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Toys jog memories

July 10, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , For The Leader Herald

After I wrote a column on my marble collection and playing marbles, I found there were others, boys and girls, who still had their marbles from childhood. Some asked me if I had other childhood collectables. It has been said that as "the boys get bigger, the toys get bigger." In my case, another saying might be, "When the boys get taller, the toys get smaller!" The toys that I have to remind me of my past tend to be miniatures.

I had an interest in airplanes when I grew up during WWII and I still have my scrapbooks with the airplane cigarette cards and other photographs. My favorite plane was the "Flying Tiger," a plane used by American pilots flying for China at the beginning of the war. Of course, I have a small, heavy metal, scale model of the "Tiger Shark" with its teeth painted on the front. Interestingly, the model was "Made in China."

Going back in our family history, I have a toy to connect with my grandfathers. The Williams families were dairy farmers near Dolgeville and my great-grandfather delivered milk by horse and milk wagon. I have a giant framed photograph of him delivering the milk. Of course, I had to buy one of those antique, iron, horse and milk wagon toys from yesteryears. It came complete with the driver and "FRESH MILK" embossed on the sides of the enclosed wagon. With the farm connection and the cows with their cowbells strapped around their necks, my collection includes three cowbells.

My mother told of my grandfathers buying her and my Uncle Bill Whitman a Model-T Ford in the 1920s. Licenses were not required so my mother jumped in to take it for a spin, put it in reverse by mistake and backed into the ditch and got stuck. The first car that I remember my father buying when we were little was a Model A with a rumble seat. So, there again, I have a miniature Model-T toy.

When our children were little, we found the 23-window VW Bus to be the perfect car to transport our large family and their friends. I have two small models of the VW Bus as well as the "Beetle," which we drove until our family grew.

Some of the collectable tin containers bring memories of my youth. I have a Fig Newton tin, a Wheaties and Shredded Wheat tins. I grew up on all three; I never went camping without my box of Fig Newtons. I still enjoy Wheaties and Shredded Wheat for breakfast. Some habits never change and they last for a lifetime.

I have a box of board games from youth and some wooden toys. When I took boys shop in school, I made a "dancing man" so I have a couple of them in my possession. Do you remember Flinch and Touring, the famous Parker Brothers games? And, we always had a deck of regular playing cards so we could play an exciting game of "Slap Jack!"

In my education days, we learned "Toys are the tools of childhood." It appears my "tools of childhood" served me well and still bring good memories to me.



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