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|Raggedys in Cyberspace|
In the summer of 1996 I uploaded my first personal web site. The web site was an online portfolio of my art projects - focusing mainly on my paintings and drawings. One small section of the site was dedicated to my Raggedy Ann & Andy collection. At the time, I had only found one other web site with any information about collecting the dolls, and I thought it would be nice to have a portion of my site dedicated to my hobby. Little did I realize how many people would find my Raggedy section!
Within the past few years, I have received several hundred emails written by Raggedy lovers from all over the world. Some letters were inquiries on where they could buy the dolls, but most would write to share their Raggedy related stories with me. I was amazed at the amount of letters that poured in weekly because of people's love for these two dolls.
Some of the most amazing letters that I received were very personal accounts on how these dolls have affected people lives. One woman wrote to find an old movie that she remembered as a child, hoping to lift the spirits of her ailing daughter. Another woman wrote trying to find a talking Raggedy Andy doll from the 1960s. Her boyfriend was the voice that was recorded as Raggedy Andy when the boy was only 10 years old. I even had a gentleman write asking where he might find a blue Camel with the Wrinkled Knees doll for his wife. If was her favorite growing up, and she had lost it years ago.
I was truly amazed at the thought that these dolls, which were created over 80 years ago, could create such a sense of community in the computer age.
To demonstrate this phenomenon, I created an installation using two very old and tattered dolls from the 1950s. I sat them down, and had them hold the original Raggedy Ann Stories book as if they were reading it. When the viewer picked up the book, and lever was released which triggered a cassette player. On the cassette player, I had taped several "voices" from my computer reading aloud individual emails related to Raggedy Ann and Andy. I thought this would present an interesting concept of merging the two worlds of the "old and the new" together.