Retro sock monkeys get a new look thanks to Hammond Library program

2010-12-22T00:00:00Z 2011-11-03T03:23:14Z Retro sock monkeys get a new look thanks to Hammond Library programBy Philip Potempa, 219.852.4327

They have been hanging around children's bedrooms and kid's toy boxes for many years.

But it wasn't until October that 9-year-old Melissa Godbolt of Hammond finally met and made her first sock monkey.

Godbolt was one of the more than a dozen children who participated in a special "create your own sock monkey" craft program at the Hayward Branch of the Hammond Public Library.

"I wanted to make mine different, so I made my monkey with blue stripes," said Godbolt, a fourth grader at St. John Bosco School.

Her dad, Doyle Godbolt, said he wasn't surprised to see his daughter's custom-crafted creation.

"She's always been pretty creative and she's already playing the guitar," he said. "So I can see how she'd be excited about a project like this one."

The sock monkey program began in early October, with the kids meeting weekly to work on their monkeys with the help of library volunteer and "sock monkey pro" Pat Kincaid and Sally Opolski, the youth services librarian, to assure all of the monkeys would be ready by Christmas.

"When you work on a monkey little by little, week by week, it's not hard it all,"  said Emily Doran, 9, also a fourth grader at St. John Bosco, who decided to make her sock monkey a "witch sock monkey," complete with a pointy nose and pointy chin.

By the time the children finished their monkeys at the beginning of November, they had a parade of colorful "close-knit" creatures to share with family and friends.

Mary Doran, Emily's mom, said she remembers sock monkeys from her own youth, but never realized they've were born out of bedroom sock drawers until she talked with librarian "Miss Sally."

Old-fashioned, handcrafted sock monkey dolls are traditionally made with Original Rockford Red Heel socks, which originated in Rockford, Ill., and are now owned and manufactured by Fox River Mills.

The red "re-enforced" heels of the socks, which form the monkey's lips and bottom, made the style of heavy knit "work sock" very popular after they were introduced in 1890 and from the company's earliest records, some of the first sock monkeys were created by crafty moms and grandmothers in the early 1900s.

"I never had a sock monkey when I was a little girl," Emily's mom Mary said. "So, I'm glad Emily got to make her own and now she'll have the memory and the monkey to keep forever."



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