Several months ago, we had a great discussion on our Barbie years and from there, went on to our paper dolls memories. The topic of “hope chests” also emerged and off we chased that proverbial rabbit! During those conversations, I remembered another of my childhood obsessions…Katy Keene!
I’m pretty sure my fascination began with spotting the comic book with her in quite possibly the poofiest wedding dress known to mankind! A cousin who had out-grown the comic books gave me a few old issues. I was doomed.
This was around 1957-ish? I had just come off a high of being the flowergirl in a cousin’s wedding so that surely made me a wedding expert?! I wanted MORE.
Now, comic books back then were $.10. That’s right. One thin dime. But dimes at our house were a novelty and for me to rake up the courage to ask for one so I could buy another comic book was something to behold. I was a shy little thing…I know, hard to imagine. The fear of being told “no” nearly overwhelmed me, but I asked. And I received!! I had just entered Katy Keene Comic Book geekness. Coggin Drug Store became THE place to get a Katy Keene fix.
I rushed home with my purchase…well, actually, my mother rushed us home in a mint green Studebaker, and I went straight to my room. I could hardly believe it. I had Katy in my hands…all of those glorious outfits, created to coordinate with the story Bill Woggon had written. Sitting in the middle of my bed, I proceeded to get acquainted with Katy..buxom Katy, beautiful Katy, raven-locked Katy. Questions zoomed in my head: HOW did she get those…buxom “muffins”? Would I EVER be that beautiful? Why oh why did I have blonde hair when what I really wanted was black hair like Katy?!!!! And Katy was always smart and sweet and resourceful and…well-dressed. Very well dressed!!
Then I met Sis, her little sister and immediately pitied her. Good grief. The poor kid had red pigtails that stuck out in opposite directions. And had freckles all over her nose. ( Wait. So did I. Things were going downhill fast.) Plus, Sis was always in trouble and having to be rescued, usually by her big sister, Katy.
Katy had friends!! One was blonde and her name was Gloria. Oooo, immediately, I didn’t like her. She was haughty, a show-off, always jealous of Katy and sometimes just plain old mean. Nope, didn’t like her. But she was also very well-dressed. Very. Lucki Red was also a dazzling dressed friend of Katy’e and she had red hair. Bertha was a “fluffy” sized friend, (who btw, I identify with much more these days!) and there were more. And all of them were…very well-dressed.
And Katy had a BOYFRIEND? No, actually she had two. Uh oh, the plot thickens. K.O. the boxer was the obvious choice but Randy, the rich guy was cool too. I couldn’t decide which one to choose. Apparently Katy couldn’t decide either, as she see-sawed between the two guys for next 50 years!
Oh my, was I ever entranced!! And GLORY HALLELUJAH!!!! There were PAPER DOLLS in each issue??!! I grabbed my mother’s scissors (a no-no as you NEVER EVER use sewing scissors on paper. Ever. Period. But she forgave me and got me my very scissors.) and began to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y cut out Katy and the wardrobe provided. I had entered Paper Doll ecstasy.
I quickly figured out the cheap paper the dolls were printed on would not hold up to hours of pretend play, so I laid the doll onto some cardboard I had rummaged out of the closet, traced around her, cut the figure out and pasted the doll to the cardboard figure. And it worked rather well. It was official. I was a genius.
Thus began my fascination with Katy. I subscribed to Katy’s monthly magazine/comic book, sent off for paper dolls with clothing that YOU colored and popped for the Special Edition of the Pin-Up Parade for a fortune of $.25. It was jam-packed with all sorts of Katyness. The days my magazines arrived in the mail were nail-biters. My mother would have to drag me out of my room just to eat! Eventually, I had a box full of Katy and her “haute couture”. I designed my own outfits for her and in color, of course. Remember, I had my Coloramas carefully stashed away for special events and THIS was most certainly a Special Event!!!
Sadly, the Katy box disappeared. Along with all of my paper dolls. My mother and I talked about that recently. I had all of my dolls. Why did my paper dolls get lost? Well, the way we have it figured; they were small, all in a shoe box, and that made them easily mistaken for…well, an old box. Yeah it was decorated to the hilt but understandably IDed as junk. *sniff*
You know what? I think I’ll just skip on over to eBay and check out Katy’s presence there. I’ll bet she’s there just waiting for me!!!
Links that have fabulous Katy pics, including full story pages and MORE!