Still more toys

This is our final week about childhood toys. Thank you for your responses, readers. Enjoy the rest of the stories!


A doll with soft, brown curly hair was my favorite but more important were the outside toys. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and so there was not much grass to play on. That didn't matter as the sidewalks, alleys and streets were great places to use our toys. The toys were: ropes- both a short one and two long ones, chalk, a little pink ball, roller skates and a stick. I could go on and on about how all those toys were used in the streets but won't here. All the games we played helped us to form strong bones as our feet pounded the hard ground. In the summer it was goggles, an inner tube and a small boat, and oh a swim suit that wore out when it was just midway into the summer due to all the play in the salt water of the Long Island Sound. Growing up in the city was a blast that country kids would not understand.

Arleen, Fergus Falls, MN


 I used to dress up in an old shawl of my mother's. It was soft cream-colored Kashmir wool with long fringe twisted with gold thread. A triangle tear sent it to the dress-up box. I used to drape that shawl over my head and imagine it was long golden hair like Aurora in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Only as an adult did I realize how ridiculous I must have looked, but inside I felt beautiful. I moved with grace and elegance. I WAS Aurora. After all, you are how you feel.

LeAnne, northwestern Wisconsin


 A back-and-forth between two friends:

 Kathy: I played with Dawn Dolls. They are about 3-4 inches tall. Switched out outfits.

Shelby: I loved my Dawn Doll! *Showed a picture*

K: Oh, they were 6 inches… I thought 3 inches!

S: I’m pretty sure I lost one of her little white shoes within days, if not hours. I also loved my Barbies; though I wasn’t allowed to have Ken, my brothers’ GI Joe made a fine husband and was a bit more “manly.” I liked to make my own clothes for my paper dolls and liked Liddle Kiddles/Lucky Lockets too. I also loved my Velvet doll-cousin of Crissy, with the hair that “grew” when you pushed the button on her tummy and pulled her hair down—or shortened when you turned the knob on her back—which was my present from Santa. While we were in church a few months later, our naughty baby squirrel (we were playing nurse to him after he fell out of his nest), escaped his box and wreaked havoc all over the house. During his hour of mayhem, he chewed off Velvet’s fingers and nose. I was devastated. Oh, I can laugh… now.

K: I had the Velvet doll too! I loved her purple dress and longgg blonde hair.

S: Looking at photos, Crissy was much more mod-looking. She was supposed to be a young teen. Velvet was her younger cousin. I wanted a blonde because I was blonde as well—not as bright as Velvet, though. Ha!

K: My sister and I both wanted the Velvet doll, not the Crissy doll. So we fought over who would get stuck with which doll. I think Crissy had red hair. We didn’t like red hair. My friend had Crissy, and I remembered her long red hair and her super mod clothes. Yet, when Velvet came out, I had to have her. Now I see photos of her, and she looks a little bit like an elf!

 Kathy, Brooklyn Park, MN, and Shelby, Crystal, MN


 I have a childhood story about Christmas and my dolly.

I knew Mother hid the toys (our gifts) up in the attic. And so, when our babysitter came over, I asked her if she would help me get into the attic so I could see what I had up there. She did. And I had a baby buggy up there. Now, how would I take care of having cheated? I didn’t know I was cheating but I shouldn’t have done it, because it ruins what you’re getting! And Mother never did know I had seen it, and I had to pretend I hadn’t. That was my story. And the babysitter helped me do it. She said, “Now don’t tell anybody you did this.” I was seven or eight years old at the time, and I never confessed it to Mother.

Kath, Valley City, ND


My favorite toys were Johnny West and Geronimo action figures with Breyer plastic horses. I had a fantastic backyard at 39xx Kootenai St., in Boise, Idaho, where my heroes could roam. It had a two-story fort, built by my dad, trees to climb, and a large-for-me-at-the-time ditch running behind it that served as a rushing river. It was a spectacular and dangerous wilderness for some plastic toys and a kid with a pretty active day dream cycle.

Part of what made these toys spectacular was the whole process of getting them. Every year, before Christmas, my parents would take us to the most spectacular place on earth! It was a mall, on the outskirts of Boise, but that mall contained THE ICE CREAM PALACE! We were allowed to go through the mall and give our parents options for one gift that we may or may not get. After I finally scored both Johnny West and Geronimo, my “options” were always the same, one of various Breyer horses. After the shopping was finished, we got to go to The Ice Cream Palace! If I were to see it now, I would probably think it was gaudy and ostentatious, like a Trump Hotel on steroids, but in my memory it will always be the greatest ice cream shop ever created! 

After the shopping came the waiting. Waiting until Christmas Eve. We went to the Christmas Eve service at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, won a bag of candy, peanuts, an apple and an orange for making it through the service, and then rushed home to get in our pajamas and open presents. We were allowed to stay up playing with our new toys for as long as we wanted, long after the parents went to bed, and most Christmas Eves I would fall asleep in my dad’s recliner, pulled up in front of the fireplace, wrapped in a blanket, with my new trusty horse and my partners, Johnny West and Geronimo, tucked under my arm.

Scott, Minneapolis, MN


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.