- Title: USA: New York Doll Hospital gives beloved dolls and toys a new lease on life
- Date: 6th April 2007
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRVING CHAISE, OWNER OF THE NEW YORK DOLL HOSPITAL, SAYING: "They don't have any charm, any feeling, any quality. They're just produced to accrue the bottom line. Years ago in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, they came out with lovely dolls like the Ana Durbin, Shirley Temple, Snoozey, Howdy Doody, these all had a name, had a character. They were warm, today they're just dolls that's it. They all look alike, just like spaghetti."
- Embargoed: 21st April 2007 13:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVAA1R3TRK5ZLFMB42WK9E8LT79T
- Story Text: The New York doll hospital is not your average emergency room. In fact, looking around you might think you took a wrong turn and arrived at the morgue. But rest assured, the piles of doll heads, limbs and torsos are all here to revive anyone's wounded best friend.
Irving Chaise, the hospital's proprietor and "Chief Surgeon," takes pride in his work, saying he can bring any doll back from the dead and even create a clone if necessary.
"I usually can identify any doll as to the age, the manufacturer, the name of the people who made it, the material it's made of. If it has value, I can tell you if it doesn't have value I'll tell you, I can tell you probably everything. Because that's what I'm doing, I'm performing surgery on dolls and on teddy bears almost 70 years," said Chaise.
Fixing dolls isn't a cheap endeavour. Prices can range anywhere from several dollars to about 1 thousand U.S. dollars (USD). One customer brought a friend from her childhood who is suffering from a broken leg to see if Chaise could help. The price for repairing the fractured limb: 375 USD. Chaise explains that the reconstruction process isn't always as simple as restringing the elastic. If limbs are broken and need to be entirely reconstructed, the process is involved and requires the precision of a highly skilled surgeon.
While Chaise loves his work helping dollies from around the world, he does lament that dolls just aren't what they used to be.
"They don't have any charm, any feeling, any quality. They're just produced to accrue the bottom line. Years ago in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, they came out with lovely dolls like the Ana Durbin, Shirley Temple, Snoozey, Howdy Doody, these all had a name, had a character. They were warm, today they're just dolls that's it. They all look alike, just like spaghetti," said Chaise.
Chaise's family has been in the Doll Hospital business since 1900. He didn't think he'd go into the family business, but he joined the Hospital staff upon his mother's request when he returned from his tour of duty in the U.S. Army in 1946.
Over the years, Chaise says he's managed to trim down the time it takes to fix a doll. He claims that he's cut down what used to take his father 25 minutes, to a mere 12 minutes. It's all part of being a professional, he says.
While every day at the Hospital is different, Chaise says business is steady as ever. With repeat clients coming back, celebrities like Dustin Hoffman bringing their kids in and occasional museum work, he has no fear that fixing dolls won't go out of style any time soon. Chaise now works with his daughter, who someday will take over the Hospital's reigns. But for now, he says customers are praying the 81-year-old will live a long life and continue doing what he does so well.
"It makes me feel terrific, lots of customers will embrace me and kiss me. They say 'I pray for you everyday that you should live long and keep doing the same work.' I get lots of compliments. People are thrilled for me to be around. I got a call this morning, 'You still there? Oh wonderful, I'm so happy you're still there. I gotta bring my teddy bear in. Remember I brought it in 35 years ago and you fixed it,'" said Chaise.
He doesn't remember, but Chaise says this is a typical phone call. "Dolls are like family," so it's only natural to make sure an ailing family member is getting the best care possible.
A quirky story.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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