You won’t find many beaches, thongs or Cubans here in North Florida, but you will find about everything else.
Like giant rocking chairs,
and bigger-ass trucks,
Things for the lawn, like sheds
and other things for the lawn (sold alongside western wear and hay).
Of course you’d find golf carts
but you’d also find peanuts!
and 50 lb. bags of potatos
You’d also find people sleeping in tents
and maybe tee-pees (although I think the tee pee is just to attract tourists)
Of course there’d be people selling crafts, like on most highway, but I bet you wouldn’t expect to find the only hand-made Ragged Ann and Andy dolls in the country, would ya?
I pulled over immediately when I saw this sign
Not just because I hadn’t seen a Raggedy Ann doll in maybe twenty years
but because I’d never seen someone selling so many clowns in their front yard before.
I’d also never seen anyone decorate their house with a Raggedy Ann and Andy theme before.
Meet the lovely Viona Tew,
founder and owner of this little roadside company.
She’s out here selling these hand made dolls every single day on her car, except for when it rains.
She loves her country
and is particularly fond of Tinkerbell.
She told me her life story, like most people I encounter. I won’t go into the details of this amazing woman’s life, but I will tell you that she couldn’t afford her own doll as a child, so she taught herself how to make them. She’s whole-heartedly committed to making sure everyone who wants a doll gets a doll and that the dolls are treated with respect. For instance, when Viona was approached by a sorority from Gainesville, whose 6ft tall Raggedy Ann mascot doll was soiled beyond repair with beer and God knows what else, she sewed them a brand new 8ft tall one. Any guesses what happened to the old doll? Instead of burning it, like the sorority sisters asked, Viona buried it in her backyard because “she deserved a proper burial.”
Viona loves publicity as much as she loves these dolls. She sells them online, although not many people visit her website. This could be because her computer blew up, according to her. It might also have something to do with the fact that she’s not so internet-savy. “Since google done changed it’s name, I’m not so sure how to sell my dolls on the internet.” Believe it or not, for a minute I thought google might have actually changed their name since I’d seen Hot Tub Time Machine the night before, and that’s coincidentally what happened in that movie. Then I realized I’d just checked gmail from my phone not five minutes earlier and that I probably shouldn’t rely on sources on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, even if they’re positive google done changed their name.
If you want to buy a doll or just check out Viona’s adorable website, here’s the link.
She looks a little older now and has longer hair
But she’s still willing to sew special order giant dolls (4ft to 8 ft. tall)
and has started incorporating some diversity into her doll-making
Like Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls of color.
I know a lot of my stories are a mix of true and make-believe, but every bit of this story is true. I’m just not creative enough to make someone like Viona up.