by James Crotty
September 15, 1996
THE DOLL HOSPITAL
New York City,
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
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
box after box of them, stacked along two rooms' worth of walls,
to the ceiling. The hospital is a family operation, founded by Irving
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
remained unchanged: The New York Doll Hospital repairs and
and sells dolls. "We've never lost a patient," Chase says,
we don't bury our mistakes. One hundred percent success. How do
Jim Monk: Who are some of your bigger-named, well-known
Irving Chase: We've had at least several hundred
very important VIPs. For me to start going through them would be
Anybody that's anybody comes to the New York Doll Hospital,
are it. You go from Florida to Maine, I don't think you'll find
Jim Monk: People must be very happy when they get their
Irving Chase: Nobody grows up. We've had
men coming in here with their little monkeys and little teddy bears.
love him. He's been my buddy. I sleep with him." As a matter of
a young lady came in a couple of weeks ago. She was stunning,
And she brought her little monkey, and the head had come off. She
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,
I sleep with him." So I said, "What a lucky monkey this
Jim Monk: Do you have dolls of your own that you play
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
to each other and have very lengthy conversations, but I don't love
Jim Monk: Do any of your dolls talk back to
Irving Chase: Of course, all the time.
What do they say?
Irving Chase: They speak mostly in
Jim Monk: What do they say in
Irving Chase: They say, "Ich liebe dich. Ich will
spazieren gehen." They want to take a walk with
Michael Monk: Is Barbie banned from this
Irving Chase: No, I've got Barbies. If a serious doll
collector comes in looking for Barbies, I've got them.
Monk: Who are your favorite dolls?
Irving Chase: My wife and
my two daughters....
Jim Monk: I love it...
And my three girlfriends...
Jim Monk: Yeah, you've gotta have