Day Four - Davina Rush
Davina Rush has been a writer and artist for most of her life, inspired by authors such as Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and C.S. Lewis. She has written several books and short stories with plans to write and illustrate many more.
You can catch up with all of Davina's spooky creations on social media and at her website at
Learn all about the terrifying tale of Robert the Doll in this excerpt from Davina’s latest coloring book
Haunted Dolls; the coloring book of nightmares
Plus scroll to the bottom of the page for a wonderful picture of Robert himself all ready for you to print off and colour.
When I was a little girl, around four or five-years-old, I had a doll as tall as I was, with blonde hair and blue eyes, just like me. I absolutely adored her. We played together for hours on end and I would talk to her as if she were a real friend, even sharing clothes with her as we wore the same size. Many children had such dolls, large or small, that they bonded
closely with in their youngest years. This is such a common and innocent thing all around the world—a child and their doll. However, some instances are a bit more unusual and, in rare cases, even scary.
At the age of four, Robert Eugene Otto (Gene) of Key West Florida was presented with such a doll. It was a very special gift, handcrafted with fabric and stuffed with wood shavings, having traveled all the way from Germany. Gene loved his new companion, naming him Robert, after himself, and even giving him one of his own outfits; the sailor suit that he still wears to this day. The two spent hours together as Gene took him everywhere, playing and bonding within the special magic of imagination.
At first, Gene’s parents only noted the small instances, such as Gene blaming the doll for things that he had gotten into trouble for; overturned furniture, broken toys— the usual childhood mischief. They didn’t think overmuch about these incidents, discounting it as mere child’s play, until things took a much darker turn. The parents claimed that on more than one occasion they awoke to Gene screaming in the night and that, after racing to the child’s room, they would find young Gene struggling to hold the doll pinned to the floor. This, of course, gave them cause to worry and so they tried to put some distance between the two, though it proved almost impossible to keep them apart.
Gene eventually grew up, maintaining his relationship with “Robert” for the entirety of his life, taking care of the doll until his own death in 1974. After his passing, Eugene Otto’s childhood home, known as “The Artist’s House”, was purchased by Myrtle Reuter. With the acquisition of the home Ms. Reuter also inherited an unexpected tenant–Robert the doll, who had been tucked away in the attic, though not as you might think. Rather than being packed away in storage, it would be more accurate to say that he was ‘housed’ in the attic, as the space had been set up with small furniture proportionate to the doll with a modest collection of toys for him to play with. Apparently, Otto’s wife had not been comfortable with the doll, so Otto had set up the room in the attic to keep both his wife and Robert happy. Reuter found the doll in the attic room and chose to keep him for a time, moving him downstairs, not yet realizing what she was in for. She claimed that Robert soon began moving around the house on his own, from room to room, and that she would sometimes hear a child giggling in the halls. She tolerated the incidents for a time, but after twenty years of endless and disturbing shenanigans, Reuter finally decided to donate Robert to a museum in 1994. “The Artist’s House”, which Eugene had grown up in and lived in as an adult with the notorious doll, is still standing at 534 Eaton Street in Key West Florida and is open to the public as a bed and breakfast where you can even sleep in Robert’s old room—if you dare.
Robert the doll is now over 100 years old. He remains at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West Florida, where he is carefully preserved in a glass case. Visitors from all over the world travel to the museum every day to get a look at the haunted toy, and some people even write letters to him. Most often these letters contain pleading apologies from people who feel that they must have offended Robert in some way when they visited, having encountered great amounts of misfortune after their encounter with the doll. He has been blamed for many things, from car accidents and broken bones, to job loss and divorce. Apparently, he does not tolerate being disrespected.
Robert the doll has been featured on numerous tv show documentaries, telling the story of his relationship with the Otto’s, as well as the unusual occurrences that have happened since he came to the museum and within his previous home on Eaton Street. One such documentary tells the story of a young museum curator who was so afraid of the doll that she quit her job immediately after an experience with him. She explained that the doll had recently been checked, cleaned and put safely back into his display case the evening before. Then, the very next morning, when she arrived at work, she noticed that Robert’s feet were quite dirty and that there were small footprints all around the glass case. She then claimed to have heard a tap on the glass case and a giggle from inside. Already Terrified, the curator turned to look at the doll just in time to see him move. The terrified woman ran from the room and vowed never to return.
Not only has Robert the doll been featured in many documentaries, he has also inspired some very well-known movie characters. The most memorable cinema likeness is said to be that of the notorious Chucky doll. Though Robert the doll did not murder anyone, he did terrify his owners, forever taunting and toying with them and anyone else who came near. But maybe he really didn’t mean any harm with his mischievous ways, and if he could speak, perhaps he might simply ask—“Wanna Play?”
P.s. don’t forget to share your colouring creation with Davina as she
always loves seeing her work brought to life
Today's church door...
All Saints, Great Fransham
All Saints dates from the 13th century but evidence of earlier activity on the site has been uncovered in the churchyard in the form of early Saxon pottery fragments. The church is simple in design with plain glass windows that bath it in light, giving it a wonderfully airy feel.