Heart of Louisiana: Dolls

Heart of Louisiana: Dolls

DERIDDER, LA (WVUE) - One family passion for doll collecting is now turning heads at a parish museum in the town of Deridder.

It's a collection that includes almost every type of doll imaginable, and they number in the thousands.

More than a century ago, the timber industry discovered the huge pine trees that grew where the small city of Deridder now stands. It was timber and the railroad  that gave this town its economic spark.

"So we have lots of history on the sawmills, we have lots of history on the railroads, we have lots of history just about how Beauregard Parish evolved with the timber industry," said Misty Clanton.

The old railroad depot is now the parish museum. And tucked away in the back half of the building is an Impressive collection of dolls.

"I think they come in and expect to see a couple of dolls, but then it keeps going and the cases continue and they never expect to see 3,000 dolls," Clanton said.

The dolls were the personal collection of Lois and Albert Loftin, who grew their doll population over nearly a half-century.

Reporter: "Did she actually go to the places that these dolls represent?"

"Oh, yes indeed she went," said Ames Hanchey. "And if a doll tickled her fancy, so to speak, if she enjoyed looking at a doll and wanted it, she would purchase the doll."

Hanchey, who just retired, was a long-time tour guide here.

"Some of them go as far back as the mid-1800s, as a matter of fact," he said. "One of the dolls here is the second Barbie doll that was ever made."

You can take a virtual tour of the world as you stroll past these doll cases. There are the popular dolls, the cartoon characters, the large finely dressed collector pieces, the whimsical, and even something for the guys.

"And for me, it helps me to think back to my childhood, so I would like for people to come through to look at the dolls, to maybe reflect on to that happy moment in their childhood," Clantion said.

These dolls are one couple's lifelong passion. Three-thousand unique characters that now share their smiles with everyone who stops by the old town depot.

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