Toys, Toys, Toys Everywhere

Pearl Harris

A few weeks before Christmas, I went shopping for gifts for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They all want toys for Christmas, so I went to Toys R Us and Wal-Mart. Well, of course, I was over whelmed with all the toys in the stores. I didn’t know what most of them were – all these action toys and electronic stuff. I just never realized how much “stuff” that parents and grandparents had to choose from.

When my boys were growing up it was bicycles, train sets, Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey pistols and holsters — or maybe some army stuff. I don’t remember getting but 3 toys all toll from Santa Clause. I remember a baby doll. It was’nt a “Mi-Lo baby doll’ though. Then I got a little red wagon – not big enough to ride in but I pulled my doll in it. And there was a wind-up metal motorcycle that went round and round. Mostly we got fruit, candy and nuts. But we always had something to play with.

My dad would pick up a rock — preferably a round one — and wrap twine around it to make a ball for us to hit. The bat was a 1×4 with a handle shaped at the bottom. I’m sure if we had been hit in the head it would have injured us. Maybe I was hit and just don’t remember it. Then we had a stick with a cross piece at the bottom and used it to roll a metal rim around in the yard. We would see who could roll it the longest without the metal rim falling to the ground.

My daddy was a good “whittler”. He would take a limb and whittle out a top. He would put a nail through it and wrap string around it and spin it. Oh yes, I finally  do remember getting a wind-up toy once. My parents would make us kites to fly in the spring when the wind blew. There were no paper bags back then – everything that we bought at the store was wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. They saved all the paper and twine. I can just see my mother smoothing every crease out of the paper and carefully folding it up. Then she would wrap all the twine in a big ball. They used this paper to put on a wooden frame to make the kites and used the twine for the string with a rag tail. They flew very well too.

My dad was a carpenter and wallpapered walls for people. He received their wallpaper books – a great big sample sheet with a border to match. They were like getting a Sears-Roebuck catalog. The paper was so pretty. Our walls were just wood. When the books were out of date we would get to use the paper to make things. We covered boxes – but mostly we made playhouses and furniture out of them. You could do wonders with them and the paste he cooked up on the stove to hang the paper with. Then for the houses we could cut out paper dolls out of the Sears catalog. We used only the colored pages. I guess you know what the rough pages were used for!

We had sand all in the yard — or dirt — and we would make mud pies and shape animals out of that. If we weren’t doing chores — we were busy using what we had and creating something out of nothing. But we had a good time and I am thankful for the things we learned while growing up in that era. I’m hoping all the children got the toys they wanted for Christmas. I’m going back into the stores and see if there are any left. It looked as if there were enough toys in those 2 stores for all the children to get plenty.

Oh yes, when I pass schoolyards and people’s yards, I see all those toys on the playground. When I was in grammar school we only had home made swings and played marbles and jacks on the sidewalk. Only I couldn’t play jacks because we had to sit on the sidewalk and Mama said I got my “pink sateen” bloomers too dirty. I guess we only had a pair — and one wash day a week. But somehow the school bought a “merry-go-round”. It was the push it yourself kind. When you got it going you jumped on it and rode till it stopped. But the catch was you had to pay a “nickel” to ride on it. And guess who didn’t have a nickel?

I’m sure some of you who read this have fond memories of your childhood. It was a good childhood and I am “thankful for the memories”. Oh yes, there was one other toy we had that I can’t figure out just how it was made. It was an empty spool of thread — there was a notch at one side and a small square piece of soap on the other end. We wound it up and it rolled like a tractor. It must have been a rubber band, but I don’t know whether we had rubber bands or not. If anyone remembers how it was made I’d like to hear from you. The end of the spool was notched.


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