As a child in the 1960s, author Carl Feather traveled on vacation with his family through the Potomac Highlands, always stopping to shop for “genuine West Virginia” souvenirs at Doll’s Honeymooners Gifts in New Creek. “The Honeymoon’s Over: Selling Souvenirs on U.S. Route 50,” Feather’s nostalgic article about the Mineral County landmark and its proprietors, Carl and Margie Doll, appears in the current issue of GOLDENSEAL magazine.
In a perfect location to attract the tourism trade, Doll’s catered to the shopping whims of automobile travelers in the post-World War II era. In the article, the Dolls’ daughter, Carla Sue Brown, recalls that in the stand’s heyday, both sides of the highway often would be lined with cars of shoppers looking for the latest in fad merchandising—chenille bedspreads and robes, birdbaths, gazing balls and concrete lawn ornaments. According to Brown, other popular Doll’s mainstays included memo-pad holders, jewelry boxes, figurines carved from West Virginia coal, apple-jelly candy, and of course, scenic postcards.
Romney resident Betty Thompson, who went to work as a clerk at Doll’s in 1969, says, “It was good business back then. We’d have two clerks on Sunday, and Carl and Margie would be out there helping, too.”
Unfortunately for establishments like Doll’s, however, baby boomers’ attitudes about souvenirs are different that those of their parents. Today’s travelers seem to prefer T-shirts to nicknacks. In addition, the coming of Route 48—now known as Interstate 68—routed travelers away from the stand. These changes, combined with the arrival of mass merchandisers in the area, forced Doll’s Honeymooners Gifts to close in 1999 after more than 50 years in business.
“It was bittersweet,” Brown says of the closing. “There were people who made a big deal about it, yet they were people who lived in the neighborhood and never stopped by. They always went to Wal-Mart to buy their hunting licenses and supplies.”
A frequent GOLDENSEAL contributor, Feather traces his family roots to Preston and Tucker counties. He lives in northeastern Ohio where he is lifestyles editor of the Ashtabula Star-Beacon.
This issue of the magazine also includes several articles about quilting in West Virginia, a profile of the late Earl Franklin “Red” Henline, who long held a reputation as the finest fiddler in Upshur County, and expanded coverage of the upcoming 25th annual Vandalia Gathering folklife festival.
GOLDENSEAL is West Virginia’s magazine of traditional life and is a quarterly publication of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. It is available for $4.95 at Village Card Shop in Keyser or by calling (304) 558-0220, ext. 153.
Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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