But first, meet my boys.
The one on the left is Aaron, a fine-looking blond whose eyes are as blue as his bibs. The one on the right is Joey, a brown eyed handsome chap all decked out in coffee colored knickers. Neither look a day over 10 months but both are 20 years old.
Without fail, they conjure up a conversation when people come to our house and pick them up. With soft and squishy bodies, holding them is like holding a living breathing baby.
Jim and I were having coffee in the living room the other day when we started talking about Aaron and Joey. I couldn’t recall the exact year I brought them home but it was during the time North Third Street in Grand Forks had a roof over its head and one block of downtown was known as City Center Mall.
It was in that mall, at a craft show, that I first laid eyes on Aaron. He took me back to my childhood when I had a boy doll that looked much like him. I bought Aaron on the spot from a very sweet lady who was displaying and selling her dolls at the show.
As Jim and I talked in the living room that day, I wondered about the doll maker. I couldn’t recall her name, but it seemed to me she had moved from Grand Forks with her husband to a small town in Minnesota.
My investigative reporter instincts kicked in and three phone calls later I had a number for Noe Reese, who with her husband, Babe, lives at Fosston, Minn.
Noe (short for Noella) was as happy to hear from me as I was to find her. She remembered me and she remembered Aaron and Joey. It was a reunion.
I never knew the markings were there, but Noe told me to check the nape of the boys’ necks and there etched in the porcelain are her initials and the date she made them – 1992.
I recall that the day I bought Aaron, Noe told me she also made a brown-eyed boy doll. Since our two sons each have one brother, I thought Aaron needed a brother, too, so I ordered Joey. He came to us just a few weeks later.
My goodness do they make me smile as they spend their days sitting in the little rocking chair that we bought when our sons were toddlers. In fact, the cap Aaron wears was our oldest sons’ cap.
It was fun to hear Noe’s doll making story. She learned the art from a pastor’s wife, the late Leila Jacobson, whose husband, the Rev. Arvild Jacobson served Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Northwood, N.D., for many years.
“I was working at McGiffin’s Hobby Shop and Leila brought in a doll,” Noe said. “She was looking for flowers for her hair. I loved the doll and she said if I was interested she would teach me how to get started in doll making. She was pouring (ceramic) dolls and I was taking them home, cleaning the porcelain and getting them ready for firing. Then she showed me how to paint the dolls and put them together. She was so precious and it was so easy to visit with her. We shared many happy hours. We even prayed together. She was a lovely spirit filled lady.”
Soon Noe purchased her own kiln, and proceeded to make porcelain dolls and sew their clothes for 11 years. “I had a real business going,” she said. “I sold dolls that went to Sweden and Germany.”
During their 30 years in Grand Forks, as Noe made dolls and worked at McGiffins and a fabric store, her husband, Babe, operated Babe’s Oxen Shop in the Grand Cities Mall. He also had a coin shop in downtown Grand Forks.
Now, about Peaches and Cream:
When I was 5 years old my mother took me along on a train trip to Portland, Ore., to visit her aunt and cousin. As the train rolled out of the station in Minot, N.D., Mom presented me with a gift, a beautiful doll wrapped in a shoe box. Because of the doll’s beautiful complexion, we decided together to name her Peaches and Cream. She was my constant companion on that train ride.
Like the boy doll I had as a child, I don’t know whatever happened to the original Peaches and Cream. Not long after Aaron and Joey came to our house a doll catalog came in the mail that featured this doll, whose name was Peaches and Cream. I knew she had to come live with us, too.
Peaches and Cream is a good companion to Aaron and Joey. They play so quietly together in my living room that sometimes I check to make sure they aren’t getting into mischief.
They never are. They are good as gold kids!