In Which We Explore Heidi’s Fear of Dolls (And Giraffes)

In Which We Explore Heidi’s Fear of Dolls (And Giraffes)

Yesterday, my family and I found ourselves smack dab in the middle of Sisters, Oregon.
What does one do when finding oneself in a situation like this? One must go shopping.
Newt requested that we get ourselves to a candy shop toot-suite.


The last time we were in Sisters, there was a fairly large candy store, however, things will change when you are not looking. The location is now a handmade furniture store–considerably less tasty. We were informed that a local antique shop had taken over the role of town candy supplier so we headed up the road and entered the creepiest store on the planet.

Here is just a small sampling of why it deserves that title:

Hitler Stamps–Never Used


The Racism Cabinet

The Hall of Sharp Things

All it wants is your love. And your soul.

Shirley Temple–Headlining in Heidi’s Nightmares

I am both fascinated and terrified by dolls. The way they stare at you with those soulless eyes…
(Note: I actually gave an involuntary shudder when I typed that. Just so you know.)

I have never enjoyed dolls all that much, though I can remember three from my childhood that I played with. The one I liked most one of those rag dolls that was, um, reversible? a topsy-turvy doll. Anyone remember those? It was a little white-skinned, fair-haired doll on one side, but when you flipped it over and pulled the dress down, it became a little black doll with curly hair. I liked her because she had a secret. I was too young to know about conjoined twins, but if I had, that would have likely been a draw as well.
(I found a picture of a topsy-turvy doll here. I also found this one and am now scarred for life. I dare you to click it.)

When I was eight, all the girls at my school were desperate for Cabbage Patch Dolls. I caved to the peer pressure and begged for one too. My mom hinted that I would get one for my birthday–and I did.
A homemade one.
My mom worked really hard on it and I love her for trying to make her little girl’s dream come true, but readers? That doll was scary. I could feel its painted-on eyes staring at me through the night. I buried it in a pile of stuffed animals and tried not to think about it.

The most memorable doll was the only one I ever really loved. It was a Kewpie Doll given to me by my grandma. Yes, I know Kewpie Dolls are among the creepiest of the creepy (in fact, soul-eater up there is one), but I adored my grandma and didn’t get to see her often. This time she made the 800 mile trip out to visit and brought something just for me. Being near the tail end of a large family, spontaneous gifts didn’t happen very often. I loved my little doll with as much fervor as any three-year-old heart could handle.
That very day we went to the zoo, another unusual occurrence. It was panning out to be the best day of my entire young life. But that was about to change.
I remember cradling my little doll in a blue handkerchief ‘blanket’ my dad loaned to me. I chattered to her about all the animals we were to see. When we went to the giraffe pen, I was thrilled to find that we could get very close to them. In fact, all that separated us was a chain-link fence. One of those incredibly tall creatures ambled right up to us. If I had dared, I could have reached through the links and touched it.
It bent its neck over the fence, lowering its head toward me. I froze. It came closer, then closer still. Without warning, it shot out an amazingly long tongue, wrapped it around little Kewpie’s head, and *pop*–decapitated her. I remember screaming, looking down at my little bundled up doll torso.
My dad, who is short like me, reached as high as he could, barely clearing the fence, and throttled the beast. My mom started whacking it with her giant red vinyl purse. My grandma hurried off to find help. I honestly do not remember any siblings being there, but I’m certain they were, and that they were laughing.
Either the giraffe tired of the abuse or he found the plastic less appealing than it looked. He spit my doll’s head out and it landed with a thunk on the pavement. The last thing I remember about that day was looking down and seeing Kewpie grinning up at me, covered in a shining layer of giraffe spit.
This likely explains why, to this day, I do not like dolls.
Or giraffes.

Edited to add:



  1. You really know how to write a Hallmark moment. Also – I had a doll that was Little Red Riding Hood and when you flipped her over she was Grandma and THEN (the best part) when you pulled the bonnet down, THE BACK OF GRANDMA’S HEAD WAS A TERRIFYING WOLF. People who make toys, write children’s tales and television shows – really – they should have their own stamps in that scary shop of horrors.

    • Please tell me that is my secret Santa gift. It would terrify me, but I want it anyway.

  2. Creepy dolls are so creepy. That store is a real winner. Reminds me of a few antique shops I’ve been to. I feel really lucky that my kid never really got into dolls. She had two she loved (Baby and Ducky, which were basically the same doll, but Ducky’s body was plastic and she could go in the bath).

    When I was a kid, my mom installed a hamper made from a pillow case and a clothes hanger. The pillow case was trimmed to look like a fancy little dress, including arms and legs. Concealing the hanger was a giant doll head, yarn hair and all. It had huge staring eyes, and it hung on my closet door, at eye level while I lay in bed. O_O I REALLY do not like dolls. I tried to hide the hamper in my closet, but Mom kept putting it out, because it was “cute” and “fit in with the decor.” *shivers*

    • I have tortured Newt that way. When she was three, I spent hours creating a fantastic bedroom for her: Peter Pan’s shadow on the wall, hand painted fairies, clouds on the ceiling, castle in the clouds, etc… I spent about 50 hours painting it. Her headboard was a garden trellis and I hung shutters on the window. Adorable.
      She loved everything but the shudders. They apparently reminded her of a cartoon haunted house she had seen, but I did not know that until years later–when she was old enough to articulate it.
      She would cry that she was afraid of the shudders, I would take them down for a week or two, then put them back up and start the cycle all over again.

  3. Your giraffe story is terrible! So sad! I’m guessing a doll wearing a giraffe costume is not high on your Christmas wish list?

    Also, I have to ask: did you actually buy any candy in that story? Yikes!

    • Store! Not story. (Although buying candy in a story doesn’t seem like a good idea either, not after hearing Hansel and Gretel.)

      • Ha! Definitely not a good idea.
        I gave Newt $5 and told her she could spend it all on candy or keep it for something else. She spent $1 on Zots and pocketed the rest of the money, quick as a flash.
        We did spend a few minutes marveling over their large selection of candy and bubblegum cigarettes and cigars.
        Truly a strange store. 🙂

  4. OMG, you poor little kid – decapitated doll?

    I share your fear but for me, it’s Barbie Dolls. I loathe them. Long before the first Toy Story was ever made, I was convinced Barbie Dolls came alive at night and partied in the toy box — they could never keep their clothes on.

    I am also against clowns and Play-Doh. Giraffes, so far, have not provided any of my emotional scars.

  5. Oh, wow. I have never had any problems with the Oregon Zoo giraffes, but the Denver Zoo giraffes were indecent. I couldn’t show them to my kids without awkward questions.

    • I’m not surprised that giraffes would be inappropriate. Not surprised at all.



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