Framingham’s Joan Goldberg shares her passion for collecting dolls
FRAMINGHAM — Joan Goldberg’s love for collecting dolls was sparked at a young age.
Goldberg, who has called Framingham home for most of her life, recalled her father bringing her a walker doll — a doll that has legs connected in a way that when one leg moves the other will move in a walking fashion — when she was about 7 years old.
While that particular doll’s feet have worn over time, Goldberg’s love and passion for doll collecting has not. The first doll she received from her father is displayed prominently among others in her collection at her apartment at The Branches in Framingham. She has several more that are in storage.
“I’ve had these dolls for a long time,” she said. “I was quite young. I love my dolls.”
A new opportunity
Dolls have long been a part of Goldberg’s life, and even briefly became her profession several years ago. Goldberg spent the bulk of her career as a preschool teacher at Temple Beth Am in Framingham, where she prided herself on teaching the young students colors and shapes. She retired after more than 40 years.
But she wasn’t out of work long.
Walking through the Natick Mall with her husband Bill several years ago, they stopped at a table outside the American Girl store.
“That was the end,” Goldberg said with a laugh.
Goldberg chatted with the crew about her love for dolls. That conversation ended with her joining the staff as a salesperson at the popular store.
Goldberg led the Bitty Baby department at Natick’s American Girl store. The department is dedicated to the brand’s “Bittys” or youngest dolls. Oftentimes, Goldberg could be found sitting on the floor surrounded by young children telling them the story of each doll. Goldberg was branded with the nickname the “Bitty Queen.”
“I enjoyed working with the little ones,” she said.
A mutual bond
While at the store, Goldberg met Colleen Kodjian, now the program director at The Branches. Kodjian worked with hospice patients at another senior housing facility when she met Goldberg and the American Girl store became a respite during particularly challenging days.
“I’d have some really hard days,” said Kodjian. “It always cheered me up and Joan cheered me up. …It’s that childlike spirit. American Girl has always been my happy space.”
Kodjian, who has collected American Girl dolls since 1994, and Goldberg combined have more than 60 American Girl dolls.
“Of course the conversation always came back to dolls,” said Kodjian. “It’s a mutual bond we have.”
Goldberg’s dolls continue to bring her joy, and while she has slowed down in her collecting, she will always remain an enthusiast.
“I will never be done,” said Goldberg.