Article from The South Bend Tribune, March 30, 1928
By Mildred M'Clave

Three Japanese Good Will Doll Ambassadors Are Welcomed Here

Standing in quaint dignity in their elaborately embroidered and painted costumes, three small dolls, messengers of good will from Japan, now in this city for a five days' visit, were officially received this morning at impressive ceremonies in the Senior High school auditorium by the students of Central Junior High school. The little figures are members of a group of 58 now touring the United States as an expression of friendship from the school children of Japan.

The program was opened by the presentation of both the American and Japanese flags by five Boy Scouts, George Bergus, George Vesey, Richard Young, Richard Uhl and Gerard McNabb, which was followed by the oath of allegiance to the American flag and singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by the students. Miss Helen Kenworthy, a teacher in Central Junior High, played the national anthem of Japan.

The story of the dolls was told by the Rev. Archibald McClure, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, who is chairman of the local committee on arrangements. Mr. McClure was introduced by P. D. Pointer, principal of the school, who acted as master of ceremonies.

About a year ago school children throughout the United States purchased and dressed dolls which were sent to Japan in a spirit of affection for the children of Japan. A number of these dolls were contributed by South Bend children.

So impressed were the Japanese children with the American dolls that as a return courtesy the 2,000,000 school children of that country gave money to a fund from which were purchased the 58 dolls now touring the United States and the material for their gowns, which were especially designed and dyed for the occasion.

The three Japanese doll ambassadors now in South Bend were introduced this morning by Miss Maribel Martin, 12-year-old student of the Junior High school of Mishawaka, who was born in Japan and who witnessed the ceremonies at the reception of the American doll ambassadors in Japan last year. Miss Martin's father, a missionary to Japan, is now on a furlough in Mishakawa.

In behalf of the students of the Central Junior High school, the dolls were received by Miss Margaret Small and the Japanese friendship song was sung by the entire student body.

Mayor Chester Montgomery received them in behalf of the city and Miss Helen Rysdorp, executive secretary of the Y.W.C.A., and member of the arrangements committee, and W. W. Borden, superintendent of schools, spoke briefly.

Addressing the students again, Mr. McClure outlined plans for a second project in which it is hoped thousands of American school children will engage. This movement will be an emblem of friendliness toward the children of Mexico as the exchange of dolls has been between the Japanese children and those of the United States. It is planned to have as many children as possible to secure school bags, a sample of which Mr. McClure displayed this morning, and fill them with at least 10 inexpensive gifts. These bags are intended to follow Lindbergh's recent trip to Mexico as ambassadors of good will and neighborliness from the American children. "To be good American citizens," said Mr. McClure, "is to be good neighbors." In addition to the gifts which the children will furnish the bags contain pictures of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Col. Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, Niagara Falls, the Liberty bell and photographs of two Mexican heroes.

The program was closed by the singing of the school song.

--Photo by Tribune Staff Photographer


Pictured above are three Japanese dolls, sent as messengers of friendliness and goodwill to the children of the United States by the school children of Japan, and some of those who took part in the reception of the dolls by the pupils of the Central Junior High school this morning. Standing, left to right, are Miss Maribel Martin, who introduced the dolls; the Rev. Archibald McClure, of the First Presbyterian church, who told the story of the little ambassadors; P. D. Pointer, principal of Central Junior High, who officiated at the ceremonies; Mayor Chester R. Montgomery, who received them on behalf of the city; Miss Helen Rysdorp, executive secretary of the Y.W.C.A., and a member of the committee; and Miss Margaret Small, who received the dolls on behalf of the student body of the school.

Maribel Martin Kilmartin, now in her 80s, provided the above article. Maribel is the girl standing on the far left-hand side of the above photograph.

Mrs. Kilmartin is one of the few people who witnessed both the arrival of the American Friendship Dolls in Japan and the arrival of the Japanese Friendship Dolls in America. She was born and grew up in Japan, where her father was a missionary and also a pioneer in teaching English using phonetics. Mrs. Kilmartin writes that she has "a vague memory of participating in a ceremony in Tokyo" to welcome the American Blue-eyed Dolls in 1927. When her parents were on a sabbatical (every seven years) in the U.S. in 1928, she participated in a ceremony to welcome the Japanese Friendship Dolls (described in the above article).

Thanks to Rosie Skiles for her valuable assistance on this web page.

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