The Old Sailor Henry was my first real needle felted soft sculpture doll and is #1 in my Familiar Others Series.
Henry was inspired by an incident that happened at my very first job, car-hopping at Archie's Drive-In Restaurant in Rockwood, Tennessee, during the 1960s. I was working there during my fourteenth Christmas eve and it was bitter cold, snowing and the wind was howling like a banshee. I was a little runt then and the wind cut threw me like a knife. But I kept right on running from car to car, order to order. We were famous for our cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes (my favorite was strawberry) and last minute Christmas shoppers and travelers were pouring in by the carload. I didn't mind though, I needed the tips to help pay for a portable stereo my mom had let me buy on her dime - my first debt and my first financial responsibility - it was a valuable lesson that has served me well over the years.
Anyway, near closing time a car load of homeward bound sailor boys pulled into the parking lot hankering for hot chocolate and burgers. They were super nice, polite, very cute and totally sympathetic to this teenager who was freezing her skinny little legs off - we wore skirts back then, not slacks. I'm sure my cheeks were rosey red, my nose would have easily lit the way for Santa had Rudolph not been available, and my ears hurt like heck. One of the sailors - the cutest one I might add - took pity on my coverless head and offered me his sailor hat...for keeps! I was thrillled and treasured it for many years thereafter. I think of those sailors every Christmas eve, especially the cute one who gave me his head covering on that bitter cold night. I wonder where and how he is...who knows, maybe he is an Old Sailor Henry with long hippie hair and a cute little grin.
My Henry doll is very proud that his uniform still fits....well, actually it is a little snug around the middle making the pants fall a little short but that's okay, he still looks very cute to me.
Henry looked especially cute before clothing. Almost wish I had left him bare.