Betty Beggs, 125 Overhill, poses with Japanese dolls presented by Yamaha to the Beggs' motorcycle dealership. TOM DORSEY The Salina Journal A job well done Kansas' oldest motorcycle dealership rewarded with Japanese dolls By LINDA MOWERY-DENNING The Salina Journal B etty Beggs isn't sure how many years the Japanese dolls have arrived at the family's Salina business. But she knows it has been awhile. After all, Beggs Yamaha Cycleland, 129 S. Fourth, is the oldest Yamaha motorcycle dealership in Kansas. It is among the 25 oldest in the United States. The dolls come from company headquarters in Japan, a thank you for a job well done. "A doll comes close to Christmas, and the guys hide it until we open our presents," Beggs said. She has about 35. Most are hidden away in storage because Beggs worries about dust and other environmental threats. In addition, the home she shares with her husband, state Rep. Carol Beggs, at 125 Overhill is not large enough for a major doll display. But Beggs, .who recently removed the dolls from their boxes for a photographer, still appreciates their workmanship. "They're just beautiful," she said. The dolls are made of a plastic that almost looks like porcelain. Their clothes are from wonderful silks in rich tones of red, blue and other colors. One doll is dressed in a white brocade kimono. There are geisha girls, Japanese warriors, even two Japanese American dolls with fluffy white dogs. "They're so intricate," said Beggs, pointing to the tiny hands on one doll and the accessories on another. "These aren't classified as dolls, at least the kind of dolls you play with. These are something to look at." A story accompanies each doll. A wooden tablet offers a tale in Japanese characters. A piece of paper tells the story in English. An example is "Goten Mari," the doll Beggs received in 1990. From her small hand hangs a ball on a string. According to the story: "Goten mari means diamond ball. Balls have been classified into types — those for play and those for decoration. With the advent of the Edo Era, Japanese girls played ball. Most of Goten mari have beautiful strings on them, and the ball is made of cotton." Carol Beggs has been a Yamaha dealer since 1962. His father was a mechanic and, as a young man, Beggs owned an Indian motorcycle, which are no longer manufactured. He and Betty were married in 1950. She worked as a telephone operator and later stayed at home to tend the couple's growing family. Betty Beggs now serves as secretary- treasurer of the family corporation. She can be fdhnd most days at the store, taking care of financial matters. Two sons also are involved in the business. "There are just the four of us," Betty Beggs said. "We've never really had any outside help." In 1973, she and Carol went to Japan for 10 days on a trip sponsored by Yamaha. They saw many sights, including the plant where the company makes its motorcycles and a retail store in Kyoto that specialized in Japanese dolls. "It was quite a trip," Betty Beggs said. Her dolls, she said, have been getting smaller with the years. The tallest is a foot or more. More recent models are shorter. Beggs isn't sure of a reason for the downsizing. She wonders whether uncertain economic times in Japan have played a role.
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