At age 87, Imelda Dickinson is on a mission to contribute
her talents and to help people for as long as she is able.
The Superior woman works in health care and spends
what time she can on a variety of hobbies, including
sewing, gardening and writing. She retired at 65, but missed
working, so she spends 35 hours a week in home health
care, taking care of family members.
She began sewing lap quilts for disabled veterans and gets them to people in need through local groups. And you can even find her online at ImeldaDickinson.com.
Dickinson enjoys sharing stories and last year published
“Personolly Yours,” a collection of poetry and prose that tells
stories through the eyes of a doll.
“It’s a collection of 44 stories that I started writing 25 years ago. I would dress up a doll for a story I wanted to tell. The first one was Emily Dickinson. My father was related to her.”
What Dickinson shares includes some fantasy, but is in large part true stories from her interesting life.
Dickinson is originally of Saint Cloud, Minn., one of 13 siblings who lived in a 14- room house. She speaks fondly of her family — particularly her parents. As a girl, she spent time climbing trees and listening to her parents play music. Her mother could play eight instruments, and music was valued in the family. The children would trade chickens for music lessons. “In earlier years, Mom and Dad started a western band,” Dickinson said. “It was in the depression years.”
Dickinson’s father was a hardworking man who loved his family. He was educated only through the fourth grade and helped raise his nine siblings. He grew up to build a family farm of his own and work full time. Dickinson’s mother was born on a farm.
When they had their own kids, farming continued to be an important part of their lives. Dickinson’s family lived on a 250-acre farm. They raised cows and tended a one-acre garden by the house. One of Dickinson’s chores was to clean the machine used to milk the cows. In the summer, she plucked potato buds and pulled weeds. She helped clean canning jars since her hands
were just the right size. The girls often helped their mother cook meals for the family and do laundry.
The family would play card games and listen to the radio. Some of their favorite programs were “The Lone Ranger,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Inner Sanctum.” Once they got a television, they would watch the “Lawrence Welk Show.”
When the circus arrived in town, Dickinson’s father would take them to see the show.
The children would go skating at a field near their house in the winter and check out books from the library.
As they grew, their parents allowed them to go to the Coliseum Dance Hall for dances — on the condition that one of the brothers would make sure they got home. Every Sunday, Dickinson’s family would attend church. The family needed two pews to sit together.
Dickinson grew to have her own family: three daughters, five grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and eight great great- grandchildren.
She was the first in her family to earn a high school education. She earned a master’s degree in natural health — the lessons her parents taught Dickinson on the farm took root and grew with her over the years. She loves fresh vegetables and sharing her knowledge with others. Healthy living is something she’s passionate about teaching. She has taught classes on vegetarian eating and handling stress.
Even today, when the weather allows, Dickinson can
be found growing peas, carrots and other vegetables, and tending her flowers. She continues to haul wood, rake leaves and shovel snow. “Be kind to one another and value friendships,” she advised. “Appreciate small things; they happen more often. I go to bed and thank God for another day of life.”
With an eye on the future, there is a second edition in the works titled “Personolly Yours, Too.” Dickinson is still working on it and looks forward to sharing more stories and adventures.
“Dollies” have long inspired Imelda Dickinson of Superior.
They’ve inspired her to stitch wardrobes that match their personalities to give away, and they’ve inspired her to tell her stories in poetry and prose.
Her own dollies reflect her long-ago desire to be a ballerina.
And most recently, dollies inspired the 87-year-old to become a first-time published author with the release of “Personolly Yours.”
“It’s a collection of 44 stories that I started writing 25 years ago,” Dickinson said. “I would dress up a doll for a story I wanted to tell. The first one was Emily Dickinson. My father was related to her,” a cousin.
The stories cover topics such as love, family, forgiveness, tragedy, the Great Lakes, adoption, animals, holidays, laughter, music, America and the sky.
“The stories are 99 percent true,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson said her inspiration came from family and life experiences.
“All my brothers had a doll,” Dickinson said. “My brother (Frank) was a captain on the ore boats and so he always had her in the crow’s nest — so it talks about the Great Lakes.”
Dickinson said she never imagined her brother Frank, a “manly-man” would ever want a doll, but no one dared mention it as the doll looked out from the crow’s nest.
“It talks about music because my mother was raised in a very musical family. She could play eight instruments and she didn’t know how to read a note.”
Dickinson said her brothers and sisters were all very musical.
“I wanted to learn, but I wouldn’t carry a dead chicken to the nun’s house, so I didn’t get my lessons,” she said.
Dickinson was a reluctant author because the stories are very personal, she said.
“I give the dollies to family, and later friends; then my daughter Molly said I should publish,” Dickinson said. “I said I really don’t know if I should. This is very personal to have my words out there for everyone to read. The stories are very personal. She said ‘all the more reason.'”
When she decided to publish, Dickinson said getting published wasn’t easy. Publishers either wanted a lot of money to self-publish or they wanted her to get an agent. She finally decided to self-publish with Amazon.
“I was glad I decided to publish,” Dickinson said. “I didn’t have the reservations I thought I would have. Everyone who has a family can relate to this book; that’s why I’m glad I decided to publish.”
She said that reviews are starting to come in and she’s pleased people like the book.
“If you like long poetry … similar to Emily Dickinson style, you will love this book,” Brad Saint George wrote in a review on amazon.com. “Imelda spent decades giving away custom, unique dolls to her friends and family. Each doll tells a story, some sad, some happy, but all interesting and well told.”
Dickinson said she’s even considering starting a second book, “Personolly Yours Too” and has 13 people lined up who would like their stories told.
“Everyone has a story,” Dickinson said.
“You don’t really have to grow up reading my book,” Dickinson said.
In addition to Amazon, she said she has a few copies on consignment at Zenith Bookstore, 308 N. Central Entrance, Duluth. But to get copies of the books with images of the dolls, contact her through her website at imeldadickinson.com. Those are the only books that come with images of her customized dolls, Dickinson said.
Original article: http://www.superiortelegram.com/entertainment/4379018-doll-poetic-tale