The Case of the Broken Doll


Her name was Cynthia, and I named her after the daughter of my cousin from Iowa. I was fascinated by Cynthia because she was adopted and didn’t look like any of my other cousins. Cynthia was a light brown/brunette, and my doll matched her hair color, so Cynthia it was.

The naming of the dolls happened when my sister and I both received new dolls for Christmas. My sister named her doll after another cousin’s child because her Deborah had dark hair just like Rachel’s doll.


We played with them both inside and outside the house. Their arms and legs could be moved, but their bodies were firm and not very cuddly. In time, their hair began to fall out – no doubt in part because we were not always gentle in our play!

One day I came across Cynthia lying beside the open garage door. She looked like she’d been dropped in a hurry, but no one was around. To my horror, I discovered that her entire foot was missing. It looked like it had been chopped off. The edges of the foot were jagged and I was sure someone had taken a knife to her foot.


It’s true that we had some Saint Bernard dogs around, but there was no way, I reasoned, that a bitten-off leg by a dog would leave that kind of mark.

Of course, I asked everyone. Nobody, but nobody knew what had happened to Cynthia’s leg.

I asked my brother, the family tease, but he just laughed and denied knowing anything at all. I went to my mama, who seemed to think it was of little concern. She was not able to find the culprit, either (but I’m not sure how hard she even tried.)

I still own Cynthia, and my girls used to play with her. From time to time, other kids who visit play with Cynthia. She’s not very attractive now because she’s missing a lot of hair. Plus, she’s missing a foot. Of course, they want to know what happened to the poor dolly’s foot. Obviously, I can’t tell them because I don’t know.


It’s been over half a century since I discovered Cynthia’s missing foot. To this day, nobody knows what took place on that fateful day when she lost her foot or where the remnants are of that leg.

I wonder who’s not telling . . . ?

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