By Carolyn Marnon – “My mother was very imaginative and creative and crafty,” says Wayne resident Ginger Cook. It was a great surprise that when her mother bought a dollhouse 40 years ago, she wasn’t able to put it together.
When Ginger was staying with her mom in Florida in 1980, the dollhouse lay unassembled with 100s of pieces in disarray. Ginger’s husband, Paul, took it upon himself to build the dollhouse that was purchased as a kit.
It took some time, but Paul was able to build the dollhouse, get the rooms divided, glue on the shingles tediously one by one, and then add a porch. By the time he finished, the young Cook family was moving to Germany, and the dollhouse came along with their household goods.
While in Germany for five years, the little house got painted, had wallpaper installed, and then the hard part, the furniture, was tackled. The majority of the furniture in this tiny residence was handmade by Paul in one-inch scale where an item is measured in feet and then reduce to that size in inches. Paul made beds, tables, a Queen Anne cabinet and a baby’s cradle that rocks. One of the most interesting pieces of furniture, says Ginger, is the 1950’s-style refrigerator in the kitchen.
An antique coat rack in the living room was duplicated from one in Paul’s grandmother’s house. Ginger made the cushions for the kitchen chairs that Paul made along with the kitchen table. Toothpicks from Cracker Barrel were used for the chair spindles, while spindles that appear on the bed were turned on Paul’s small lathe. His first piece of furniture is also his favorite piece, a Lear table.
The 1940’s era decorated dollhouse takes up permanent space in a side window of the Cook home after it’s years of travel to and from Germany (twice in fact). It has adorned the bay window of an antiques store in Glendale, Kentucky where Paul made full-size furniture to order. It also was proudly on display at the Wayne Public Library about three years ago.
Ginger compares the dollhouse to a Pandora bracelet, always adding to it and keeping it. Although they love dollhouses, none of their four children, the youngest being 49, have had dollhouses. Ginger had a metal one when she was small.
As if one dollhouse could not keep them busy enough, they found a wrecked dollhouse in someone’s trash along the street that is being fixed up for a little girl at their church. They also found another dollhouse kit in a box on the shelf at Value World that they have slowly been tackling.
Paul crafts the furniture while Ginger adds the tiny homemade touches that make a house a home-curtains, bedspreads, chair cushions, and rugs made from tapestry fabric. She says her mom did do one thing for the dollhouse: she crocheted pillows. The Cook’s don’t seem to rest. They have a butterfly garden in their backyard and Ginger also raises butterflies from butterfly eggs left on the plants. Paul has a dulcimer that he built. They attend to a pond with a fairy garden nearby. Paul has a Model A and a Boat Tail Speedster on a 1931 frame he is building. They recently showed the Model A at a Greenfield Village car festival. The very creative Cooks keep moving and making while Ginger’s mother looks on from heaven. Perhaps her spirit roams the miniature house made with love by Ginger and Paul that she was able to see completed before her death.