Three themes drove Missouri tourism in the mid-twentieth century: roads, retailers, and recreation. Paved roads provided new freedom—no longer did tourists have to conform to rail schedules and routes—if they had the means to own a car and a job that afforded leisure time, they could go where and when they pleased. Retailers, together with local civic organizations, promoted local historic sites and created festivals with enough historical substance to be educational and plenty of events to entertain. And recreational sites, such as Missouri’s rivers, lakes, and parks, made Missouri look fun enough to justify a family vacation. The Mississippi River town of Hannibal capitalized on these trends and reinvented itself as a tourist destination for fans of Mark Twain’s fiction and those longing for what they imagined to be a bucolic rural past.
The Eubank dolls were created by Wilma Eubank Pulliam and handmade in Hannibal for sale to tourists who were drawn from Route 66 by Mark Twain Days. Ranging from 9 to 11 inches, these hand-molded, hand-painted, and hand-dressed folk dolls depict Twain in his trademark white suit; Tom Sawyer fresh from whitewashing the fence; Huck Finn returning from fishing on the river, Aunt Polly with her wire-rimmed spectacles, and Becky Thatcher with her sunbonnet. Indeed, Twain and his cast of characters were the original Eubank creations, and their appeal could hardly be more direct. In 1950, Wilma and Albert Pulliam moved to Branson, Missouri, to open to Eubank Doll House shop, but the manufacture of the dolls remained in Hannibal.
Categories: Arts & Culture
Creator: Pulliam, Wilma Eubank
Subject: Clemens, Samuel Langhorne; Mark Twain Days
Contributing Institution: United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc.