A Toy Story, Part I

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood involve the toys I played with. Now my parents weren’t well off by any stretch of the imagination, but we kids always had plenty of toys to play with. From the deep cardboard box at the Willow Branch Road farmhouse to the old wooden trunk at the house by the football field to the other assorted boxes, shelves, and other storage places, we were blessed with playthings. 

One of the first toys I remember was Tinker Toys. Tinker Toys came in a canister and included long and short wooden dowels along with wooden wheels with holes for the dowels. You could build almost anything with them, but I wonder how many kids got their eyes poked or dowels up their noses and had to go to the emergency room. Definitely not up to today’s safety standards. We managed to survive them, though.

What other toys do I remember?  I liked to collect Cracker Jack toys, especially little dolls. One that I especially liked was a clown that I managed to lose in the backyard. I searched for days and never found it. It made me so sad to lose that little clown.
Toys can be a source of frustration for parents who find them scattered all over the house even long after the kids have outgrown them. Even worse is stepping on a tiny toy with your bare feet.  Ever stepped on a Lego in the dark? 
Children need toys to help them play, and they are good at making ordinary items into toys.  Store-bought toys often go unnoticed in favor of simple household items. My kids enjoyed playing with kitchen items in a bottom cabinet drawer.  Now my grandkids do.
What about you?  What were your favorite toys as a child?

#vintagetoys #growingupineasttexas #crackerjack #tinkertoys #1960s

Random memories from the James House

Here are some things I may or may not have mentioned in previous posts:

  • Turtle soup. The neighbor kids once showed me and Allen a dead turtle and told us they were going to make turtle soup.  I couldn’t even imagine what that must be like, but I believed them.  Those kids scared me a bit.  I wondered what the inside of their house looked like, if it was as chaotic as their yard seemed to be.  Thank goodness I didn’t have to try the turtle soup.
  • Churn.  This was the nickname our Aunt Bonnie gave my little sister Sharon.  She loved to climb and get into things so Bonnie thought “Churn” was a more appropriate name, I suppose.  It still fits her!
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  This was a television show that my brother Allen and I acted out.  We would “plake” he was Solo and I would be Kuryakin, and we would pretend we were spies like those characters on the show.  We sometimes lay on the floor on our bellies and inched forward, pretending we were scaling a wall.  I think Robert Vaughn, who played Solo, was one of my first crushes.
  • Love of Life.  There was a TV in the house when we moved in, and Mama watched this soap opera while she folded laundry.  She would make us kids go play outside or in our room.
  • Stingray.  This was a children’s marionette adventure series about a futuristic submarine patrol.  We thought it was wonderful, but seeing the pictures now kind of gives me the creeps!  We couldn’t always watch it because it didn’t come in very well–lots of snow and rolling.  Kids today have no idea what that means!

Mrs. Speights.  Mama would drag us with her to the beauty salon down the street where we would have to wait while she had her hair done.  Three kids in a beauty shop.  Brave woman, my mom.

  • Dinner.  Daddy would come home for dinner in the middle of his workday. We now call that meal lunch, but back then we had breakfast, dinner, and supper. I remember having a sit-down meal with him at the table we played Tinker Toys on.
  • Tinker Toys.  We played with those things for hours.  Allen could always build better structures than I could.  I guess his boy’s mind was geared more that way than my girl’s mind.  I don’t know how we kept from killing ourselves or each other with all those sharp sticks, and for that matter, all those metal toys and playgrounds.  How did kids make it to adulthood without all the safety measures we take today?
  • Hurricane Betsy.  Threatened by this hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, my dad’s brother and his family came to stay with us.  It was the first time I had ever heard of a storm that could make people flee their homes.  My uncle’s home was spared, by the way.
That about does it for my memories of the James house.  We moved about ten miles southeast of Van to the community of Carroll where I continued first grade.
Stay tuned for tales from the Moseley house.