Ken Issues – Christmas 1968

I admit it.  I’ve had unresolved Ken issues dating at least as far back as Christmas of 1968. As promised in my earlier post about popular toys of 1961, I am following up.

I owned Barbie and her “modern cousin” whatever-that-means, Francie.  I had a case suitable to hold Barbie in the narrow reserved spot just her size, and the Barbie paraphernalia in the larger section. The case had a plastic handle and metal clasp. I usually shoved Francie in there amongst the clothing.

Ken, who I have recently learned actually has the last name “Carson”, is Barbie’s boyfriend. I did not have Ken.  But in order to truly pretend that Barbie had the lifestyle and all of the things that she deserved, she needed Ken.

After all, Ken was going to pick her up in the Barbie car, which I also did not have—to take her on their exciting dates. Shirtless, he’d accompany Barbie, with his buff abs, wearing his spiffy Bermuda swim trunks and sunglasses to the beach parties they’d attend. Clearly, Barbie’s friends would be envious. Most importantly, someday Barbie and Ken would marry and Francie could be the Maid of Honor.

As Christmas approached in early December of 1968, like many American children, I wrote my wish list in a letter to Santa Claus. My list consisted of one item: the Ken doll.

I got the notion that if I mailed the letter early, Santa would be sure to have the elves hard at work and my Ken doll would be wrapped and packed in the sleigh long before other kids placed their orders. Also, if I only asked for one thing, it made his job easier; no decision-making required.

I found an envelope, appropriated a stamp from the supply we had, and managed to mail the letter in a sidewalk mailbox. I didn’t think of details like a return address. No need. I’m sure I didn’t sign it with my last name. He knew me well enough by then, I was sure. Plus, that was a lot more writing.

It’s important to point out at this juncture that I did all of this without my parent’s knowledge. As the oldest child, I was doing my best to act more grown up and take some personal responsibility for my own destiny.

Christmas came and guess what I got?

No idea.  I cannot recall.

Guess what I didn’t get?


I was really upset. I asked for ONE thing! It wasn’t a pony or an in-ground swimming pool or a mansion or anything. Geez !

Well, I never got a Ken doll in the years that followed, but then I never asked again either. I was the kind of kid with a ‘tude about things like that. I had this self-defeating internal conversation that went something like this:

“So, I didn’t get a Ken doll.  Fine! I’m not asking for anything I really want EVER again because I’ll just be disappointed. Barbie can just become an old maid and she’ll live with Francie and they’ll be a couple of old spinsters without dates.”

There is a bright spot to this childhood trauma. I was finally able to move on and put the whole sordid episode behind me in 1995. More on that when I get there.

Then what happened?


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