TOY: Object for a child to play with.
If you’re a Baby Boomer, that object may have been Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs, anything space or Western related, a baby doll or Barbie or perhaps a troll. How about a Tonka truck? Twister or Cootie or Candy Land, anyone?
The Minnesota History Center’s “TOYS of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s” is a skip down memory lane for my generation. A recent tour of the exhibit, which runs through January 4, 2015, skipped joy into my heart as I spotted toys I hadn’t thought about in years. Sometimes it’s fun simply to forget about today and remember the carefree days of youth. The days of hopscotch and jacks and stick horses and…
I didn’t see a jump rope, though, but perhaps missed it.
Oh, the hours sitting cross-legged with Tinker Toys scattered across the floor, attempting to construct a Ferris Wheel.
Oh, the anticipation of rolling a six on the die to insert the last of six legs into a Cootie’s body.
Oh, the tears that raged when I discovered my oldest brother had punched in the boobs of my new bridal doll.
Oh, the gratitude to my friend Robin for gifting me with a mini pink-haired troll at my ninth birthday party. It was the only troll or childhood birthday party I would ever have.
Oh, the delight in creating kaleidoscopic designs with Spirograph’s pens and plastic shapes.
Memories rolled in waves as I perused the showcased toys. Some I had as a child; many I did not.
I remember each December paging through the Sears Christmas catalog (AKA “Wish Book”) that arrived in our rural southwestern Minnesota mailbox, wishing for so much, knowing in my deepest desires that I would never get the Pogo stick I coveted nor the doll that cried with the pull of a string or a new bicycle (mine came from the junkyard).
I would receive what my parents could afford and I expect they sacrificed much even for that.
Looking back, that inability to give me and my siblings a pile of toys was a gift in itself. Sure, I wanted the hottest new toy. That’s normal thinking for a kid who doesn’t understand family finances or a parent’s thoughts on curbing greed.
Because of my upbringing, I have never focused on material things.
Yes, toys are fun to get and give, especially those that encourage creativity and imaginative play and don’t require batteries.
But it is family that I cherish most. And when I toured the History Center’s toy and other exhibits, I did so with my husband, eldest daughter and son-in-law. Nothing skips joy into my heart like being with those I love.
FYI: For information on “TOYS of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” click here. Just a little heads up: This exhibit was packed on a Saturday afternoon. I’d advise visiting this St. Paul museum on a weekday, especially if you want an opportunity to participate in the interactive parts of exhibits.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling