Lesley Seminars Photography Atelier
Karen Davis | About the Work
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When we were small, my younger sister, Cheryl, had a set of four mechanical dolls. She called them the McCann Family. They were a thinly disguised version of the Davis family. There was a boy doll, girl doll, man and woman doll. The Davis family had a mother, father, and two girls. Cheryl decided that she was “Tom McCann,” the boy doll. I think she liked the idea of being the spunky and adventurous child. I was, “Mary Ann McCann,” the girl doll. The man and woman were our parents, “Mother” and “Father” McCann.
Cheryl often had Mother say to Tom, “Mary Ann is wonderful,” and “Why can’t you be like your sister, Mary Ann?” (If I had been the one writing the script, Mother would say, “My Tom is so gifted” and, “Mary Ann is average.”)
At first Tom could stand on his own. Later he lost his balance all the time. Cheryl diagnosed Tom with Polio. She fitted him with crutches and braces just like hers. (Cheryl was born with spina bifida.)
Tom thought Mother McCann disliked having a disabled child. He was a chipper kid but he always felt bad about Mother’s attitude. Father usually sided with Mother. “Listen to your Mother.” One day Father McCann’s leg, which had been loose, fell off. Cheryl taped the leg back on as a prosthesis. Tom felt that after he became an amputee, Father was a lot more understanding about his son.
When Cheryl died two years ago, I inherited the McCann Family and all their possessions. It has taken most of my lifetime to appreciate the courage and imagination of my sister. Placing the McCanns on stage – directing their actions, brings me back to our childhood and to memories of an extraordinary woman.