|This is the story of how a young teenager from England left her family and everything familiar, to travel across the Ocean with her new husband and take up residence in a strange land called Indiana. And now, after many decades of Americanization, I have met and become captivated by this charming lady. Her name is Doris Klene.|
You may be more familiar with her nickname, Kareoke. She came to my Scanography Cubit and made a scan of one of her handmade dolls. That's when I decided I wanted to know more about her. I visited her website (click) and discovered she was born in England. Ever since then, when I read one of her posts, I hear it in my mind with a British accent. Try that, as you read her words.
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Q. Doris, I am happy that you have agreed to be in our Spotlight. Will you please start out by telling us where you're from?
Doris: Yes, I was born in Suffolk, England in 1926, I was the 14th of 15 children. There was only one younger than me, a sister, by two years. What's interesting is that I was born on my parents Silver wedding anniversary. My Mom was about to take the cake out of the oven (no pun intended).
Q. Ha-Ha!! That's a funny line! (I love Doris' sense of humor.) Have you any especially fond memories of your childhood that you can tell us about?
Doris: Christmas. Christmas was always wonderful in England. You never saw a Christmas tree anywhere before Christmas Day. They were delivered to your home on Christmas Eve, after nine o'clock. When you got up on Christmas morning there was the tree, all decorated with presents, streamers and candles, which were lit. The room was all decorated with paper chains, colored balls and streamers. It was always known that Santa did all the work while we were asleep, even though we made the paper chains for him and left them on the table when we went to bed. He also put your gifts at the foot of your bed, and if you were lucky enough to get a large gift it was tied to the bed rail where you slept. It was tradition in our family that at breakfast you exchanged gifts with each other. We all had our own eating places, so the small gifts were put by our places at the table.
Doris: In England, children started regular school when they were four. It did not matter what time of the year your birthday was - that was when you started. All through your school years the longest vacation you got was what we called August Bank Holiday, and that was three weeks in August.
You went to the Junior school until you were ten, then you went to the top school until you were fourteen. It did not matter when you turned fourteen - that's when you left school. Back then there was no graduation in the English schools. You were given a paper stating you had gone to school the required number of years, and then you went to work, unless you were a very high-average student and could afford to go to private school.
Q. And did you go to one of those private schools?
Doris: No, I did not. It was war time so I did not have the ability for further schooling, I left school at 14 and went to work in a sewing factory. We made the desert clothing for the service men, where every stitch had to be counted in order to keep the desert bugs out. Because it was war time, we had several nationalities stationed in our town of Bury St. Edmonds, mainly due to the fact we were surrounded by air bases.
Q. This must be the part where you met your husband. Tell us, please.
Doris: Every Saturday night the bases had dances, and they would send buses to the town escorted by the US security to drive us to the dance and back. Since I was only 17, I was only allowed to go if my elder sister went too. It was at one of these dances that I met Ralph, my husband. I loved to dance but he didn't, so we sat on the sidelines talking about our families. It was strange - my name is Doris Irene and he had twin sisters named Delores Ileen, and Dorothy Irene. The following Saturday he showed up at my parents house and told them he wanted to marry me. No, it was not that easy. My parents gave him a very hard time. No one in my family had married before they were 21 years old. But I got married at 18, and one year later I was on my way to the US on a ship named the Bridgeport. It took 14 days to get to a place called Indiana, which I had never heard of before the war. Don't ask how tough it was to leave everyone behind. I still don't know how I did it. I was very shy, so it was tough all around. It was like learning to live all over again, so many things were different.
Q. Really? What are some of the differences you encountered?
Doris: The day I arrived in Indiana, the family had gathered for the evening meal, and to meet me. That meal is in my mind today as it was back then. I had never seen corn on the cob, or fried chicken. The only thing I knew on the table was the mashed potatoes. And when people picked up the corn and stuck pins in the end and started eating it, then picked up the chicken in their hands to eat, I wanted to die. Yes, today I love it all.
Just to give another clue about how things were different, I went shopping with my Mother-in-law. We went to get sewing stuff. I asked for white cotton and she gives me cotton wool. I tried to explain that is not what I want, then said it was for sewing. She looked at me and said, "Oh, you want thread!" I never heard that before.
And what made it all even a little tougher was that I got pregnant right away. Don't ever say a woman cannot keep a secret. I never wrote and told anyone at home. I didn't want them to worry about me. They were told the day our daughter Sandra was born.
Doris: One of the hardest things to learn was the money. And spelling. And how some words mean different things.
Just between you and me, let me tell you the most embarrassing thing that happened. We had a dinner party at my house, and we were making arrangements to go to the State Fair in two days. Talking about how early we had to leave, Ralph's sister said, “will you wake up in time?" I just said, “No problem. I will have the milkman knock me up when he comes around 6:00.” There was stunned silence, then a lot of laughter and they explained what that meant in the States. In England, you can leave a note in the milk bottle that says "knock me up" and he just bangs on the door to wake you!
Q. Oh my! That WAS embarrassing! Don't worry, it will be our little secret. Now I think I'd like to talk about something different, something dear to your heart. Your poetry. You've written some really good poems, Doris.
Doris: I have always loved to write poetry. (Here's a link to Doris' Poetry Cubit) I write some for my friends when they are troubled, or hurting. The one on my homepage, "Learning to Cope," I wrote for a friend who lost his wife and he had just given up. After I wrote the poem he said he read it every day and started to believe it. Then two years ago he got remarried. To me that is the best reward of all.
I have poems published in three volumes of The National Library of Poetry. Best Poems of 1997 (Nature), The Colors of Thought (Backyard Friends) and The Brilliance of Night (Learning to Cope). I have had recognition from poetry.com and had a write up in the local paper.
Q. That's quite an accomplishment. Congratulations, and thanks for including the newspaper article with the write-up. Now, about your dolls, I have to ask you.....they all look as if they are meant to resemble specific people. I mean, did you actually try to make them look like someone you know? Each one has such distinct features.
Doris: Only in my mind. I started making dolls only after I had been making dress up clothes for my granddaughters. I made so many clothes I had lost count. Then one day the girls put on a show with those clothes. They wore maid costumes to wait on everyone. Then I was asked if I would make dolls and dress them in certain outfits. I decided I would do it. They did turn out very good, and I did it for many years. To this day, the clothes are handed down to other children in the family. They hold up pretty well because I made quality clothes. I knew they were bound to take a lot of stress.
Doris: No, I no longer sell my dolls. The main reason is because I no longer make them. I find that at 83, making my dolls is really much more work than I remember.
Q. May I ask you, Doris, what has life been like for you since those early awkward years in a new country?
Doris: Over the years the hardest thing for me to accept was the fact that every time I went home for a visit, they still had not forgiven me for leaving them. They still thought I should stay there. But now they have all passed away except my youngest sister, and I am still here with 4 children, 9 granddaughters and 25 great grandchildren. I have never regretted leaving, but it was the toughest thing I ever did.
My husband died from cancer in 1986.
One son and one daughter live in the same town, just a couple of blocks away from me. Two granddaughters live close by, but the rest are spread out. Four great granddaughters live close by and the rest are spread everywhere.
The one daughter that has been taking care of me sold her home a couple of years ago and visits from one to the other and totally loves it. I enjoy traveling too, and visit my son in Connecticut often. I also enjoy going to Vegas.
I spend a lot of the summer time working in my garden, and planting flowers in my mini-greenhouse in my plant room. I often spend computer time in Cubits, and Daves Garden. I also go to a chat room called 60+ where we are all great friends. Four years ago, 75 of us got together and went to Vegas for a three day stay. We had a blast. We also had a bash in Nashville, and in Florida. I also enjoy playing games in Pogo, and playing Poker for fun in PokerStars.net. Oh, and my name Kareoke came from the fact that for several years I went to local restaurant and sang in the karaoke contests. The restaurant closed up, so no more karaoke. ( No, I don't think I caused it!)
As for my accent, people say they detect it in certain words I say, but when I go home on vacation it comes back like I had never left
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This has been so much fun that I don't want it to stop. Doris has been a true joy to spend time with. And now, Doris has a special surprise for our readers.
Everyone who leaves a comment below will have their name entered in a drawing. On Sunday the 23rd of May, at Noon Eastern time, one name will be drawn randomly and the winner will receive one of Doris' beautiful handmade dolls. She has graciously offered to allow the winner to select the doll of his or her choice (with two exceptions), and she will cover the cost of mailing. In Doris' words, “I would gladly give any of the dolls except the Tall one and Kareoke, as they would be hard to mail. But any other doll is available. The bride and groom, those go as one.”
Doris is available to chat with right here on Who's Who Spotlight. Please leave her some comments, and come back on Sunday to see who will win the prize.