PLAISTOW — It all started when 75-year-old Athalie Moulton of Plaistow went camping near Meredith, New Hampshire, four decades ago.
Although already married, Moulton fell in love again — but this time, with the small mouse-like faces of Annalee dolls.
"These kind of mice I don't mind," Moulton said. "It's the kind that come home from outside that I'm not fond of."
Dozens of 5-inch mice and a few child-like figurines from her collection are on display now at the Plaistow Public Library through the end of June.
Moulton said there are other types of Annalee dolls, like snails and Indians in a canoe. Some are as small as 3-inches, while others are much taller.
Moulton has collected more than 100 of the handmade figurines over the years. She bought most of the dolls herself, and received some as gifts.
The figures are performing various duties, like washing laundry in a basket, celebrating the Fourth of July and fishing.
Moulton said she owns several mice-like Annalee figurines that are special to her, because they display occupations or interests her family members have.
For instance, Moulton has a sailor mouse because her husband, brother, and stepson were all in the Navy.
She also has a baseball mouse for her youngest son who played the sport, a dentist mouse for her daughter who worked in a dentist's office, and a photographer mouse for her husband, a fan of photography.
In one of the library cases stands a particularly special mouse to Moulton — a carpenter. Moulton's husband, father-in-law and father were all in the profession.
Moulton said her father-in-law made furniture, her father built a house for the family in Haverhill and her husband did carpentry work around their current home. Moulton said the mouse doll "helps keep those memories alive so much."
Moulton said she has thought about selling the dolls, but would love to pass them down to her granddaughter.
"If Kayleigh likes them, I want her to have them," Moulton said.
Moulton said she was able to meet creator Annalee Thorndike before she died, and has a small mouse signed by her son when he took over the business.
"She was a lovely lady," Moulton said of Thorndike. "Anybody could go up to her and talk to her."
Although Moulton said she enjoyed saving up money all year to spend at the shop in Meredith, she stopped collecting recently.
The dolls lost "the specialness of them when they started to make them in China," she said.