Carma Sutton is Barbie's Best Friend 2007.11.07

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Carma Sutton is just about out of the Barbie doll business, but they’ve certainly been a part of her life for a long time.

She and Barbie go back to 1959, the year Barbie was introduced by Mattel and when her daughter, Jeannie, received her first one.carma.sutton.jpg

“Jeannie had one of the first Barbie dolls out and she got me started making clothes,” Carma said.

Jeannie surely had the best-dressed Barbie in the area. Even after she was finished playing with Barbies, people remembered her mother’s miniature dresses and sweaters.

People still asked Carma for doll clothing and she used to sell a few items. She would knit tiny sweaters, crochet a dress and sew a blouse.

Years later—decades later—Carma’s work with Barbie dolls led to a project that has brought a Merry Christmas to dozens and dozens of little girls.

When a shopper at Fayette’s St. Vincent de Paul store found a clean, bright-looking Barbie, it was Carma Sutton who had made it look new again.

Barbie rehab

Long after her daughter had graduated and moved away, Carma remembers trips to Salvation Army stores with Louva Brooks. The two friends sometimes went looking for bargains.

They were looking for clothing, but Carma couldn’t help but pause when she went past the Barbies.

She often bought two or three and brought them home to spruce up.

When the St. Vincent de Paul store was built in the early 1990s, Phil and Betty Monahan were the doll cleaners, but eventually Carma got involved—at least with the Barbies. They were her specialty, and she became the Barbie volunteer for many years.

“They come messed up and I fix them,” Carma said. “Sometimes you wonder if kids really appreciate them.”

Year after year, she refurbished more than a hundred dolls for each Christmas.

Most of them needed a good scrubbing to return the “skin” to its original luster. The clothes needed to be washed—sometimes bleached—and many dolls were in need of new outfits.

“I made a lot of the clothes, but I got tired of that,” she said.

She had a collection of used outfits and footwear. Sometimes a drop of glue was needed to keep one of Barbie’s glamorous boots from falling off.

Carma’s Barbie hair salon presented the biggest challenge. It can take an hour to make a doll’s hair look good again.

Little girls like to unbraid a doll’s hair, but when that happens, it generally turns into a big frizz.

Carma has spent a lot of time rebraiding and making a new style. With many problem cases, Barbie goes out the door with hair a lot shorter than when she came in.

When a bald Barbie comes in, Carma got out her needles and crocheted a little hat.

Carma worked on Barbies through July of this year, but then at age 93, she decided to turn the job over to a new volunteer from Hillsdale County. She passed on her collection of pieces—all sorted and bagged—and she’s looking forward to seeing what the new Barbie lady produces.

“I won’t miss the worry,” Carma said about the rush toward Christmas, but she can’t completely leave behind the doll that’s been a part of her life for so many years.

“I’ll still take a few to fix up,” she said. “I really like Barbies.”

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017