I thought it would be fun, after discussing the toys the three of you played with as kids, to tell you about mine, particularly noting those which crossed generations. Because of my “advanced age,” I am looking at those playthings of both the fifties and sixties.
We didn’t have as many board games at our house as you did, but what I recall are Monopoly, Candyland, Checkers, Twister, and I think, Careers. I played them all, but it is possible that some were played at a friend’s house. Chinese Checkers was a game I recall playing during the summer at the recreation program at John Hill School.
Mr. Potato Head definitely changed over the years. I thought my recollection could not possibly be correct, but a quick search by Mr. Google showed that my brain is still working correctly. Check out the photo I found courtesy of myfitnesspal.com. We use real potatoes as the body, sticking in the eyes, ears, nose, etc. into the real vegetable bought at our nearby A&P Supermarket. It could not have been easy, and I cannot imagine a three-year old being able to play without the assistance of an adult.
The dolls I recall playing with and owning were Shirley Temple and Chatty Cathy. Shirley Temple was a child actress who we watched on television, and I have a vague memory of having her doll. Chatty Cathy was a very primitive talking doll. You would pull a string located on her back, and she would respond with random sentences such as, “Let’s play house”, “Please change my dress”, “I love you”, or “Tell me a story.” It didn’t make for great conversations because you never knew what she would say, but she was new and innovative.
We had Colorforms, and you all had them, but as you know, I have been having great difficulty finding them now. I was positive that Mast General Store, which is filled with retro toys, would have them, but all of the salespeople looked at me with a blank stare when I described them. Never one to give up, I checked again today and was rewarded with my persistence by discovering that, not only do they still exist, but the newest favorite characters of children today—Paw Patrol—are available as Colorforms!!
Did you play with Pick-Up Sticks? Somehow I believe you did. They resemble very long toothpicks, but much longer in size. The idea is to spill them out of their cylindrical-shaped container, and then pick them up one at a time without disturbed the others.
I had, you had, and now Bryce has, Play-Doh. I don’t recall the variety of colors back in my day (mostly just the basic primary colors) or having the kits with all the accessories to make a pizza, but I know we all spent many happy hours rolling and cutting and shaping it.
Silly Putty was another favorite, and besides bouncing and squeezing it, the best activity was to press it against the Sunday comics, which always did, and still do, come in color, and then stretching the putty to make the faces in the comics look distorted.
The Slinky I had then worked much better than the one I recently purchased, which refuses to walk down the stairs.
We had a hula hoop, too, but ours was black. They did not come in the pretty colors like in your day, and certainly not did they sparkle!
What I remember doing the most during the summer was playing hopscotch in the driveway or jumping rope with my friends. When I got together with my many cousins or the neighborhood kids, we played tag, kick-the-can, hide-n-seek, kickball, and spud until it was dark.
When I had a only a few playmates, we laid in the grass and looked at the ever-changing clouds in the sky, tried to catch birds with salt, climbed trees, played school, caught lightening bugs on a warm summer evening, and went downtown for a coke and fries.
The toys which you and I played with which withstood the test of time were the simple toys. Few made annoying noises like so, so many do today, and hardly any required batteries to operate. I can’t wait to return to Mast General to see what “new toys” I can buy for the kids!