Twenty-eight years ago, George Suey, prompted by his wife, Stella, began crafting a dollhouse. But when Stella died two years later, George didn’t have the heart to finish the project. The dollhouse was stored under a sheet in the basement until after his death in 2012.
In 2017, George and Stella’s daughters, Pat Suey and Sandy Suey of Jermyn, decided to uncover the dollhouse and finish what their parents started.
The completed masterpiece will be raffled off during St. John’s Russian Orthodox Church’s 28th annual Christmas Bazaar, scheduled for Nov. 8-10 at St. John’s Center, 701 Hill St., Mayfield. The event also offers homemade ethnic food (including halupki, pierogie, cabbage and noodles, fish sandwiches, city chicken, soups, spanakopita and more), opportunities to get a head start on holiday shopping, other raffle items and more. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Suey sisters grew up attending St. John’s Russian Orthodox Church, and they run Baba’s Boutique during the bazaar.
“My aunt used to run it, and then it was just one table and called ‘Baba’s Attic.’ Then it grew,’” Pat Suey said. “Sandy and I took it over 15 years ago, after Aunt Helen died.”
“We inherited it,” she added with a smile.
The sisters collect donations throughout the year in preparation for Baba’s Boutique. They have everything from Christmas decorations to household items, to toys and unique gifts.
Baba’s Boutique, along with St. John’s Bookstore, will open in the basement of St. John’s Center. Two floors will hold more than 25 vendors, food and raffles. This year, St. John’s has a filled chest freezer, 55-inch television, Cuisinart coffee center and more available to win.
Tickets for the Russian raffle will be available all weekend, and drawings for prizes, including the Suey dollhouse, will take place on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m.
Sandy and Pat Suey shared that they hope a child will be able to enjoy the dollhouse and eventually pass it on to the next generation.
They admitted they fought the urge to keep it themselves. Working on it brought them closer together and was a means of honoring their parents. Now in their retirement with recent health issues, however, they decided to donate the dollhouse. It is their desire that it benefit the church that has meant so much to them.
Bazaar brings people together
According to Father John Sorochka, the bazaar is all about uniting as family.
“Everyone comes together,” Sorochka said. “The whole idea is the family working together. That is what I said when I came here 49 years ago. When you are happy and laughing, I am happy with you. When you’re crying, I’m crying with you. We support each other. This is a family.”
Sorochka plans to be among the volunteers hard at work in St. John’s Center’s kitchen days in advance of the bazaar. Parishioners come in to help leading up to the event, and they plan to make more than 15,000 pierogies to sell. They make breads and baked goods, set up for the event and donate prizes for the raffle.
Everyone does his or her part to bring each aspect of the event together – just like the pieces of a dollhouse.
Finishing the project
“Dad had all the stuff [for the dollhouse] made but didn’t finish it,” Sandy Suey said. “Patty and I would pull a piece out and say ‘Where do you think this goes?’ Eventually we figured it out. The dollhouse was our father’s design. He didn’t follow a kit or anything. We still don’t know how he did it. Something that meticulous? He had no special tools. The main frame was basic, but all the siding pieces, the roof and little pieces he made somehow.”
“I’m sorry now that we never asked him how he did it.” Pat Suey added.
The sisters shared that their parents worked on the dollhouse together during the course of their day. They purchased miniatures for it at a local dollhouse store and online. The structure, roof, trim, stairs, banister and the front porch lattice were handmade by George.
“He had pieces notched, so that when you put it in, it fit perfectly,” Pat Suey said.
Finishing the dollhouse wasn’t always easy. The sisters had to solve issues with the front door and find the right screws for the hinges. The dollhouse steps had to be fixed and curtains and rugs were made by hand. Creativity and ingenuity were needed to make flower pots and window boxes.
“We just finished what our parents started,” Sandy said. “My mom was the architect and Dad was the craftsman. My mother had a vision and was very crafty. ... So, when they started this dollhouse, my mother came up with the idea, and Dad made it happen.”
The sisters used scrapbook paper for wallpaper by cutting a template. They thoughtfully placed furnishings and miniatures, making sure every detail looked just right, even down to a little miniature boy who was placed with his bicycle and puppy on the front porch.
“I know my parents would be proud of how it turned out,” Pat Suey said with tears in her eyes. “We’ve tried to do something they would be happy with.”