Wednesday, February 16, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy, Week 7: Toys of My Mind

Dust covered boxes in the attic daunted my search for a box of dishes to send to a granddaughter. If the dust wasn't enough, the hand scrawled labels on the boxes greatly impeded my search – “Pictures, 1943,” “1932 Olympics,” “winter clothes, 1965.” “Ice Skates.” But the box labeled “Toys” had me on my knees for a tumble of memories.

Fingering the old, crackled leather, I remembered  my younger sister, as she often wore her “chowboy” boots, vest  and chaps. Silver colored “six shooters” hung from her tiny frame.

Rusted trucks and tractors morphed into  rows of toy trucks (usually red) and tractors, graders, earth movers (usually yellow) that entertained by the hour my younger brothers. And coonskin caps atop their unruly mops while they hunkered over the chess board.

From my children, a gaggle of dolls some now hairless, armless, their blue eyes vacant with loss, danced across my mind in their former splendor; a battered “Stoney Burke” hat tossed over boxes of paints, brushes, and tattered art work mind ; model cars and airplanes tucked in amongst books on the moon, space travel and posters of Apollo missions reflected the scientific bent of the youngest

Grandchildren's treasures, now a jumble of Ninja turtles, chemistry sets, boxes of beads, soccer balls, baseballs, basketballs; trucks, cars and model airplanes vie for space; homemade “flat dolls” and their flat paper-doll-like wardrobes; a doll houses, hand-crafted, complete with miniature dolls and furniture; old, dried out bottles of finger paints cradled in a red wooden easel, still festooned with torn sheets of newsprint.

But no favorite toys come to my mind as favorites from my childhood. For sure, I had the line up of dolls and their accouterments and also a set of “six shooters.”  As a family, we had games, Scrabble, Monopoly, Checkers, and Chess, but those – rather a bore to me.

What I remembered of my childhood reached into that world of my mind. My old roan horse nuzzling me across the fence,  sometimes she carried this  princess to far off lands, sometimes into battle, or helped save the village from some unseen enemy. She was indeed a magical roan.

Then, the old war surplus raft plied the canal in front of our house. Slunk low under the willow branches to escape marauding “Injuns”; or my foot on the bow, leaning forward in search of new lands; or laying on the cool rubber bottom watching cloud figures overhead.

“My” tree along side the canal provided a special retreat, a harbor from hurt, a castle above the ground and listened to my child's heart and soul but cast no judgment.

Perhaps most special of all, the car that my father built for me. A washing machine motor turned belts and pulleys as I traversed the ranch compound. A race car sometimes. Transporting me to far away places on a sunny day. The absolute embodiment of a father's love.

A tree, a horse, a rubber raft or a washing machine motor encased in a metal body – not what one would usually consider a favorite toy, but these are the memories of my childhood at play. The toys of my mind.


  1. Make-believe was the best. I never thought I'd use the phrase "kids today", but do kids today even know how to use their imaginations? You'd have to turn off the pc, ipod, and tv in order to think...lol.

  2. I so enjoyed reading about your memories of toys...especially the car with the washing machine motor! Great post!

  3. Donna and Dorene, Thank you so much for stopping by to read this post. Your comments mean so much to me and I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. As always, a truly great post, poetic, beautiful, taking me with you into your memories. LOVE IT!

  5. I too was a child of hideouts, forts, and magical animals. What really hit home was the fact that your father took the time to create for you... not just plant you and hoped you grew on your own.

  6. Carol and Jody, Thanks for reading and the kind words. This was a fun post to write -- just sort of wrote itself. One day, I'll find a picture of the car and post it as well. Thanks again.

  7. Beautiful post - imagination, make-believe, pretend - we can see it all, and also see the passage of time from one set of toys to the next.

  8. A great evocative post. Thank you.

  9. searching for a non existent plastic 'paper doll' I found your blog. So well written and carries further memories to my mind,,, and the question.... Amy what is a toy?
    Great post

  10. hi Joan In some ways I envy you your attic but in other ways I'm glad I don't have one....I hate to think how much more "stuff" I could accumulate and that's despite moving often. But
    think of all the memories ;-0


  11. When I hear my grandson's elaborate imaginative stories I know full well that kids today haven't lost the art of make believe. he could out-pretend anyone I reckon:-)

    Thanks for a fascinating blog.