This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 12, 2008: The babies showed up on craigslist at 1:26 p.m., May 6. " ...from glowing cheeks to the tips of ten tiny toes. Arms and legs have soft baby creases and folds. He has sparkling brown eyes and brown hair and the cutest little smile.
She sleeps with open mouth. My 'twins' are yours for $60 firm cash price. Will meet within St. Charles County."
Doris May included color and black and white photos of the little porcelain boy and girl that rest in frozen play on a cream popcorn blanket. She's never named them. But they live among other happy babies and pretty, petticoat clad girls in the doll room of her Wentzville home.
At least for now.
"I am giving up my beloved collection of dolls and collectibles to put money into a travel account for visits to see my new grandbaby who lives in California," May posted along with the photos under the collectibles section of craigslist.
Don't get the wrong idea. May's not needy. The 61-year-old lives with her husband in a home in the country, where he tinkers with his tractor and harvests his garden, and she scrapbooks in her Amish-themed room and stays active with her church.
No, the retirees aren't broke and they're not going broke. Like many, however, they are feeling the constriction of rising costs -- food, gas, bills, health care. And so May decided she'd do something, however small, to adjust.
"I'm kind of going through my mind and thinking, what can I go without the easiest?" she said.
First, she sold a four-foot dollhouse. May's not sure it's regret she's now feeling about selling it, but she does notice the empty spot where it sat.
Then she listed the twins. The Ashton Drake porcelain dolls didn't actually come as a set, but the two strawberry blonds got together after May found them about eight years ago at a garage sale.
When she saw them, May looked at her husband, Dick, her eyes full of tears.
"And he says, 'go ahead.'"
They were so childlike, with little toes that turned in.
"And they remind me of having children around, I suppose."
May has two teenage grandkids living in St. Charles, so it's been years since babies have been around. Then, five months ago, May's son and daughter-in-law in California had a baby boy. Gogi, as her grandkids call her, spent a week with Tyler recently but mostly watches him change each day over the internet.
For their trips out to see him, May didn't want to draw from the savings she and her husband, a retired tech specialist with McDonald Douglas, have worked so hard for. With the economy, she thinks, who knows what can happen next? So she put the dolls on craigslist.
"You know," she said, "things are things. There's a lot more important than that."
The Mays have cut down on extra errand running, Dick May said. But they won't cut down on driving to St. Charles for their granddaughter's on-stage performances or to see their grandson. So far, no one has contacted her about buying the dolls.
Regardless, she plans on selling them, and then others, giving up her porcelain babies for a little time with a real one.