Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas presence

This was Kim's idea actually.

I didn't know what I wanted to write about for today's blog, but whatever it was, I wanted it to be seasonal.

"Why don't you write about the kind of toys you got for Christmas as a child compared to what kids are getting today?" she suggested.

Hmmm. Not bad. Seasonal. Nostalgic. Current. Kim has always been my best editor. This one had potential.

The funny thing about most of the Christmas toys I got as a kid...I don't remember asking for. Remember, we're talking mid-1950's here, so I was probably asking for things like Red Ryder BB rifles (I never got one for fear of shooting my eye out) or Hopalong Cassidy pistols and holsters (I did get a Lone Ranger set of cap pistols, including a really bad red cowboy hat with white stitching — but no chaps).

I vaguely remember going to Hess's Department Store in Allentown, going up to the third floor and sitting on Santa's lap (uh-oh). That's where I got to ask for stuff.

Remember Tinkertoys?
I think my first bicycle (with trainer wheels) showed up at Christmas, even though it was winter and there was likely snow on the ground. Curiously, I actually don't remember asking for a bicycle, but maybe I did.

Other toys I never asked for turned out to be classic. Santa brought Tinkertoys one year, and that was of some casual interest for me. I'd build these creations that had no resemblance to reality and then ask my parents how they liked the airplane I just made. Yeah. Tinkertoys.

In the same vein, there were Lincoln Logs. I can't tell you how many cabins I built. They all looked the same.

Slinkys. Play-doh. Super balls (these were the toys my dad got into). Turns out there was a limit to how many times I could watch my Slinky walk down the stairs. Or reproduce the newspaper comics on my Play-doh before I maniacally stretched them into absurdist art.

Or plastic cinder blocks?
There were also plastic snap-together building blocks — they may have been a variation of Legos — that looked like cinder blocks. I'd put together something that looked like a one-room house, deconstruct it, then put it back together again. That was fun. For a while.

 I think that was the year I got a battery powered Remco Bulldog army tank that shot plastic shells. I created war scenes with my building blocks, then have the tank crash through the war-torn house, just like in the news reels I saw of World War II, which had ended just a decade or so earlier.

I don't know if there was a theory of child rearing behind these diversions. Both the Tinkertoys and the building blocks suggest the development of imagination, hand-eye coordination and creativity.

It was all pretty vocational, looking back on it. Maybe I could have become a carpenter or a brick mason. But I became a sportswriter instead, even though I never asked for a typewriter. Clearly, something went horribly wrong.

Looks real, huh? I refought World War II with this toy.
 The army tank could have sent me into a military career and the Lone Ranger pistols could have directed me into law enforcement (or cattle herding). I don't know.

Kim and I don't have children of our own, so our gift buying is limited to a couple of nieces. That usually has meant jewelry or personal grooming items. Girl stuff. Hard for me to relate.

But just looking around me, it appears kids today are getting iPhones and computers and other electronics that I could have never imagined back in my childhood. The skills needed to operate these devices are the skills they'll need in the real world, so in the end, I guess nothing has really changed.

We're still getting lost in the fun of it all.

What gifts didn't you ask for?

No comments:

Post a Comment