Toys of the past settle into Christmas present #717

#717 in a series of true experiences in real estate

I am again writing this to encourage you to save children’s toys that you like, not because they might become valuable, but because you like them. These might be from your own childhood, toys you bought for yourself as an adult, or your children’s toys. You can’t save them all, but there are some really neat toys that you shouldn’t let go. And then the only question is what to do with them.

One year for Christmas I made a tableau of toys on my fireplace mantel. You could do the same. It’s fun. Fun to make, fun to see. What got me started on my project was a set of fake redwood trees I bought just before Thanksgiving at Target, the tallest one four feet high. They came already wired with tiny white lights, and I intended to use only one on the mantel for Christmas. But when I stood them up and plugged them in, they were so bright and lively that I decided to use all three.

Now I had to decide what else should go with the trees. I began rummaging in my basement for toys that I’ve kept, some of my own and others that were my kids’. I saved them because I thought I might use some as ornaments on our Christmas tree, which I never got around to doing. There have been times when I’ve wondered why I still hang onto them (there are quite a number of boxes stored away), but I’m so glad that I did.

My first thought was of my son’s Fisher Price fire station (still with an engine and fireman) and when I found it, I knew right away it would be good. I also brought up to the living room a “House That Jack Built” by Playskool (with slots to drop in different shaped blocks) and a tin jack-in-the-box with a clown “Jack” inside who is covered in red and white stripes.

Thinking that I would also need items more seasonal, I turned to my Christmas storage and immediately located my Santa sleigh with 6 celluloid reindeer all mounted on a snowy board (a treasure I found at a garage sale). And I collected a small beaded wreath, several metal trees with snowy branches, and a bearded elf whose body is a pinecone (from an elderly client who didn’t want it anymore).

My snowball man is newer, a ten inch tall papermache snowball “guy” who is appealing but pretty odd with his black Mary Jane shoes and sparkly paper strip crown. One of his hands is on his hip, the other raised in salute. He’s quite the personality, and I thought he could use a cape to complete his roguish look.

I found a piece of silvery thin fabric and clasped it around him with a miniature clothespin at his neck. I placed him central on the mantel and arranged other toys around him, some hanging, some stacked.

My wooden mantel, while broad and deep, was filling up fast, but it did look festive, and there was still space for many little objects so I kept digging through boxes. I located a number of Batman, Superman and Wonder Girl figures, also Alice in Wonderland, and quite a few regular people, mostly Fisher Price family members.

Up high on brick ledges behind the mantel, I put a Tootsie Toy train (an old one from the classroom of a retired teacher friend), and below, a couple of Batmobiles, various small metal cars and tractors (mostly ones from my mother’s primary school classes in the 1960s), and a green plastic motorcycle.

Batman on an elastic string was one of my son Nick’s favorites when he was 7 or 8, and Nick, who always remembers the smallest detail about toys he has loved, tells me it used to be attached to a suction cup for hanging. The cup is gone, but I kept Batman anyway, and now he hangs from a hook above my display as if he’s repelling down from above to catch a bad guy — or maybe to visit Santa.

Bonanza: a Polly Pocket compact with a wedding scene inside; just the thing. And I remembered and found my kids’ old Sesame Street house and took out Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Ernie to use. All sorts of other small toys turned up: a snow globe with a cabin in the middle (a premium from Log Cabin Syrup I sent away for once), wooden village figures, a large glass marble enclosing a small metal elephant (from a friend’s childhood, found in his mother’s things after she died), and a princess castle covered with sparkles and sporting banners which was my daughter’s treasure when she was about three.

It was just wonderful, I had so much, so many loved objects to use, I couldn’t use them all. I sat and stared at the panorama, jumped up to look again. During the weeks it was up, I added to it, moved items around, removed and replaced some.

I love turning on the lights.

This entry was posted in Potpourri. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: