Are the dolls in Old Town Spring really haunted?
Old Town Spring is filled with an assortment of shops, eateries, bars, and a hospital for dolls. Yes, you did read that correctly, a hospital for dolls. Dolls have a reputation of being creepy. Some of the most famous haunted/creepy dolls include: arguably the most famous, the Anabelle doll, located in Monroe Connecticut, Robert the Doll, in Key West Florida, and Okiku, in the Mannenji Temple in Iwamizawa, Japan. All of these dolls have something in common; they all have been said to possess supernatural powers. The same could be said of the doll hospital itself.
So what makes a doll so nightmarish? To answer this let us first examine the origins of the doll. Doll is defined as a small model of a human figure, typically one of a baby or girl, used as a child’s toy, and in some cases an artistic hobby for adults. Dolls can have their roots traced back as far back as the Bronze Age (≈3000 BCE – 1200BCE). The earliest known doll was unearthed in a Bronze Age grave and is described by the Dailymail.com as “Creepy 4,500-year-old statue with almond-shaped eyes and bushy eyebrows”. Wooden paddle dolls have been found in Egyptian tombs dating as far back as 21st Century BCE.
But it is the more recent dolls that have earned the dubious, and in some cases horrific reputation. Some could argue that this is a shout out of thanks to Hollywood. Since the 20th Century, creepy dolls have become more and more homicidal. As it is, Hollywood made what were known as “safely inanimate” objects into alarmingly animate objects. Lionel Barrymore starred in the 1936 thriller The Devil-Doll. Barrymore took on a role as a wrongly-convicted murderer, who turns two living humans into doll assassins, to wreak havoc, and revenge on those who framed him. The Twilight Zone’s Chatty Cathy – “My name is Talky Tina, and you’d better be nice to me.” The evil clown doll from Poltergiest, Anabelle, and also the My Buddy ripoff doll, Chucky, from Child’s Play. It is therefore no secret that Hollywood has played a big role in the phobia of dolls.
The fear of dolls (pediophobia) is classified under the more broad field of fear of humanoid figures (automatonophobia), and is closely related to the fear of puppets (Who wouldn’t be? Especially the old ventriloquist dummies.), pupaphobia.
Dolls made of porcelain, dolls made with human hair, dolls designed to have an almost identical face as the young lady who is playing with it, the list is almost endless. There is a great amount of lore behind dolls. One such tale is that spirits would latch onto a doll upon death, it is said that this was intentional so the loved ones could be with their loved one, for the rest of their natural lives.
Dolls, especially the haunted ones, are highly collectible, and can even be worth a tidy sum of money. The most expensive porcelain doll sold went for a whopping 400,000 USD. People, places, things, ideas; everything ages. Some things age more than others, even collectible dolls. This is where the Doll Hospital in Old Town Spring comes in. When a doll begins to deteriorate, eg. clothing and hair begins to break down and/or fall apart or out, or the face color begins to fade; the owner of the doll can bring it into the Doll Hospital, and get the doll restored by expert restoration technicians, who have even been called miracle workers.
When an old doll comes in, specifically one with a spirit attached to it, this can cause all kinds of hell. According to local lore in Old Town Spring, a mysterious package arrived at the hospital. Inside was an antique doll, with a note from the family requesting them to repair, and restore the doll for a sick family member. The doll itself was said to have been very old. Most likely made during the Imperial Age in Germany (1871 – 1918 CE). It has been said that the staff took immediate dislike of this doll, but it was when the restoration began that things began to become strange within the shop. It was told, that as a worker walked down stairs to get supplies she was suddenly pushed. She tumbled down the stairs, when she reached the bottom, she looked up, and there was no one there. The same day, as the face was being cleaned, she felt a sharp pain at the tip of her finger, as she touched the dolls mouth. When she checked her finger, it was bleeding. During the dolls tenure at the hospital, the doll would move about the store, and would be in a different location from where they had left her the evening before. Naturally, the finished the job in record time, to get rid of the doll.
Doll restoration is a passion of the Doll Hospital’s owner, and staff. There is an old maxim that states, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. This is the feeling among the crew and the owner of the Doll Hospital, regardless of whether or not a doll is haunted or possessed.
Haunted dolls have fascinated many people for a great many years, whether they got their fix from Hollywood, or a general fascination with them and the occult. Dolls have been found as far back as the Bronze Age, are they haunted too? Do dolls really possess malevolent spirits, or good spirits? To find some of these answers join us for one of our Ghost Tours in Old Town Spring, or a Ghost Hunt.
Written by John Allen
Edited by L. Thomas
Copyright Houston Ghost Tour 2020
Photos from Pixabay