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All Dolled Up

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Eula Mae Baker's doll collection

By Michele Roberts

Eula Mae Baker has a thing for dolls. Dolls of all shapes, sizes, and textures line the walls of her home in Lancaster, and she can tell you all about each one of them – no matter how long she’s had them. At 88-years-old, she has been building the collection for several decades.

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“I loved dolls as a child, but I really started collecting them when my grandchildren were young,” she said. “I would buy one for them and they would get tired of it, so I would sit it up somewhere. Then I’d get them another one, and, before long, I realized when I got one for them, I would want to get a new one for myself.”

Baker has purchased her dolls from various places and has found many at the flea market. Some were purchased from catalogues and doll stores, but she says she never paid full price for them.

“I would wait until they went on sale before I bought them,” she said. “It was the smartest thing, because then I could sometimes afford more than one, by waiting on the sale prices.”

Baker even has a doll dressed in a soldier outfit, in memory of her husband, John H. Baker, whom she said served in the military before passing away at the age of 43.

She has numerous wedding dolls, including an entire bridal party, complete with groom, bride, ring bearer, flower girl and bridesmaid.

Baker also has a Princess Diana doll, dressed in a formal gown, and a Hillary Clinton doll, dressed in a trademark pantsuit.

“I love them all, and I really want them to be taken care of after I’m gone,” she said. “I’m 88 years old, and I really don’t know what’s going to happen to me. Some of them will go to my children, but there will be many more left. These dolls represent many years of my life.”

Baker said she has taken many dolls to elderly people in nursing homes and given others away to church members and friends.

“I just want them to bring as much joy to other people as they have brought to me,” she explained. “Some people have said I should sell them, but I prefer to give things away.”

Baker also has a thing for clocks and has clocks of all shapes and sizes as well.

She has several clocks that either had missing hands or wouldn’t run, but to Baker, that wasn’t cause enough to throw the clock away.

Instead, she would cover the clock face with a picture, making an instant and unconventional picture frame, or she would take the clock face out completely and replace it with a tiny animal or carousel horse.

“Clocks can still be beautiful things even if they don’t run,” she said. “If I found one I really liked, I didn’t let the fact that it didn’t run stop me from turning it into something pretty.”

Baker was also an Avon sales representative for about 12 years, and has many of the glass bottles in different shapes that used to contain cologne and perfume.

“I like having these, because they put everything in plastic now,” she said. “These are reminders of a very different time.”

Baker said anyone who is interested in her dolls is welcome to call her.

“I just ask that they speak slowly and clearly, because I have hearing implants that make it a little difficult to understand everything I hear on the phone,” she said. “But I also have an answering machine, so please leave me a message as well.”

Baker can be reached at (803) 283-9729.