Toys I Grew Up With!
by R. Renée Bembry
Favorite toys I grew up with included baby dolls with bottle drinking holes punctured through the centers of their lips. The thing was I believed the holes were too small to afford nutritious meals to the dolls—that they’d starve to death if I—their mother—didn’t do something about it. So I scissored the tiny mouth holes into good sized slits in order to force feed bread, cup cakes, and candy to the dolls. In that the dolls were intended to take in liquid—water I’m sure was what the manufacturer had intended—their bottoms were equipped with urinary openings. Rectal openings—yeah, that was another story; and since they couldn’t relieve themselves, I used to take their heads off every so often to clean out the molded debris.
And then there were marbles. That’s right...I was a tomboy! Marbles were great toys to play cowboys and Indians with. The cat-eyes represented the cowboys because their virtual solid red, blue, and green coloring beneath their crystal clear outers was soldier-like. All other marbles—well except full crystals and silver boulders (ball bearings) were Indians due to their intertwining colorful swirls. Anyway, the idea was to roll or shoot the marbles from either side of a line so the marbles could kill each other. Or you could shoot them after one another around the floor or smash-roll bunches of them into each other with the palms of your hands for big attacks.
Marbles were also great for shooting out of dirt-drawn circles—especially with brave souls willing to “put up” their marbles and risk losing them if someone else shot from the circle.
Other toys included games which are still available today—Old Maid, Animal Rummy and a slew of regular playing cards, baseball cards, dice, bingo, Pokeno, jacks—“Did I say Jacks?”
Oh yes... Jacks were great; and the talent of tossing all ten jacks (the number required for a game) in the air only to catch them on the back of your hand to take the lead in a jack-rock tournament—made you the bomb; except we didn’t call it “bomb” back then. Anyway, if you also had that knack for striking one through ten fingers (representing the number of games you’d won) while holding all ten jacks in the same hand you used to throw the ball up and catch it after it bounced, you could become champion over and over again.
Other fun toys were bicycles, scooters, pogo sticks, Barbies that had more clothes and a better house (in my room) than I had—basketball in a box, Rock’em Sock’em Robots, adjustable roller skates with two wheels in back and two wheels in front you had to attach to your shoes, jump ropes—anyone got a clothesline? Sling shots, darts, bee-bee guns with metal bee bees. Cap guns and holsters, bows and arrows—
Oh yes...bows and arrows were also great toys; and every kid in a tree infested neighborhood could have one. All you had to do was pick a fairly straight branch, slit each end and fasten a strong string knotted at each end to either end of the branch to make a decent bow. As far as the arrows went—you’d pick slimmer branches, skin them, slit one end wide enough for the bow string to fit inside it, and smash a soda bottle cap around the other ends. These babies were great for shooting bats seeking shelter in the roof of your house.
And speaking of houses—other favorite toys you could make yourself were mud pies, and mud cakes, and such. The best, however, were the mud balls. Mud balls were also great for attacking bats. Just keep throwing them at bats aiming to land on the roof of the white house. Only you couldn’t throw that high and –Mom wasn’t too pleased with the red mud ball splashy dots you left all over the stucco.