're all in a Barbie carrying case in my room at my Mom's house. They are somewhat worse for wear as I did play with them quite a bit. They even traveled to England and back. They had quite a few adventures that involved my Breyer horses as I recall. Those dolls are probably worth a small fortune at this point. My brothers both have some of the GI Joe's they got as kids. Now our cousin had an entire basement FULL of GI Joe stuff complete with these huge tables set up with terrains and all kinds of things. He had every kind of GI Joe accessory there was. It was fabulous. Wonder if he still has it?

My Mom has a collection of Holiday Barbies that anyone would envy. My Dad started buying them for her at Christmas every year from the year the first one came out. After we lost Dad, my brother, Jim, took over so she hasn't missed a single one. They are on display on bookshelves in her den. When my niece was little she'd say "Those are Nana's dolls. They're for looking, not for playing."

jo robertson said...

Louisa, what a great idea! A Golden Rooster Action Figure. We'll have our R&D department get right to work on that.

BTW, congrats on your recent Golden Heart finaling!

What a nice thing for your brothers to keep up your father's tradition of buying the Holiday Barbies for your mom!

jo robertson said...

Yeah, Joanie, I don't think Ken was ever the G.I. Joe type, more a California surfer LOL.

BTW, the answer to the question I asked earlier is . . . the Fulla doll was created (not by Mattel) as a doll more "appropriate" for Muslim culture. I see one alternative dressing in which Fulla wears a Birka.

jo robertson said...

Thanks to everyone today for playing "Barbies" with me. I love the whole iconic Barbie-culture, guess that means I'm a true girly girl, even though I was a tomboy as a child. Hmmmm, maybe BECAUSE I was a tomboy!

Pat Cochran said...

Just got back to the Lair!

Jo, the girls were all around 10 to
11 when their Barbie days slowed,
around 12 when the Barbies were put "on the shelf." We will still have Barbies to play with ( and yes, this
Grandma plays with Barbies and has
own of her own!) because the "Baby
Girls" (the youngest granddaughters) are only 4 and 5!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

P226, I mean scary in the NICEST way!!! ;-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Jo. I am really chuffed to be a Golden Heart finalist this year. Especially in the company of the Banditas two-fisted finalist KJ !!

What sort of accessories do you think a Golden Rooster action figure would need?