SEA ISLE CITY — Dolls and Christmas go together, as visitors to the Sea Isle City Historical Society Museum learned at an open house Saturday.

On display was a collection of mostly mid-20th century dolls owned by curator Barbara Fourqurean McKeefery, of Sea Isle. As she showed the first doll she ever got when she was an infant in 1953 — called Saucy Walker — a visitor pointed to the Chatty Cathy next to it.

“I remember that doll,” said Kathy Martinelli, of Ocean City. “I have a picture of me with it as a baby. I can see it by the silver Christmas tree.” Chatty Cathy was a pull-string talking doll made from 1959 to 1965 by Mattel.

Martinelli's memory went back to about 1960, and the doll is long gone, she said. But for a while looking at another one, she was transported back to early childhood.

McKeefery also had vintage Barbie dolls on display from the earliest in 1959 and the early 1960s, dressed in clothing handmade by her mother, Emma Fourqurean.

The museum is in the public library at 4800 Central Ave.

A highlight of the permanent display is a collection of wedding gowns from city residents from just about every decade of the 1900s, said Historical Society President Abby Powell. There is also the Wall of Names, a bookshelf of photo and memorabilia books made by families who have lived in the city, some for many generations.

McKeefery interspersed another of her personal collections — of tea sets both child and adult size — among the dolls for the holiday display.

The oldest was played with by Sea Isle City insurance agent George Soeder, sold by the John Wannamaker Co. in Philadelphia.

“If he were alive, he would be about 130 years old,” McKeefery said, indicating the age of the set.

“All the Christmas ornaments in our home are vintage,” she said. “The ones we treasure most are from our families.”

While she has “too many collections,” she said she is lucky to have a husband who appreciates them as much as she does.

Next year she plans an exhibit of another of her holiday collections — vintage wrapping paper and Christmas cards.

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In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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