Mrs. Scrap & Dorothy DuRose
Mrs Scrap is a doll designed and hand-crafted by Dorothy Murdock DuRose (1909-1999) of Pottersville, Warren County, New York. It's the first doll I collected for our Folk Art Collection back in 1990.
Mrs. Scrap is a rag doll with a cloth flour sack body, and dressed in remnants from sewing projects and bits of old lace. She was inspired by Molly, a doll made for Dorothy by her father, and by the many useful items once made out of cloth flour sacks and grain bags. She would make and sell these homemade dolls at tag sales at her home in Pottersville.
Dorothy DuRose was also known in her community in northern Warren County as the Rural Poet. She regularly contributed articles to the local newspaper, writing poetry and stories of her life in the southern Adirondack mountains. These stories fondly recall spring cleaning at Grandmother Higley’s farm; her Irish father, a master of many trades and fiddler at night; the beauty of nature and the miracle of life; and a hard respect for things old.
Here's a poem, Use It Up, Make It Do, written by Dorothy DuRose, the Rural Poet, speaking of simpler times, and a philosophy that lives in her doll, Mrs. Scrap:
Use it up, make it do.
Mend a sock, fix the lock
Make a stew, out of what? Oh, this and that,
With what you’ve got. Fill ‘em up, make it do.
Don’t throw away the apple peels, make some jell
The kids will yell it was swell.
Save the grease, make some soap,
Hard or soft, stir it well. Make it do.
What about the broken chair? Well, use some glue,
You can use it for a spare.
Mix the odds and ends of paint, it might turn out a lovely hue.
Make a cushion for a chair,
Sew it well so it will wear. Make it do.
Turn a hem, now and then, up or down, press it well.
Patch a hole nice and neat, rather on the knee or seat. Make it do.
Save the buttons off the shirt, now the shirt is just a rag.
We can always use a rag: rags, too have a special bag.
Those were famous words we heard, in the days when folks made do.
Days we long for now and then when we had to make do.
I met Dorothy in the early years of my work in the Adirondacks, learning about the folklife of the region. She contributed wholeheartedly to our 1987 New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)-funded folk art project called Women in the Adirondacks. She made a point of introducing this young folklorist to her friends in the border area of Warren and Essex Counties. She helped me find and interview old-school knitters, tatters, quilters, and we both liked nothing better than driving around the waters and mountains of the Adirondacks, off to visit and meet another new friend to share the region's traditions.
In 1992, she also presented to children in our workshop series, Growing Up in the North Country. Since then, her doll has been displayed in several exhibitions, including If Only They Could Talk: Dolls, Stories, and the Splrit of Doll Making in 2000, and Celebrating Women's Hands & Spirits in 2014.
Mrs. Scrap is currently on display at the TAUNY Center in Canton, New York, in our exhibition, Folk Arts All Around Us, on view February 13 to October 23, 2021.
Mrs. Scrap and the Folk Art Collection can be viewed online at http://nyheritage.org/collections/folk-art-and-artist-collection.
Poetry and other writings of Dorothy DuRose, the Rural Poet, are archived in the Folklife Collections at Crandall Public Library.