Thursday, December 24, 2009

Toyland, starting in 1929

At Christmas time I think of some of my favorite toys. Remember yours?

At age 4,on the last Christmas of the 1920s, I received a Lionel electric train, my dad’s choice. That same year I was given alphabet blocks with letters and illustrations on them. The only one I remember is Z for Zulu.

Age 6 brought a small cast iron truck, one of my all-time favorite toys, and space in the garden for building roads.

When I was about 8 years old I prized a toy that made lead soldiers and cowboys. The toy melted lead, which I poured into molds.

Another favorite was an electric burning tool, which burned designs and drawings into wood or leather.

A chemistry set provided hours of fun. I discovered that I could buy some of my replacement chemicals at the drug store, which was cheaper than ordering by mail.

A toy typewriter required dialing one letter at a time, and it did not know how to spell. It was succeeded by a hand-operated printing press.

A battery-powered Morse code telegraph toy, with keys for sender and receiver, allowed for the transmission of secret messages over distances of many feet.

I once envied my pal John Adams, who received 10 different titles in the Big Little Book series for Christmas. That was a whole dollar’s worth of books.

By age 11 my favorite possession was a bike, which had a speedometer. I rode it a lot and for long distances.

That period included another favorite, a small radio in my bedroom. This was before the time of FM radio and television. I heard the famous newscaster H. V. Kaltenborn report the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. I heard Adolph Hitler harangues on the rising and falling waves of sound peculiar to overseas transmissions, his strident tones bringing yells of Sieg Heil from the crowd.


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