Ginny, 1956 | Chapter and Verse | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Ginny, 1956

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I can still feel the lure of 
Grace’s store on Bower Hill:
anything a person needed,
shovels to shoestrings, to beer in the back room.
Saturdays with my dad, among all the hardware, 
I only had eyes for the Ginny Doll Fashions,
hung on the right-side pegged wall.

There: count my precious money;
choices must be made through 
clear cellophane windows on boxes.
A sunny ensemble for Easter, with straw hat and coat,
or sleeveless, red-checked gingham and denim,
tied at the waist like my mother’s shirts were? 

When I had less to spend,
there were accessories:
vinyl Mary Janes, with tiny side buttons, 
light blue satin slippers,
or a purse, a vinyl triangle, 
Ginny stamped in gold on the front. 

Back home I would add the latest outfit 
to my pink Ginny trunk with pink plastic hangers
that hung on a little metal rod. 
Not ordinary doll clothes, but detailed handiwork,
only Vogue designs worthy of these
miniature Madame Alexanders, 
authentically detailed,
down to a Brownie uniform
I found in the Girls Scout gift catalog,
and later under my Christmas tree.

My Ginny doll sits now on a small ragged rattan chair,
heavy-lidded eyes that open and close,
little red pout on her ivory face.
Jointed at shoulder and hip,
movable limbs still attached.
Sixty years old, eight inches tall,
and still limber.
Her wig, a matted mess,
brunette bangs
cut by the child who loved her.

She wears a zippered pale pink robe 
sprigged with rosebuds,
trimmed in ricrac and lace, 
white cotton panties, yellowed by years —

Black and white: a pretty eight-year-old stands in a new backyard,
squinting, half smiling, smocked dress and hair blowing. 
Behind her quick growing young poplar trees
try to hide new development on the hills beyond.

In her mind, she and Ginny were the same.
At night she would ask God to bless me and make me a good little girl.

My doll still is a good little girl,
with long-lashed eyes that close
when she lies down, 
and a perfect little pre-pubescent body,
miniscule breasts and sweet little tummy,
a body that never changed like mine,
a body I never had to think about twice.

― Diane Zebrine

Diane Zebrine lives in Allison Park and is a member of Carlow University’s Madwomen writing program. She was a teacher in Shaler Area schools and an elementary-school counselor in Hampton Township before retiring to travel and spend time with her grandchildren. She sings with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale and her church choir. Two of her poems appear in Voices from the Attic, Volume 22.





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