Dec. 25, 1958.
Alice Chamlis was just a few months old that Christmas morning, but Santa Claus brought her a baby doll for her very first Christmas. Fifty-four years later, Chamlis still has that first doll, along with about 2,000 more.
For the past 30 years, she has collected dolls. So many dolls, that each room of her grandmother’s old house is full of dolls.
She said all five rooms are full of dolls, and that she has loved dolls since she was a little girl.
Today, Alice Chamlis is Alice Brown. She and her husband, Michael, along with all their dolls, live on Main Street in Ragland.
“When I started working, I was able to buy dolls,” Brown said. “People gave me dolls. People have sold me their entire collection of dolls. When my aunt passed away, I received her doll collection.”
Brown has turned her grandparent’s old home into a museum. She calls it Alice’s Wonderland.
The most unique doll Brown has is one made of wood and hand-carved that she has had for over 20 years.
“It used to have jointed arms and legs, but through the years as children have played with it, it has gotten torn up,” she said. “I found the doll in Fairhope at an antique mall, and I can just imagine an elderly man sitting and carving that doll out.”
The dolls Brown has collected through the years come in many different shapes and sizes — from tiny, one-inch dolls to life-sized dolls, and many others in between.
Brown has traveled throughout the Southeast, and is always looking to purchase dolls wherever she goes.
Dolls living in “Alice’s Wonderland” have come from as far away as Hawaii and Germany. Michael has an aunt who is German, and she has given Alice several dolls. Michael and Alice do not have any children, but Alice said these dolls are her children.
There are some dolls worth more than $200 each.
Retired educator Margaret Green is a close friend to Alice, and because she is a doll collector herself, loves touring “Alice’s Wonderland.”
“I thoroughly enjoying touring the museum,” Green said. “But the house she and Michael live in is a museum as well.
“She has a Gone With The Wind collection, I Love Lucy collection just to name a couple. She has a Barbie tree in here that stays up year round with over 100 ornaments on it. She has a White House room and also has Hallmark ornaments.”
Green said Michael is also a collector of airplanes, John Deere tractors and motorcycles.
When Alice sees her dolls, she is able to visualize her grandmother, Ollie Chamlis.
“I remember her playing dolls with me,” Alice said. “As a kid growing up, I would set the dolls up, and I was their schoolteacher. I even had a nursery, and then we would go outside and play. I would make them mud pies.”
A visit to “Alice’s Wonderland” is a must for anyone in Ragland. As Margaret Green said, “You will not believe it until you see it.”