Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Memories -- My Toy Story

Down at the corner of the neighbor’s field where the canal meets the drain ditch, there is a big purple floating ball.  It just drifted there a couple days ago when the irrigation water was turned into the canals.  This morning as I jogged by it, it reminded me of a birthday present I got when I was a kid – I was maybe nine or ten.   
Head-ache balls

It was just like this blue one, but mine was read.  I used it for one day, my birthday, but it gave me such a headache bouncing in the hot July sun I put it in the garage.  It stayed there until someone tossed it . . . or it blew away.  I’m guessing some other little kid felt the same way about his purple ball. 

That ball got me to thinking about a few other odd childhood toys.

1.  I think we called these Clackers.  They were like giant marbles attached to a cord and came in all colors.  My folks brought each of us kids a set when they went on a trip.  To get them smacking, you'd flip your wrist back and forth, back and forth until you got them knocking at the top and the bottom.  Until you got good at it, you had bruises all over your forearms.  Everybody took them to school.  They'd never let these on a school playground now, they'd be juvenile nunchakus, but they sure were fun until our school banned them.

2.  I didn't have one of these machines, but my best friend, Nita, did.  When I spent the night we'd make dozens of creepy crawlers.  There was a little metal tray with bug shapes that you filled with plastic goop.  Then you set the metal trays down inside a hot plate until the bugs were cooked.  I have no idea what they expected us to do with so many rubber bugs . . . give them as gifts I guess.  I do believe I gave everyone I knew a creepy crawler at one time or another.  (Another thing I liked about spending the night with Nita, besides making rubber worms, was that she was an only child and so her folks let her pick what she wanted to eat for supper.  With ten kids, that was unheard of at my house.  Oh, and Nita's folks owned a store, too, so they'd let us pick out a grape bubblegum ball before we got on the school bus.  I was certain she was the luckiest little girl in our school, what with a rubber-worm-making machine, free rein of the gum-balls, supper of choice every night . . . and she had a footsie,

which is like a hula hoop just for your foot.)

3.  Every spring, just as the shorts were coming out of the closets, so were the hula hoops.  I loved hula hooping -- twirling it around your arm, then back up over your head and letting it fall to your neck and twirling it there until you got red burns and scrapes around your neck, then letting it slide down to your waist for several spins, then to your knees, and finally to your foot where you ran around the playground jumping over it as you twirled it.  I think Shel Silverstein must have gotten his inspiration for I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor from the hula hoop girls.  All Mr. Silverstein had to do was reverse the order.

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor, 
And I don't like it -- one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh, fiddle, 
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread, 
It's upmmmmmmmmmmmfffffffff . . . .  

4.  Roller skating was probably my favorite spring recess activity until I was in 5th grade.  Everybody had a key tied around their neck with a piece of yarn, and holes in the knees of their pants.

5.  I don't know if these count as a toy, but they were another thing that my folks would bring home from one of their trips.  To get the Mexican Jumping Beans moving you warmed them up in your hand until the larvae inside the little beans woke up and made the beans start skipping in your palm.  My beans always shriveled up and died after a few days.  They never hatched.

6.  I think every house had one or seven of these.  Somebody always got one at the classroom Christmas party gift exchange.  

7.  Don't ask me how that jumping red ball could give me such a headache, but the pogo stick didn't.  All I know is we bounced and bounced and bounced.  We could easily go over 100 bounces.  However, it was always a wee bit dangerous to jump right after Mom had washed off the sidewalk.  One hop into the puddle and that pogo stick flew out from underneath you and you fell and cracked your head on the cement.  Not really, we just said we cracked our heads.  (Everybody cracked their heads in the '70's, which is not to be confused with the crack-heads of the 80's.)

8.  I couldn't find a picture quite like the moon shoes that I got for my birthday, but this gives you an idea of what moon shoes are.  My niece Maddie tried to make herself a pair recently from old tennis shoes and bedsprings.  I don't think hers worked any better than mine did.  I'm guessing these became popular after man first set foot on the moon.  I liked these about as well as the red bouncing ball.

How about you?  What's your toy story?  
What odd toys were around when you were a kid?
Were you very good at getting the hula hoop all the way from your arm, to your neck, 
to your waist, to your knees, to your feet without it touching the ground or loosing it's whirl?


Tiffany Fackrell said...

oooh I loved clackers. although ours were on a stick and the strings weren't strings but hard plastic so that they didn't leave bruises on your arms. but still made them clack on top and bottom. I also had one of those hoola hoops for your feet...but it was called a skip it. mine was hot pink and even had a counter on it so you knew how many times it went around. it was my most favorite thing in the world!!! But i think my prize toy as a kid was my baby doll that I named Amanda...and she was so so real to me. After i got amanda i never wanted anything else for santa had to get creative and made her clothes and a changing table and things for her because i truely never wanted anything else. i had my Amanda and i was set!!! recently my kids just drug out all of my old trolls!!! Oh and in the top of one of my parents closets is 3 sets of those quint dolls that I can't wait to get down and give to my Cambree in a few years for christmas!!!

Deidra said...

My favorite toy was my bike. I went everywhere on it! We loved the trampoline and sprinklers (we used them together quite often). I also loved playing with our John Deere toy tractors in the mud.

In 3rd grade I won a hula hoop competition! They had the whole 3rd grade in the gym start at the same time and I lasted the longest!

Brenda Goodrich said...

You brought back so many good memories. I loved loved my spirograph and was unbelievable on a pair of stilts! Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Angie said...

1) my favorite toys were my barbies (all of of which i still have, including outifts, car, furniture, and accessories. and my cabbage patch kids, of which I still have as well, and have become Q's "babies"

2) I was amazing at the POGOBALL. It was a bouncy ball, with a saucer around it. You out your feet on either side of the ball and jumped around and did tricks. I was amazing on that Pogoball!

Becky said...

Like Angie, I had a Pogoball that I loved for one year. :)

I got my first pair of roller skates when I was in kindergarten and I loved them but I never learned how to ride a bike until after Sam was born! I also don't hula hoop well.

I spent a couple of summers playing Chinese jump rope with my cousins and loved it! And my mom made us girls homemade Cabbage Patch dolls.

I hated Barbies and never knew what to do with them but always yearned for an American Girl doll with a matching outfit :)

I could go on an on although I read books more than I ever played with toys--what a fun post!

Nikki said...

I had no idea Shel Silverstein wrote that. I let my kids get in the King size pillow cases sometimes and sing that song.

Hula hoops and jump ropes were my favorite.

JennyBeeGood said...

We had many strange toys when I was a kid. Like that slime you get from the bubble gum machine. That one still has me thinking, "who came up with THAT for a kid?" Oh, and there was the skip it, that left marks on your ankle ans you spun it around with one leg and skipped with it, and it kept count of your skips. Probably the first version of the pedometer. I remember another huge one was scratch and sniff stickers. I remember thinking how cool it was to get a scratch and sniff sticker at school. Oh, and paper dress up dolls for road trips. They still do those, too.