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Grandpa Snodgrass's Dancing Doll

Dancing Doll

My grandparents, Omer and Carletta Snodgrass, used to make dancing dolls. Granddad would sit on one end of a long flexible piece of wood on which he would pound with his hand in time to the music to make the doll dance. The music was usually provided by grandmother who would sing "Turkey In the Straw." The dolls were a source of entertainment for young and old alike and were frequently taken to school carnivals and similar functions where Grandmother and Granddad would have a booth.

The dolls were about 15 inches tall and made from scraps. The head and body was one piece cut from a piece of 3/4 inch thick wood. The arms, legs and feet were also wood about 1/4 inch thick. The legs were jointed at the hip and knee with small brads, the feet were attached in a similar fashion. Grandmother would fashion a jacket, shirt, and cummerbund from scrap material and use thumbtacks for the buttons and ears. The pants were bits of electrical tape and the hat was an old thread spool wrapped in electrical tape with a brim of cloth covered cardboard. I'm not sure, but I suspect it was Grandmother who would make the face with a wood burning tool. A hole was drilled in the doll's back and a stick inserted to make a handle.

I have no idea how many of these dolls Grandpa made, but it was quite a few. When I was a youngster, he made one for me and taught me how to make it dance. Making the thing dance is much harder than you might think, and I must admit I was never very good at it. My doll got lost after I left for the Marine Corps and the folks died. The doll in the accompanying photo and video was made for my Aunt Verda, who passed it on to me.



Be sure to turn your sound on, then click the play button.

Of course, that's Grandpa making the doll dance. Watching are Uncle Wilbur, cousin Larry, and I believe the woman standing by the car is Betty Mae.