Cathy Kates is a local celebrity who graced the morning airwaves for many years on B105 in Duluth, as well as appearing in countless television ads. Recently, she ended up on quite a journey to be reunited with a priceless childhood heirloom: a Raggedy Ann-style doll that was made by her beloved Grandma Luisa.

Grandma Luisa would make dolls when Cathy was a little girl and she did things that were unique. For example, she didn’t use patterns and would instead place markings on the doll to make sure it turned out perfect. Those markings would often remain visible on the doll once it was completed.

Another thing she did was dress the dolls with the extra material she had from making dresses for the family, including Cathy’s mother Aida. So, the doll Cathy had as a child had been dressed in a memorable pattern, as it was also a dress for Cathy’s mom.

While she had this doll for years, well into adulthood in fact, she ultimately became separated from it through the course of life, which included moving into different residences. The doll had become nothing more than a childhood memory.

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Fast-forward to 2021 and the Duluth Junk Hunt, which took place in November at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Cathy, her husband “Homie” and daughter Kylee were there looking around when she spotted something very familiar. On one of the tables was a Raggedy Ann style doll that brought back warm feelings of nostalgia. This doll had markings just like her Grandma Luisa used when she made dolls. Cathy’s first reaction was that certainly other crafty people used similar markings, so that alone would make it nothing more than a neat coincidence.

That was when she noticed what the doll was wearing. Could it really be? Yes, this Raggedy Ann-style doll was wearing a dress that was instantly familiar and one that triggered a bittersweet, emotional response. This was her mom’s dress and this was Cathy’s long-lost doll. Cathy was not only flooded with childhood memories of her time with the special doll, but also with fond memories and her amazing mom Aida, who has since passed.

She then raced to show her husband and daughter the doll and to tell him the story. She had been reunited with her family heirloom, at the Duluth Junk Hunt of all places, and the doll was for sale for just $10! Then, for reasons she simply cannot fathom in hindsight, she put the doll back on the table and didn’t buy it. Perhaps her emotions got the best of her and she wasn’t thinking clearly. It was one of those moments in life you later wish you could do differently.

Cathy Kates
Cathy Kates beloved childhood doll

She left the Duluth Junk Hunt while also leaving her beloved doll behind. As one would expect, she quickly regretted the decision. Although the event was over, Cathy quickly thereafter went on a mission to find the vendor and get her doll back.

She didn’t know the name of the vendor, all she knew was that it was a man working the table that day. Cathy also remembered from their conversation that the man, who she estimated to be in his 40’s, had been working the table because his wife was ill that day and could not be there.

She took that information and urgently asked for help on social media, while also reaching out to the Duluth Junk Hunt. After a series of social media messages and texts from other vendors at the show, she at finally found out  who the vendor was selling her doll at the Duluth Junk Hunt. Her name was Lori and her phone number was made available.

Cathy reached out to Lori, who it turns out had purchased the doll at a rummage sale, and told her about the journey she’d been on to locate it. Upon hearing this, Lori revealed that she had originally bought that Raggedy Ann-style doll because it seemed to have a story to tell.

Well, our story thankfully has a happy ending. When Cathy asked if she could at long-last purchase the well-traveled Raggedy Ann- style doll, Lori said absolutely not. She would happily return Cathy’s childhood doll to her free of charge.

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