, Salem, MA


February 28, 2014

Letter: Memories of Shirley Temple

To the editor:

Shirley Temple was as big a part of my elementary school childhood as Harry Potter is for my grandchildren’s generation. We three sisters — Sally, Priscilla and Betty — wanted to be Shirley Temple. We wanted her dimples, her curls, her sparkling personality, her tap dancing and singing ability. We wanted to dance up and down the stairs like Shirley did with Bill Robinson.

There were other child stars at the time, the Our Gang crew, Jane Withers, Deanna Durbin, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and more. None had the appeal of Shirley Temple. We did not see her earliest movie shorts, made when she was 4 years old. The first movie I remember seeing was “Bright Eyes.” She and I were about the same age. I was in first grade, so Shirley and I were 6.

On a most exciting Christmas, we three sisters each received a 13-inch Shirley Temple doll. The doll was wearing a white dress with red dots. She had white patent leather shoes and socks. And even more surprising, Santa Claus put in our stockings tiny white ice skates that just fit Shirley’s dolly feet. Later, a friend sewed for my Shirley Temple doll a full Girl Scout “Brownie” uniform with a tiny brown felt cap. We loved those dolls. In my playtime, Shirley and I were Brownies together.

In our house one memorable September, we had Shirley Temple “Captain January” dresses that our mother ordered from Montgomery Ward in Albany, N.Y. All three of us wore these dresses for the first day of school. Clearly, finances were improved in our house that fall, as these were the first dresses we’d ever worn to school that were not handmade by our mother. Sally’s dress was pastel yellow, Priscilla’s dress was pastel green, and my dress was peach. The dresses were dotted dimity, also called dotted Swiss, with brown dots and brown soutache trim. We had matching ankle socks and our lunch box colors were the same as our dresses. We felt quite elegant in our new dresses.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate