Chatty Kathy, Thumbelina and an Easy-Bake Oven – The Toys of Our Youth

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What toys did you love when you were a child? Ask your elderly loved ones which ones they cherished!

I was only five years old when I decided I wanted to be a princess. I thought about it a lot, especially after going to see Sleeping Beauty. I wanted to be that beautiful girl who ended up with a crown on her head. I thought all it would take for me to be a princess is a crown like Aurora had. So when Christmas was nearing, I asked my mama if Santa might bring me a beautiful princess crown. I really don’t know where she found it, but to my delight, a princess crown was under the tree. A real silver crown covered in “diamonds.” I wore that crown to death and it was the envy of all my friends.

Toys Make Memories

What fond memories do you have of a favorite childhood toy? Did you tuck it away in an old trunk for safe keeping? I still have my blue teddy bear that I slept with every night. Daddy would tuck me in and listen to my prayers and tuck teddy under my arm. He’s lost a lot of his eyelashes and has a few holes in his fur, but he’s still precious to me. After all, he was my sleeping buddy until I was way past 16 years old!

Did you ever have an Easy Bake Oven? I couldn’t believe I could bake a cake with only the heat from a light bulb! When my granddaughters got one for Christmas, it looked nothing like the one I had. I sure hope theirs worked better than mine. Those cakes were a lot of trouble and were so tiny they were gone in one gulp!

I was never really fond of dolls, but my mama was. I don’t believe she ever had one growing up with six brothers and five sisters in the backwoods of Oklahoma. So dolls she got me. There was Thumbelina, Chatty Kathy, Patty Play pal and even a Madam Alexander doll named Janie. Of course when my friends started playing with Barbie dolls, I just had to have one. Not that I like them. If you wanted to play in my neighborhood you had to have a Barbie doll.

I did love paper dolls. I would cut out all the Betsy McCall ones in the back of mama’s magazines. Daddy worked at a barber shop so he would bring them home. Once on a visit to Woolworths, mama found paper dolls of Jackie and Carolyn. Those were a great find! Just imagine playing with the first lady and her daughter for hours at a time.

The Christmas I turned nine nearly drove me crazy. Mama always wrapped a lot of my presents a few weeks before Christmas and I couldn’t help but examine them over and over again. There was this one that had me baffled. It was heavy, not so big but it rattled when I shook it. I would try to guess what it was but I just couldn’t figure out what might be in that box! When I finally opened it on Christmas morning, I was more than surprised. I had actually never heard of a Creepy Crawlers Bug Maker. It had lots of colored “goop” and a little square oven. It had metal forms that you filled with goop and then you cooked your creepies until they were set. Talk about fun!

Inspiring a Child’s Imagination

When we finally moved to the country, I had to be a cowgirl. Daddy bought me a horse and for Christmas I asked for a Buffalo Bill Red Ryder B-B Gun and a bow and arrow set. All I needed was a leather fringe jacket. Well, my brown jacket did have fringe but it was made out of brushed cotton. Oh, the dreams I had while wearing that jacket and roaming through the fields with my B-B gun or bow. I could imagine riding along with John Wayne or one of the characters out of a Zane Gray novel.

Now nearly every toy has some electronic twist to it. I feel sorry for kids nowadays. They’ll never know what it’s like to dream big with simple toys like the ones we had growing up. I’ve boycotted the toy industry since my grandkids were born. I buy them books and real things like pocket knives and fishing poles. I just can’t bear to spend good money on a piece of plastic that will be broken in no time at all. Last year I got the older granddaughters sewing machines. They love them!

We’d love to hear about your favorite toys and hear the stories from your elders. Were any of your toys handmade? Were any of them passed down from your mother or father’s childhoods?

It’s still fun for me to remember when I was a princess and all it took was a beautiful crown.

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