Skip to content

The Story of Samantha

Posted in Uncategorized

When I was a little girl, there was only one thing I wanted in the entire world:

samanthadollface

Of course, there was no way anyone in my family was buying me this little money sucker. Because after you got the doll, you had to buy her books. And her other clothes. And her furniture. And clothes for me to dress just like her. And the cardboard box we would be living in under a bridge once we’d spent all our money on this goddamn doll.

Late last year, when money from The Boss started rolling in, I was like, “I’m totally going to buy myself Samantha for Christmas!” I went to the website, only to find that Samantha had been discontinued. I couldn’t get my Samantha. She was just gone. And prices for her on eBay? Ridiculous.

Last Thursday, I was in Copper Harbor, MI. There’s a little candy store on the main drag. I don’t know if it has a name, the sign out front just says “candy store.” I love going there, because they play music from the ’50s and the whole place is decorated with old toys and there is so much candy. Here is me, in the store, before the greatest thing in my entire life happened:

IMG_20140626_132431821

My purse wasn’t open because I was shoplifting, I swear to god. It’s just open because I got my phone out for this picture.

Anyway, after I got this picture, I immediately turned to my left and saw her. There was Samantha, in her Christmas dress (my favorite of all her dresses), sitting on a little chair on the floor below a display of M&M’s.

I freaked out. I ran over and immediately hugged her. I rank this moment as one of my top ten best feelings ever. I had never even touched an American Girl doll before, so here I was, shamelessly hugging this random doll being used for decoration in a store. I realized it was a little silly, so I put her down and continued with my shopping.

Then a thought occurred to me. A hope I daren’t hope. A dream I might never realize.

I went to the counter with my purchases and asked the owner if she would consider selling me the doll. “I won’t be offended if you say no, but I would hate myself if I left without asking. I wanted her so much as a kid, and we just didn’t have the money.”

She asked me to show her which doll I was talking about. I was thinking it must have belonged to one of her kids or something, and she wouldn’t be able to part with it out of sentimental value. I reasoned that I could always buy another American Girl and live with my disappointment. But this was Samantha.

She picked it up, looked at it, and said, “It’s yours.”

I will never be able to duplicate the noise I made as I said thank you. I had tears in my eyes. “How much do you want for her?” I had four hundred dollars in cash in my wallet and I would have forked it over gladly and spent the rest of my vacation eating beans.

“No, you can just have it,” she said. “It’s worth more to make somebody happy.”

This woman got so many hugs, let me tell you. Samantha filled this weird, doll-shaped hole in my childhood. Some of you are probably thinking, “Oh, that’s your childhood trauma? First world problems.” Believe me, I recognize that if the greatest tragedy of my life was “I didn’t get an American Girl doll,” I have had it really easy. But nobody can control their emotions or what affects them how. My childhood self had a need that the awesome candy store lady was able to fill, like some childhood toy disappointment guardian angel. And when she gave me that doll, I felt like she was giving it to eight-year-old Jenny.

IMG_20140626_133622075_HDR

On Thursday, I will share all the ways I annoyed my trip mates with Samantha for the rest of the time we were up there.

54 Comments

  1. I know you don’t believe in this stuff and alk, but I’m still going to say that there is a special place in heaven for the candy store woman.

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  2. Ilex
    Ilex

    What a great story!

    And Samantha looks reeeelly familiar — she’s the American Girl doll my elder niece had. We used to flip through those catalogs together (while I fainted from the sticker shock). Now I’m going to have to rummage through their house this weekend and see if she’s still there somewhere.

    I hope John Denver is pleased to have a new doll in the house!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  3. Angelina
    Angelina

    That’s awesome. 😀 However I just keep imagining it coming to life in the middle of the night and tormenting you. Dolls have a special kind of creepiness to them.

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
    • Hane
      Hane

      NO THEY DON’T. 😉 Sorry, but I just can’t understand people who are automatically creeped out by dolls.

      August 13, 2014
      |Reply
  4. Christine
    Christine

    Ok, this legit made me tear up, because I know EXACTLY what you mean. My family struggled a bit when I was growing up, and we were firmly in the working class category. American Girl Dolls were something I could just never have. My parents would buy me all the books I wanted (which I am forever grateful for), but the dolls were just too much. I used to get the catalogs and just dream of all the pretty pretty things I’d buy if I could. This story make me very happy, and it makes 8 year old Christine very jealous. 🙂 Maybe someday I’ll come across an American Girl to call my own. Course, it’ll have to be Molly. I was totally a Molly girl.

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  5. DonnaF
    DonnaF

    I love this story. I bought Samantha for my daughter when she was little because she looked like Samantha. When she got older, she sold all her dolls. I should never have let her because now she has a little replica of herself who will be four this weekend and wants an American girl doll. Hang onto her!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  6. I love this story so much! Did you cry? I would have cried. I got a little choked just reading about this. How wonderful for you, and wonderful of that candy shop lady. Thanks for sharing – this definitely gave me a smile today. 🙂

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  7. AmyR
    AmyR

    That is so sweet! I still have my Samantha doll. I think I was about 12 when I got her: “too old to be playing with dolls” my mom thought. But I had wanted her since I was about 7. We were middle (maybe even upper-middle) class, but there was no way in hell my mom was shelling out $82 so her preteen daughter could have a dolly. But she and my stepdad were willing to pay me to do extra chores, and since my stepdad owned a used appliance store he always had off jobs he could pay me for. And I worked, and worked, and worked, and I earned enough to buy her! And I loved her. Still do. Somehow over the years I managed to acquire all her clothes too. (Most were purchased in my adult years.)

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, I get it. Samantha was/is awesome, and if you’re anything like me you’ll hide her existence from your daughter until she’s old enough in your mind to “appreciate” Samantha. I see girls going to American Girl Place with three or four dolls and I think, “you’ll never appreciate them like I did!”

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  8. Pansy Petal
    Pansy Petal

    I love stories like this. It brought tears to my eyes too. I know how you feel AND I know how the candy store lady felt too. It is very rewarding to find the perfect home for a special item. The happiness you experienced is worth so much more than the money she may have made. It is priceless. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Enjoy Samantha!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  9. Janine
    Janine

    Aww! What a great story. I had the Felicity doll as a kid, and my family was (is) HELLA broke so in retrospect I don’t even know how my parents managed it. But I loved that doll!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  10. Evaine
    Evaine

    *wiping eyes*

    Okay… THAT made my day. All the crappy news going around it’s beautiful that there are people like Candy Store Lady!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  11. Victoria
    Victoria

    Wow, bless that lady. I always wanted Samantha too (and her four-poster bed and hairbow collection and her pail lunch with the little plastic deviled eggs), but I never dared ask my mom, not only because of the cost but because at age nine I was already too old for a doll like that. (Fast forward to my late 20s, buying the Jem dolls I never owned on eBay)

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  12. Robin
    Robin

    See, this sort of thing makes me remember that a lot of people out there are just sincerely good. I have to remember stories like this at the worst of times, because the worst of times will eventually pass because there are good things out there.

    I also want to say that when you’re a child, not being able to afford the one thing you want the very most in the world is pretty traumatic. As children, we can’t process “if we buy this, we cannot afford to eat for a couple of days, and that’s kind of a big deal.” We only see that there’s a thing that we want more than anything, that other kids get, that we can’t have. I don’t think it’s trivial that this was so hard for you, and I think it’s amazing that this wonderful stranger was able to fulfill your childhood dream with just a few little words and a gift.

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
    • Teresa B.
      Teresa B.

      I remember seeing kids walk around with 3 or 4 American Girl dolls and we didn’t have the money to get even one! I envied them but a few years down the road realized that what our family had was worth more than a doll. However being able to fulfill a childhood dream even at 30 or 40 or even 50 is such an amazing feeling!

      July 6, 2014
      |Reply
  13. Jan
    Jan

    I detest dolls, always have, and my childhood was actively awful, and even I can feel how beautiful this story is. How wonderful, thank you for writing about it. Most people can use adult opportunities to comfort the child they were, and shouldn’t be made to feel like it’s silly or trivial.

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  14. Holeigh
    Holeigh

    Aww! My mom bought me Molly when I was really too young for her…I actually had the books before her, and adored those. I made the mistake of taking out her braids and she was never the same… my cousin had Samantha, and I think she still had her set up in her house as late as a few years ago. You see, she was a few years older and capable of taking good care of things.

    This story is fantastic, and I love that you found her. I hope my vacation later this month is half as satisfying as yours was!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
    • Arden
      Arden

      First thing Seven year old me did when I got my Kirsten was take her braids out so I feel ya lol

      But awww!!!! That’s a great story! Mad props to the candy store lady.

      July 10, 2014
      |Reply
  15. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    That is so sweet! What a nice lady!

    I also coveted American Girl dolls and Samantha was clearly the best. I never got one either. My seven-year-old begged for an American Girl doll for Christmas last year, and my in-laws actually got her one! One of the ones that you order to look like you, not one of the characters. Kids these days… so spoiled. LOL

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
    • frances
      frances

      oh jeez, a doll made to look exactly like you? that’s just nightmare fuel…

      July 2, 2014
      |Reply
  16. JordieBelle
    JordieBelle

    Such a happy story. The very specific act of kindness makes it even more special. 🙂

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  17. Promise
    Promise

    Omigod I was in love with Samantha, too! I used to pour over the catalog when it came in the mail, dreaming of having that doll and all her accoutrements. One of my aunts had given me a porcelain doll (which was still probably 1/4 the cost of one of those American Girl dolls) at one point and I would pretend it was Samantha’s friend. I had always vowed my future daughter would have one of these dolls one day and if she didn’t want Samantha, then I’d get Samantha and we’d play dolls with them together (because that’s totally something you can get away with as a mom). I, too, was massively disappointed that they’d discontinued this doll. Most of the early dolls have been and I think that is a huge mistake, because, honestly, I don’t like the current line-up nearly as much as Samantha, Felicity, Kirsten, and Molly (almost 20 years later and I still remember all of their names).

    Of course, this wasn’t the only ridiculously expensive toy I wanted and never got as a kid. For about six years in a row I’d ask Santa for just one thing: a Barbie Dream House. See, I knew my parents couldn’t afford it, but money’s no object to Santa. Perfect logic for a child. The fact that Santa never came through with a Barbie Dream House never caused my faith in him to waiver, though. I was one of those kids whose parents have to finally confess to. I was in freaking middle school at that point. Of course, looking back on this as an adult, I feel my parents’ pain at not being able to provide me with this toy.

    Then there’s my friend who has, at this point, purchased her 8 year old daughter 3 American Girl dolls, which, I’m sorry, is just silly. Especially since all 3 of the dolls look exactly the same to me.

    So, I said all that to say: I totally get it, Jenny, and I’m a little jealous, but just a little because you look so damned happy that I can’t be anything really but happy for you!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  18. Crannberry
    Crannberry

    I named my daughter Samantha after the American Girl! I was 7ish and my mom would read to me from an American Girl book every night, when we got to the Samantha series I was like, “That’s what I’ll name my child.” Twenty years later followed through. I wish I could share the picture I took of her holding the Meet Samantha book, it is adorable (I think to anyone – moms you know). My family was to poor to buy any of the dolls as well, but now in the cheesiest possible way I have my own Samantha.

    So happy for you! It is the greatest story!

    July 1, 2014
    |Reply
  19. frances
    frances

    when i was a kid i got the addie doll/set…mainly because i wanted to prove i wasn’t racist or something (she also had a rather compelling story all things considered). who was i proving it to? NO idea, although bringing her along on a trip to visit my grandfather did provide me with a cringeworthy memory of him casually remarking to me that “in [his] day, [they] called ’em [n-bomb]”.

    thanks, racist grandpa! even at the age of 7 i was aware of both the appellation and the taboo nature of the word!

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  20. Mitzy247
    Mitzy247

    I don’t think many people now would understand how huge it was for preteen girls in the late 80’s/early 90’s to have one of these dolls. They were a status symbol in some ways, the holy grail of girldom in my circle. I went everywhere with an American Girl ctatalogue for a year and a half before my parents bought me Samantha on my birthday. Of all of them, Samantha was the only one who seemed to be living life her own way and not caring how she “should” act. Molly was a close second, but I couldn’t stand Kirsten, even though that one was the most popular at the time because se was blonde (original three, people!). I still have Samantha, and she is indeed dressed in her Christmas dress and a pair of knee socks I stole from a cousin (long story…only time I ever stole something on purpose in my life). Husband thinks she’s creepy, but I love her still to his day and am secretly glad I only have boys who don’t want her so I don’t have to share.

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  21. Flo
    Flo

    Damned you Jenny for making me cry this early in the morning! But what a great story, I want to go find this woman and hug her myself. I have Samantha, I was an adult when they came out, but I fell in love with her too and my hubby bought her for me one Christmas just a couple of years after we were married. I just ordered Rebecca this week as my early birthday gift (Samantha needed a friend after all these years!), she’s supposed to be here tomorrow and I feel like a little kid waiting on the package. (“the Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin'”)

    I can’t wait to see the rest of the posts that go with this story…hee, hee, hee!

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  22. Lieke
    Lieke

    Aw, that’s a sweet story. What a nice lady! I actually got a little weepy.

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  23. Stella
    Stella

    Oh god, I hate dolls (I’m in the ‘creepy’ camp) but this was the best story. I’m so glad you finally got her!

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  24. That is so awesome! Candy store lady should be a character in a new story just to memorialize her. 🙂 I also wanted a Samantha doll desperately as a little girl.

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  25. Andrea
    Andrea

    WOW, Jenny, this story is amazing. I can’t believe people as nice as this woman exist in the universe.

    I also want to say that you look AMAZING in these photos! The hair, the makeup, that dress! But most of all you look incredibly happy! Seriously your face looks so vibrant. You must be feeling good!

    July 2, 2014
    |Reply
  26. I was super sad when they discontinued Samantha.
    I was lucky; I saw her when I was six in a friend’s catalog (I’m Canadian, and they weren’t really a thing there) and I fell in love. 100% completely in love. My parents didn’t want to just buy me a doll that was THAT expensive, though (Canadian dollar < US Dollar), so they made me a deal. If I could get straight A's in school, I could get her.
    No child anywhere has worked harder in school for that fucking doll than I did. I didn't get her until I was 12, because my parents couldn't really afford her until then, but the day I got her was pretty much ace. Getting the grades didn't matter to me anymore, I got those with ease; only she mattered.

    TL;DR What I'm saying is I feel your doll-love, because I totally have the same one, and I still (married, and 24) change her outfit for Christmas. I'm glad you found such a generous person to help fulfill your childhood want for Samantha, especially since she's been discontinued! ^.^

    July 3, 2014
    |Reply
    • Sorry, that should read, “I felt that no child anywhere had worked harder in school for that fucking doll than I did.” >.<

      July 3, 2014
      |Reply
  27. Tracy Chopyk
    Tracy Chopyk

    That was a wonderful story. I am so happy for you that you finally got Samantha. Thank you, Candy Store Lady for making a dream come true, and for making Jenny so happy !

    July 4, 2014
    |Reply
  28. Teresa
    Teresa

    What a beautiful experience! Thank you for sharing that. It really helps to put things in perspective, and reaffirms that there is still KINDNESS in humankind.

    July 4, 2014
    |Reply
  29. Debbie
    Debbie

    Absolutely love this post. The sheer joy shining from your face makes my heart squeeze a bit 🙂 I have to admit to being doll crazy (mainly Blythe) and I totally get where you are coming from 🙂

    July 5, 2014
    |Reply
  30. Lavender
    Lavender

    Aww.

    That’s such a beautiful story, Jen. Bless that nice lady. And congratulations on getting your childhood dream dolly. They can bring so much joy.

    I was a very lucky child. My family didn’t have much money and most of my toys were second-hand, but every Christmas my mother saved up and bought me the Disney princess doll of the year. My favourite of all time – to this day still – was Megara. I opened her on Christmas day and burst into tears of joy. She lived in a shoebox house I built for her and carried around, even out to the supermarket and school.

    Last year I took all my old dolls out of storage, and seeing Meg again was like seeing a best friend after 10 years apart. I couldn’t bear to put her back in the attic, so I put up some shelves in my bedroom for her and her friends to live. I’m now a 25 year old with her childhood Disney doll collection proudly on display!

    July 5, 2014
    |Reply
  31. Teresa B.
    Teresa B.

    That is the most awesome story. I too wanted Samantha SOO BAD when I was a kid but I just continued to drool over the magazines I got in the mail. I had more than enough Barbie to go around that I didn’t need the American Girl Samantha. I love that you have her though! 🙂

    July 6, 2014
    |Reply
  32. xebi
    xebi

    I’ve lived in the UK all my life, and as far as I know American Girls aren’t a thing here. But when I was little, my American relatives sent me one of the books for Christmas. It was ‘Samantha’s Surprise.’ This story kind of reminds me of that 🙂

    July 7, 2014
    |Reply
  33. Samantha was my AG too!!!! I loved them all, but I had a special place for Samantha. We couldn’t afford much but I got her for Christmas one year and I felt like the richest girl in the world!! I am SOOOOOO happy for you!!

    July 7, 2014
    |Reply
  34. I am so very happy for you. I was a Samantha girl, too.

    July 8, 2014
    |Reply
  35. Momagain
    Momagain

    My ex bought our daughter the American girl doll she wanted. But here’s the thing: he wouldnt let her bring it home. It had to stay at his house. Eventually, when she was an adult, he shipped it, and some accessories, which had been broken by a younger half sibling.

    It sat in my garage for a couple of years, last year she sold it on ebay. She wasnt allowed to love it, and then was just too angry at the poor thing.

    July 9, 2014
    |Reply
  36. Kate
    Kate

    This is wonderful. Samantha was always my favorite doll as a child (and she still is) – my grandmother got her for me as my parents didn’t have enough money. When I found out that they retired her a few years ago I wrote an email to the company (the gist of which was “I want to be able to get Samantha for my own daughter”), but that obviously was fairly fruitless. Sigh.

    I’m really really happy for you.

    July 10, 2014
    |Reply
  37. Billy T
    Billy T

    Your particular brand of weirdness so meshes with mine. I’d marry the shit out of you. 🙂

    July 10, 2014
    |Reply
  38. Rachel
    Rachel

    I felt I was reading my story except I wanted Felicity. My mom worked in Colonial Williamsburg so she seemed fitting. I think I’d pass out if someone just gave her to me. What a sweet story!

    July 11, 2014
    |Reply
  39. Mina
    Mina

    When I was eight, I wanted her so much. She was my favorite doll out of all in the series, so I was really surprised when I went to NYC to find that she was no longer there.

    I’m happy you got her. My Samantha was one of the most memorable toys I had in my childhood.

    That woman who gave her to you was awesome. This is the sweetest story I’ve ever read.

    July 28, 2014
    |Reply
  40. Alicia
    Alicia

    Samantha was my favorite too!

    I really wanted one and I told my mom ALL she had to get me was that doll, for like 3 Christmases in a row I said that.

    But I fear my mom felt this was a slippery slope because, as you said, outfits and the bed and her horse.

    But MAN I wanted that doll.

    September 18, 2014
    |Reply
  41. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    I’m not sure if it’s because you finally got your doll, or because there are actually people out there who are as nice as that lady in the candy shop. Whatever it was, I’m all choked up now.

    December 9, 2014
    |Reply
  42. Anon123
    Anon123

    (I got here from the link on 6/4/15, so replying waaaay after the fact, but still…)

    I *hated* dolls as a kid, but even I wanted (and could never have) an American Girl doll. I don’t know what it is about those things. Maybe in the catalogs, they use that same addictive ink that used to go on Magic: The Gathering cards. Who knows?

    My sister did eventually get an American Girl doll, and I pretended not to be vicariously thrilled. I totally get what you mean about the eight-year-old hole. And sure, it’s a #firstworldproblems, but just because it has a continuing impact on you also doesn’t mean it was the single worst thing to happen to you. Like, I was pretty unaffected by the few times I was hit (in a relatively minor fashion), but a memory of being refused a hug once? Still sucker-punches my gut. It’s weird and probably somewhat random what sticks with us from our childhoods. So being you being fixated on a doll doesn’t automatically make me think you suffered no trauma.

    I’m so glad this instance of an eight-year-old hole has a happy ending, though. The woman in the store is, as far as I’m concerned, a literal angel–i.e., someone who was in just the right place at just the right time to do something special for another person and did it.

    Now to go learn how your friends were a bad influence on your doll… 😛

    June 4, 2015
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *