Category Archives: Play-doh

Memories of Toys and Wishes

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What was your favorite toy or game you played while a child?
Sometimes this is very simple and one that lasts for a long time, too.
What did you wish for “on a star,” throwing a penny into a fountain or
a hurried, anxious whisper to Santa Claus.

My favorite toys were:
While a toddler, blocks and stuffed animals. I have a black and white
photograph of myself dialing a “real” black telephone.

While a child, baby dolls came next. I loved the baby buggy that I
would push down the sidewalk. I loved my “real” babies, my baby
brothers. One born 18 months after my birth and the other one, born
two years later. I loved to dress my youngest one up in baby booties,
a little outfit and a hat upon his head, tied under his chubby chin.

While a little older, Barbie, Tammy doll, Ken, Skipper and Alan came
along. To play “acting out like a teenager” with beautiful dresses,
mostly hand-sewn by my Grandma Oldrieve or my Mom. Later still, I had
a Tutti, who was Skipper’s little sister, I still have a few matching
outfits those two wore together. I always wished I had a SISTER!

Even older still, I loved to play with my Mom’s jewelry, fancy clothes
that she would ‘pass down’ for my friends and I to play “dress up” in.
I enjoyed wearing her high heels and clicking around in the house in
our uncarpeted hallway and on the sidewalk– to the detriment of the
dressy shoes!

I enjoyed the Madame Alexander collectable dolls from foreign countries,
dreaming of places far and wide. I had Spain, France, England and also,
Germany. (The 6″ sized ones, one each birthday or Christmas so I would
take care of them! I just gave a “Mary Poppins” doll to my friend, Felda’s
daughter, Kridia Dawn out of my collection. I now pass them on, not
worrying about their ‘value’ except in the smiles I receive when given!

My favorite gift of all time was the kitchen and grocery store that my
Dad set up for my brothers and me to play with in the basement. I had
a sink, a refrigerator, a stove and a pantry full of shelves. The kitchen
set was a combined birthday and Christmas present before I reached second
grade. I remember it so well, little plastic dishes, pots, pans and a
“real” rubber silverware holder, with plastic utensils. There was even a
new “potholder” and new kitchen towel with a rooster on it.

In the grocery store, we had a fishing tackle box, we used as the “cash
register.” We had a small pad of paper, a little chalk board that we
would write the “special sales” on and play money. My Dad threw in a
big glass jar of pennies to use, too.
On all the multiple shelves in our grocery store, Mom had saved boxes
of Jello, Rice Krispies, Wheaties, Quaker Oats cardboard circular boxes
and plastic tubs for putting things in. Mom or Dad had absconded with
a huge pile of paper sacks, too!
There was a large tin can with the words Conn’s potato chips on it. We used
this for our stool behind the “cash register.”

Many, many innumerable hours passed with my brothers, neighbors, my cousins
and I spent “playing house,” “playing school,” and “playing grocery store.”

I ran into a couple of news items about toys, just to add to this memory
post:

1. “Matchbox cars” came about due to a teacher in Anne Odell’s classroom
making a rule up in 1952, that nothing could be ‘played with’ or brought
to school: “Unless they were no bigger than a match box.”
Her father was an engineer and made her a tiny die-cast steamroller. Got
the patent and thus, the creation and invention of the Matchbox cars and
vehicles! What ingenuity! Glad to hear a little girl was the impetus, too!

2. Play-doh was someone’s invention that some parents would “rue the day”
that stuff entered their houses! I think the inventor must have been a
child who loved playing in the mud or with their glue. Actually, it is an
interesting OHIO story! The inventors, Joe McVicker and Bill Rhodenbaugh,
used this compound as a 1930’s wallpaper cleaner. Some parent who worked
with it, let their child play with it making it a modeling compound. In
the 1950’s, the “recipe” was reworked to make it safe for children, it
was then marketed to Cincinnati Schools. I used to love this as a way to
calm children after they played outside, using all kinds of cookie cutters
and letting them use cups to mix the colors, etc. When I was a special
education preschool teacher, the Occupational Therapist and OT Assistant,
would use this again, as a way to calm a child or get some hands actively
working making “snakes” and other things. It would be something that
children with Autism and on the ‘spectrum’ would resist, due to the ‘feel’
of it.

3. Gumby was originally the supple, green and friendly face going to be
used for an animated jazz video! Imagine that! Art Clokey was picturing
him as such, but once presented to studio heads, the ones in charge of
the whole operation, saw this creation as they knew kids would love him.
Art Clokey made these clay humanoids into a popular toy, also the clay
animation for “David and Goliath.”

Check out more of the origins of toys and fun facts in the book, “Toy
Time!” by Christopher Bymes!