Week 7: Toys. What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?
Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog (http://wetree.blogspot.com
I know times were hard, money was tight, The children had a few gifts that birthdays and Christmas brought them for their entertainment. If not they devised their own.
As far as playing with guests, most of you know that what you have is fine for one, not necessarily fine for two or three or a bunch of cousins of all ages. Sometimes you just can't play with toys cause of that factor, and you resort to games, including many kinds of board games.
More than likely an object most often thought of for toy play I would want to share when a girl guests came over to visit; I would say would be my doll. I had some kind of soft plastic doll, less than a foot long. I played with her with my accessories. I had the black doll and some more older shabbier dolls. I had doll furniture like my table and chairs, rocker, my dishes, my big doll bed, a buggy, my little cupboard. Any thing made of wood had been made by my grandfather. Except for the wood doll house resembling our new Meyer house and the other table given to us by my Grandmother Josie. [More on playing with dolls another time.]
A lot of my playmates, which were few, were boys or girls who were 'tom boys', who had real horses at home, so playing house with dolls was not their cup of tea. On my moms side of the family, the girls were usually outnumbered at least five to one and much younger than the others.. [In fact it runs in both families] So boys ways and ideas of playing were usually the way we went, unless we chose to segregate ourselves. You would think girl kind of play with another would be what we would be dying to do, since we were the only girls [similar in age ] in each of our familes. But that was not often the case.
Amy, I wonder at what you mean by toy? Winter or glorious Summer? .
If'Winter, I would select a sled, I would say our round shiny saucer sled. which I have discussed before. Not one seen that often today.
[Spring and Summer toys ] - If it can be a swing, I would say our Horse swing and tire swing contributed to our favorite pass times. Hooked up just right you could get two people on it. I am amazed the creative things people can do with an old tire swing. I have seen crafted horses from them. I wish we had known how to make them then.
Or maybe mom and dad did. We were given a horse swing for Christmas that the boys saw at the hardware store. I suppose it was mostly for Steve. However, as fun as it was mounted in the basement to ride as hard, fast and high as he wanted by pumping with his arms by pushing a bar at the head, and alternating with a push with your feet, it could get old after awhile. Would I sound ungrateful, if I said it limited our play by the fact that it had a definite shape and a horse head. However, it was a favorite, especially in it's first years in our younger years. At one stage, it was moved outside. I think eventually it went to Steve's home for his boys. I haven't seen it much around, though I have seen it occasionally browsing. I am not sure if it's called a scouter swing. If I had the proper name, I am sure I would find it online for sure at ebay.
That horse was outside hanging from the mulberry tree for a long time. It was alright in our imaginative play, if we brought ourselves to the guy on the horse. We had plenty of side walk up by the house. When Steve wanted to he could use his stick horse with a stuffed fabric shaped head and gallop by the person on the swing. Soon enough with moms guidance, the rest of us would be galloping around on mop and broomstick horses . If there were not enough broom sticks to go around to cousins, I made it a thing to select several sticks with a bunch [ his head] at the top. When I was busy at other things, I kept my horse 'Silver' and guest horses in my coral in a designated place in the yard.
My horse sticks from woods not in the picture below.
Outside when I would ride my horse, I loved how my horse stick would go scraping or thumpy thump on the side walk as I galloped off. It made me think of the galloping that I would hear on the radio when Lone ranger and Tonto road their horses. If I was on the dirt, it would raise a little dust to throw off the posse. However, it did leave a trail to follow in case I needed help from the good guys. We followed the golden rule with no arguments " that the good guy always won". We would decide ahead who was to be the good guy or the bad guy.
Of course the boys would come along with accessories like hats, boots, play money, kerchiefs and cap guns. I remember one year when Steve was asked what he wanted for a gift from Amanda, he said a sheriff's badge. I remember how happy I was for him to get one.
I had to scramble around to find my own stuff to blend in with the boys omitting the boots. Mom was always just the person to help. Garden hat or old hat of someones, it didn't matter.
If you had a pretend horse in those days, the next logical thing was to have pretend guns, preferably in our case cap guns with lots of cap shooting in the good parts of your play. I found them delightful and was so sad I had none. Steve rounded up an old broken gun for me, [what a sweety] and I could join in too in the cowboy and robbers games too, but it didn't shoot caps. So Mom showed me how to take a hammer or a rock, and hit the caps one spot at a time. I did enjoy it. But it didn't work so well while one was threateningly fiercely robbing banks. I had to weed to earn money for those caps. I think I even asked Santa for a cap gun of my own too. He had to ask me, if he heard right. And the old dude heard me right and gave me one. What fun we had with our imaginations taken from stories, the radio, and pictures of action with those guns, and our stick horse with a name.
I can't decide which toy was the favorite in our western horse play. To add to the decision difficulty was our stage coach, or get away wagon. Well okay my chariot for the faerie princesses, my dolls or the dogs, [cats just won't ride].
The red flier wagon is so multi purpose I think it should be the winner. I especially think so as an adult now who has had children. That wagon was a godsend for other things around the yard. While mom and dad were weeding, the littlest kid would come by with his wagon and pick the weeds and throw them by hand over the fence to the cows.
I mean a sturdy red metal wagon, Radio Flier. You can push someone in it while they steer, or you can pull at least two others.
Sure we may have wandered away to established games, but time and time again, we probably started out with our props for horse play.
Is it done today. WE had no side walks while I was raising my kids, and a limited drive way with cars in it, which would be an influence. It's hard to say. Games and such has changed with the time. It depends on the upbringing, some boys gravitate to climbing trees, or practicing skills of sports, rather than sit and play with dump trucks and construction toys in a sand box. Then too gun play of all kinds is frowned on in our day. Influenced by other mothers actions, I changed my mind and took the guns away. But they did experience cap guns but not to the extent we did. So maybe cops and robbers play is not encouraged. But if it's Ninja turtle and Transformers they see and know, they are going to play it. I remember seeing my children at times playing in such a imaginative way with hats,and vests, I couldn't tell you if they used any pretend guns, but they were really enjoying themselves creating with props they found all along the way in play.
You can't predict. Only be there to help.
Sissy, I think there is so much structured activities and games in children's lives these days, It's hard to say. If money is tight, it may influence everything. It depends on the parents own lives and their own ideas and what they want to have their children achieve.
For more reading about stick Horses :
How to make stick horses. I wish I could have thought of unicorn when I was young!