Irvine Chase
by James Crotty
September 15, 1996

THE DOLL HOSPITAL



New York City, NY

t may go without saying that Irving Chase's New York Doll Hospital is one of a kind. Actually, it's something of a miracle that one even exists. The place is pretty much what its name suggests: a hospital, for dolls. Sick, broken, headless, limbless--dolls of all shapes and sizes, with all conceivable maladies. It doesn't look like a hospital, though; what it looks like is a mess. A mess of doll limbs and heads and eyeballs, box after box of them, stacked along two rooms' worth of walls, nearly to the ceiling. The hospital is a family operation, founded by Irving Chase's grandparents in 1900, taken over by his parents, and then, in 1946, by Irving himself. It has had three homes over the years but the mission has remained unchanged: The New York Doll Hospital repairs and restores, buys and sells dolls. "We've never lost a patient," Chase says, "and we don't bury our mistakes. One hundred percent success. How do you like that?"

INTERVIEW

Jim Monk: Who are some of your bigger-named, well-known clients?

Irving Chase: We've had at least several hundred well-known, very important VIPs. For me to start going through them would be impossible. Anybody that's anybody comes to the New York Doll Hospital, because we are it. You go from Florida to Maine, I don't think you'll find two.

Jim Monk: People must be very happy when they get their dolls back.

Irving Chase: Nobody grows up. We've had seventy-year-old men coming in here with their little monkeys and little teddy bears. "I love him. He's been my buddy. I sleep with him." As a matter of fact, a young lady came in a couple of weeks ago. She was stunning, beautiful. And she brought her little monkey, and the head had come off. She wanted the head put back on again. I said, "All right, I'll have it for you in a couple days." She says, "No, I have to have it now, because I sleep with him." So I said, "What a lucky monkey this is."

Jim Monk: Do you have dolls of your own that you play with?

Irving Chase: I'm not crazy about dolls. I like to work with them, I enjoy them, I appreciate them, I can understand them, we talk to each other and have very lengthy conversations, but I don't love dolls.

Jim Monk: Do any of your dolls talk back to you?

Irving Chase: Of course, all the time.

Jim Monk: What do they say?

Irving Chase: They speak mostly in German.

Jim Monk: What do they say in German?

Irving Chase: They say, "Ich liebe dich. Ich will spazieren gehen." They want to take a walk with me.

Michael Monk: Is Barbie banned from this shop?

Irving Chase: No, I've got Barbies. If a serious doll collector comes in looking for Barbies, I've got them.

Michael Monk: Who are your favorite dolls?

Irving Chase: My wife and my two daughters....

Jim Monk: I love it...

Irving Chase: And my three girlfriends...

Jim Monk: Yeah, you've gotta have three.





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