Bil Browning

31 Days: The Squanto Baby

Filed By Bil Browning | September 09, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: boys playing with dolls, childhood memories, Native American, Squanto

The backstory behind this photo is after the break.


I'm doing a series of posts for 31 days that will feature a photo from my personal collections and the backstory behind the picture. I'm trying to stick with shots that have not appeared on the site before. I'm using the stories as a writing exercise to help me prepare for writing a book. You can find the rest of the series posts here:

When I was a kid I loved to play with dolls. My favorite was a big stuffed Native American doll my grandmother made me. I named him Squanto after the Indian who helped the Pilgrims/ (It was also the only Indian name I knew.)

I don't remember when she made it for me, but probably around the time I was five or six. Grandma was always making dolls and clothes for her grandkids. She loved to sew and had stacks of fabric in her closet just waiting to be turned into a treasure. None of us actually wore the clothes though - all of the patterns and fabric she had were way out of fashion - but we accepted them gracefully and wore them once so Mom could take a picture and send it to Grandma.

There were two of her gifts that I adored. One was a sock monkey and the other was Squanto. In this photo I'm sitting on the edge of my bed playing with the doll; I'm ten years old.

Grandma really went all out with Squanto. She embroidered all of his facial features and made him a little outfit with a shirt, hooded jacket, and pants with little suspenders that used snaps to keep it all in place. His hair was yarn she'd twisted and stitched in place. He even had little tiny underwear "to cover his you-know-what." I didn't. He didn't have anything under that underwear no matter how often I checked.

I loved that doll baby as much as a kid can. I carried it around with me for years and slept with it every night. When I'd practice the piano, I'd set him on the bench beside me so he could "accompany" me or at least watch while I struggled through yet another attempt at some concerto or another.

Now, Squanto sits on our dresser. I know it's silly, but sometimes I feel like he keeps watch over me in the night - a silent observer of my life and a helpmate as steadfast as his namesake.

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