The Millstone Times June 2021

K NOW . . . ? Pam Teel

Legend #2- Raggedy Ann’s candy heart In 1918, around the time his Raggedy Ann Stories was first published by the P.F. Volland Company, Johnny Gruelle rented space in Norwalk, CT, and set his family to work constructing several dozen handmade Raggedy Ann dolls to be marketed along with the books. Whether these were prototype dolls for Volland to use, display dolls, or were among the first dolls to be commercially marketed, is not documented. And no one can verify just how many of these dolls were produced by the family. However, one very charming, very long-lived legend grew out of this early era of family-made dolls. It had to do with Raggedy Ann's candy heart. Anyone who has read Raggedy Ann Stories will tell you that Johnny Gruelle gave his storybook Raggedy Ann a candy heart right from the start. The candy heart was a spiritual source of Raggedy Ann's sweet outlook and kindly ways. But, beyond the storybook, word began circulating that some of the first Raggedys produced by the Gruelle's did, indeed, possess real-life candy hearts, with "I Love You" printed on them. Worth Gruelle, John-

ny's son, distinctly recalls being sent to the downstairs confec- tioners to buy the sugary delights to be sewn into the chest of each doll, picking out the "I Love You" hearts from those with other messages. The candy heart account is both difficult to discount and difficult to verify and the fact that not one old or new Raggedy Ann doll has been found in which there are remains of a sewn-in candy heart makes it difficult to classify this charming account as actual history. Legend #3- Gruelle created the dolls after his daughter died from an infection A third legend was that Gruelle created the dolls after his daughter died from an infection from the vaccine as a protest against vaccines, but Gruelle filed the patent for his Raggedy Ann Dolls several months before Marcella received any vac- cinations, became ill, or died. To note, she was given the vac- cination in school without his consent. Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy tales were de- signed for children aged four to ten years old and were in- tended by Gruelle to “contain nothing to cause fright, suggest fear, glorify mischief, excuse malice, or condone cruelty”. His tales promoted courage, honesty and virtue and presented a moral end to each tale. Gruelle also created other characters, such as Beloved Belindy and Wooden Willie, who were both also a success with members of the public and provided inspi- ration for numerous fairy tales, poems and songs. His characters, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, remain two of the most recognizable characters from children’s liter- ature. His dolls are still in production today passing 105 years in 2020. Despite Gruelle’s success during his lifetime, he lived in almost complete anonymity throughout his life. He and his family moved to Miami, Florida in the 1930s. Gruelle began moving in faster social circles and drank heavily. His work and his health suffered and he died of a heart attack in 1938 at the age of fifty-seven.

www. 5

Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker