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Presents of Mind

In an earlier column, I said I remembered the Christmas tree better than the “loot.” True story.  However, I DO remember two gifts, both from my young childhood.

Santa delivered the first gift when I was four. It was a fabulous electric train--considered an odd gift for a little girl in 1949. My mom and dad were slightly amused by my choice, but indulged it anyway. In fact, my dad mounted the track in a figure 8 pattern on a huge piece of plywood. A little transformer controlled the engine, which pulled a coal car, a cattle car, a container car and of course, the caboose, with its own open balcony.  Talk about a hot item!  Suddenly I was more popular than a bar on Saturday night.

The second was a dollhouse, given to me when I was 5. Now we’re not talking a chi-chi wooden model hand-crafted to look like an Antebellum Manse or a Victorian Castle.  This one was metal, with the walls and ceilings all painted in.  But it had great accessories. A mom, dad, girl, boy and baby lived there. They had a car with wheels that really turned and doors that opened after it pulled into the garage. I was actually the only kid in the neighborhood who had a dollhouse and it was a hit on the “play circuit.” You can see my next-door neighbor, Gwennie, checking it out and planning her next purchase. Of course, as was her custom, hers would be bigger and more expensive. Meanwhile, I’m hidden behind the Christmas tree, with my name spelled out on my new easel.

Another neighbor, a boy who had lost his 30ish father to a heart attack, especially liked playing with the dollhouse. He would be the dad and go off to work or take the car for a Sunday Drive. Remember those?  Sometimes, the mother (and I) would go along for the ride. Other times, she and I would stay home and cook or care for the children. My, how times have changed!

Both toys were still around for my nephews to play with when they came along many years later, but somehow those weren’t the chosen favorites that they had been for me. The boys had access to fancy road-racing sets with remote controls and early video games like Pac Man, after all. 

Call me Old School, but I like the classic toys which, unlike hairdos and clothing, never go out of style.   


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