Nobody Dies Here (video)
The story of an idyllic little hospital, where the patients are undemanding and healing is a family affair
You can’t go to this hospital if you break a leg or arm. But if your doll gets hurt, you can take it here.
This is the New York Doll Hospital, and for over a hundred years it has been healing the world’s sick and tattered dolls.
It was a family business that began in Germany, as a beauty parlor. When times got hard at the turn of the century, the shop quickly morphed into a hospital; it swapped people and hair for porcelain and wigs.
The “doctors” have healed everything from dolls that poop, to a porcelain head some two feet around.
Irving Chais, grandson of the founder, is the current owner of the hospital, located on the Upper East Side, at Lexington Avenue and 61st Street.
Every morning Chais arrives at the small shop, coffee in hand, and climbs slowly to the second floor. With a flip of a switch, the hospital is open and ready for business.
Limbs and torsos hang off of shelves while doll heads sit in boxes, forgotten.
But the store has charms. It tells a story, the history of the doll, a movement from porcelain to plastic.
Chais has been witness to that movement. He has been bringing dolls back to life for over 70 years, and insists his routine never gets old.
For a doll doctor, it’s not about the toys or the stuffed animals—it’s about making people happy.
“Its not a funny business, this is serious business,” Chais says. “People bring in their teddy bear they’ve had for 20 years, and it’s falling apart, and they don’t want it changed, we can restore it.”
The New York Doll Hospital, 787 Lexington Ave., New York, NY. Tel: 212-838-7527