Tales of long-ago girls featured at tea party

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Feb. 18, 2013
Maeve and Sienna, both 4 and from Lisbon, peruse a book between sips of 'tea.' Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Maeve and Sienna, both 4 and from Lisbon, peruse a book between sips of 'tea.' Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Cameran, 10, of Griswold, brought a friend from Florida to the Slater Library’s American Girl tea party. The two met in an antique shop; the age of the friend, Mary Ann, is uncertain, and since she’s made of porcelain, she’s not divulging that statistic. “I don’t have any of the American Girl dolls, so I brought Mary Ann,” Cameran explained. “I’m keeping a log of where she’s been since I got her. So far she’s been in Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut.”

Cameran was one of almost 60 local girls who attended the Feb. 16 tea party - an annual event that fills up almost instantly after registration opens, according to library director Meg Vantine. “My daughter’s 17 and she came here when she was 4 or 5,” she said. “It’s always full.”

Party finery was the dress code of the day, as the girls and their dolls enjoyed a repast of “tea” (actually fruit punch) and cookies at formally-set tables. Library volunteers circulated between the rows with china teapots to keep cups filled, as moms looked on from the wall along the children’s room access ramp.

After the refreshments, the girls gathered on the floor to listen to Southbury storyteller Joyce Marie Rayno spin tales about several of the American Girl historical characters: Josefina, who grew up on a rancho in 19th-century New Mexico; Edwardian schoolgirl Samantha; and Addy, an escaped African-American slave traveling to freedom during the Civil War.

One of Rayno’s stories related the arrival of Josefina’s aunt, Tia Dolores, and her piano. “Look, there’s the piano in the wagon,” she said, pointing over the girls’ heads to the room’s far corner. Heads turned, and more than one girl got up to see if the piano was really there.

Rayno brought along her complete collection of the historical-figure American Girl dolls, each of whom represents an era of American history described in accompanying historical-fiction books. She said she began collecting the dolls even before she became a professional storyteller.

Each of the girls attending went home with a white long-stemmed rose and a door prize. Many of the door prizes were hand-made doll-size quilts or knitted doll ponchos, skirts and hats, made by one of the library’s volunteers. Rayno's appearance was sponsored by the Graustein Memorial Fund.

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