Those of us who were born in the 1940s and early ‘50s are likely to relate to at least some of the scenes in the movie A Christmas Story. Nostalgia runs pretty deep throughout the tale of “Ralphie’s” quest for a BB gun for Christmas.
Personally, I never owned a BB gun nor asked for one. That isn’t to say I was a child pacifist. In fact, I had plenty of toy guns, Army sets with miniature troops and I recall a tin aircraft carrier on my “list” that arrived on Christmas. I think it was from my parents, rather than Santa, as I recall seeing it in the toy department with my mother and “wishing” for it, despite her warning that “it won’t last.”
We didn’t do things “up big” in our home as far as Christmas presents were concerned. I’d judge we were average middle-class income folks. But my parents, born in the mid-19-teens, were well aware of the depression and of the WWII shortages. “Overdoing it” wasn’t in the family culture, and I didn’t feel slighted at all.
Most of the toys I gathered were from Christmas, birthdays and “outgrown” by my older brother. I possessed the basics: TinkerToys, Lincoln Logs, blocks, a Marx electric train set and an Erector set that I never really mastered. After a trip to the local airport, I deemed my aircraft fleet to be a little small with just one toy airplane. I happily made a couple more with wood scraps and windows marked by crayoned outlines. I suppose I’d call them “folk art” today.
While I never collected antique toys, I’ve often admired them. There are so many “categories” I imagine it is difficult to decide what to collect. Wind-up? Cast-iron? Tin? Plush? Space and Robots (yes, they now qualify)? And of course, dolls. I’m not sure if banks fall in the “toy” category; I’ve always liked cast iron still banks and mechanical banks.
The home of the New York – Pennsylvania Collector is also the founding-place and the headquarters of Fisher-Price. Our kids had a variety. I noticed an auction recently where the Fisher-Price “Little People” were categorized by all-wood, wood with plastic heads, and all plastic. Pure collectors like pure examples!
That’s my trip down memory lane at the holidays. What was your Red Ryder quest?
Grant Hamilton, Publisher