In addition to bathing beauty figurines, I also collect antique dolls. Sometimes I find a little treasure that fits into both. Inside an antique and slightly battered cardboard box labeled "Bathing Girl". . . .
is the little bathing girl herself, clad in her original brightly-striped knit bathing suit and matching cap, trimmed with silky bows. Marked "Heubach Kopplesdorf 250-17/0 Germany," and 6.5 inches tall, in her day, she was a rather inexpensive play doll, but sweet and pretty enough to catch a little girl's eye and win her heart. I could see a row of these bathing girls displayed among the lithographed tin sand pails and wood-handled fish nets in some little souvenir shop along a 1920s seaside boardwalk. Papa, Mama, and little Eloise are taking an leisurely evening stroll after dinner down the pier as the last rays of the setting sun glimmer red and orange over the lapping waves and the shop lights come on. Suddenly Eloise stops, pressing her slightly sunburned nose against the toy shop window. There stands the dearest little doll in the whole world! Dressed in a pretty striped bathing suit just like Eloise's, the doll has eyes as bright blue as the morning seaside sky, shining auburn curls, and is just the right size to fit into Eloise's pinafore pocket! Papa and Mama, noticing that Eloise has fallen behind, turn and see their daughter staring longingly at the little doll. They share an indulgent smile. After all, they are on holiday, Eloise is a good little girl, and the doll is not at all expensive. A few minutes later, Eloise, her sun-kissed cheeks even rosier, skips happily between her parents, smiling down at her new little companion.