A red headed rag doll with red and white striped stockings created by cartoonist Johnny Gruelle. Raggedy Ann was the favorite doll of Johhny Gruelle's daughter Marcella, before she died at age 13 from an infected vaccination she received at school. Raggedy Ann is usually accompanied by her brother Andy and a blue camel with wrinkled knees. Legend has it that her name comes from two James Whitcomb Riley poems - "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphan Annie". People come from around the world every year to help celebrate Raggedy Ann during the Raggedy Ann and Andy festival in Arcola, Illinois.

Some interesting facts about the numberless Raggedy Ann stories: Raggedy Ann's companion, Andy, is not her brother but her lover/husband. (Which means the oft-reprinted poster of them getting it on is quite accurate.)

The second is that no Raggedy Ann story has a definite villain, due to a belief of the times that stories with "bad" characters were too upsetting for children (and were likely to produce "bad" behavior as well). While including situations that imperil the principals, plots advance not through the clash of Good and Evil, but through misunderstandings, deficits of communication and conflicting needs: the archetypical R. Ann situation is when the Other Guys are on one side of the hill and R. Ann, Andy, and the Camel are on the other. On meeting, the other guys caution them that there are hostile savages around -- they saw smoke from a fire, and accordingly armed themselves. R. Ann and company wonder aloud how they managed to deal with the bandits they saw encamped on the other side of the hill -- they were so afraid they lit a signal fire to get help. They therefore both go off looking for the bandits, who might be in league with the savages...Somehow through an intricate interlocking of these situations, a story is formed...definitely a specialized taste. Oddly enough, the same thing has been said of Tolstoy.

Something never remarked upon: in nearly all the books, there's a call to cut into, or otherwise customize your personal Raggedy Ann, to accommodate a candy heart, The Wishing Pebble, to politely eat a dinner, etc. In other wise, this doll is yours, let her journey replicate your own, in modern terms, she would be put under the Creative Commons, the absolute adversary of a "collector's edition" whose value is calibrated only in terms of it being "mint in box", or to put it another way, her value increases with each (wanted and longed-for) addition.

As for myself, I would consider it the ultimate enhancement to either a) give her soft-sculptured hands, so she might rightly wear her wedding ring, or b) give her lady parts. Johnny Gruelle was, in a way blessed: his daughter would always be alive in his mind, and even marry, but she would never, ever know improper desire. That is, she was both childish and middle-aged: her figure represents what a woman actually looks like beyond a very, very, short period when Nature makes her marriageable. Barbie, on the other hand, was a "teen-aged fashion model" in a postwar world where women were common, but men, a limited resource. I wonder which archetype you'd like to have for your daughter?

"Will it hurt, when it happens?" R. Ann says to me.
"It nearly always does. But it is wonderful..."
I pick up needle and red thread....

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