January 24, 2019 at 3:22 p.m.
The Chisago County Historical Society’s new “Toys of Yesteryear” exhibit features late19th century and popular 20th century toys. These range from wood and metal toys to cast iron banks and GI Joes, replete with foot locker, survival gear and life raft. Nearby you’ll find three large glass cases filled with dozens of Barbies plus Ken and their friends.
An impressive FAO Schwarz doll house, furnished in exquisite detail, forms the centerpiece of the nostalgic exhibit. The dollhouse family is about to enjoy a miniscule loaf of bread emerging from the oven, and tiny pots and pans fill the sink in the 1940s-style kitchen. The more you look, the more fascinating details your eye will find in the two-story, two-sided structure.
Lin Strong, one of the Society’s directors, and editor of the Society’s History Journal, points out that virtually all of the toys in the current exhibit are on loan from Society members such as Arild Hagberg, Carol Dahlquist and Tarri Saba. She appreciates their willingness to loan personal items as the Society is very selective in accepting donated materials due to its limited storage space.
Lindstrom resident Saba provided the dollhouse and the Barbies. Her extensive collection spans six decades of changing fashion for the curvaceous doll introduced March 9, 1959, as Barbie Millicent Roberts of Willow, Wis. The first Barbie commercial aired on the The Mickey Mouse Club television show. The doll sold for $3 and her outfits for $1 to $5.
Saba does not own Barbie Number One, Two or Three, but acknowledges her favorite is Barbie Number Five, “Plantation Belle,” released in 1960. Belle’s gloves, lace-trimmed dress, tiny straw handbag and perfectly crafted hat make the beautiful brunette doll a standout.
“The costumes on the early Barbies were meticulously made, with real zippers and tiny buttons,” Saba adds.
Men, women, and school-age girls and boy will enjoy exploring the Toys of Yesteryear display. History Center winter hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Toys will remain on display now through April 15. Admission is free.
For those in a buying mood, the History Center also sells antique dishes and silverware, interesting Lindstrom souvenirs and old-fashioned candy as well as maple syrup, honey and lingonberries on a year-round basis.