Friday, December 30, 2011


            I’m embarrassed to admit that I have held on to many of my kids’ childhood toys. I still have an assortment of blocks, Fischer Price ‘little people’, Matchbox cars, and so on. I think that one reason I’ve held on to these is the regret I’ve felt about my mother having tossed out some of my own childhood treasures (gone are the 500 Beatle cards I painstakingly collected).
            Is it nostalgia alone that makes us look back so fondly at the toys and games of years ago?  Is it that they evoke an era of innocence or was there something unique about the toys themselves?  Probably it’s both.
            There are so many electronic toys and gadgets available these days that sometimes it’s nice to think back to a time when a simple toy could still capture the imagination of a young child.
            Most of us have a memory of a special toy: one that we received on a special occasion or that a sibling or friend was warned to touch with care.  In my case it was a Give A Show Projector.  What this was, was a plastic magnifying toy of sorts, through which slides were pushed.  The slides themselves contained about 4 or 5 cels that told a story when projected onto a wall.  The various cartoons included with the projector were: Popeye, The Three Stooges, Maverick, and Huckleberry Hound to name a few.  Now admittedly this seems really, really basic when compared to the XBOX of today, but I found it thoroughly entertaining.
            In addition to the toys of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, there were the games: Candyland, Cootie, Mousetrap, Twister, Battleship, Chutes & Ladders, Life, Monopoly, Sorry (and Trouble, both variations of Parcheesi), and Clue (since I always loved a good mystery, this one was a personal favorite of mine.) Of course many of these games are still around, but back then there were no video games with which to compete.
            As is evident in many aspects of our culture, the attention span of society as a whole has waned somewhat and there’s no denying that it’s a challenge for one product not to be deemed obsolete upon the arrival of another. And yet, I think it’s safe to say that even with all the options available today, most kids would find some older toys intriguing if nothing else.
            I’ve made a list of some of the more popular “vintage” toys, many of which have survived into the 21st. century. For a nice viewing of some of these on You Tube, go to

1.                  Mr. Potato Head
2.                  G.I. Joe
3.                  Lionel trains
4.                  Barbie (and her assorted friends and family members: Ken, Skipper, etc.)
5.                  Colorforms
6.                  Lite Brite
7.                  Betty Crocker Jr. Baking Kit
8.                  Etch a Sketch
9.                  Slinky
10.              Erector set
11.              Chatty Cathy
12.              Betsy Wetsy
13.              Play Doh
14.              Suzy Homemaker Oven
15.              Pick Up Sticks
16.              Davy Crockett rifle and hat
17.              Silly Putty
18.              Tinker Toys
19.              Viewmaster and reels
20.              Lincoln Logs

Thanks for joining me this week on RHODES LESS TRAVELED. Incidentally, I'm toying with the idea of adding something to my blog for the coming year. Since it is nostalgia oriented, I'm thinking of posting a daily "this day in history". I'd appreciate any feedback as to whether this would be a good addition.

Have a great weekend and a very Happy New Year,


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