Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys bring back fond memories of childhood. What’s wrong with a little creative thinking?
Despite the irreparable damage done to the product by the disparaging comments Ralphie makes in “A Christmas Story,” I liked getting Tinker Toys for Christmas when I was growing up.
“I guess I’d just like some Tinker Toys,” Ralphie feigns, after his mother spurns his original gift desire — “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle” that Ralphie really wanted for Christmas with the now familiar admonition: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
“Tinker Toys?” Ralphie’s adult narrator’s voice says to himself in that movie. “She'd never buy it.”
My mom did. She bought us — two brothers and me, and later a sister — a lot of Lincoln Logs. I liked Lincoln Logs a lot. Lincoln Logs, for a time, were my life. Should I be embarrassed by that?
Play-Doh was cool, too. You could build almost anything in your imagination with Play-Doh.
A NEW WORLD
My parents apparently were secure with the world they had maintained for us because they supplied us with almost unlimited access to the tools we needed to create new worlds on our dining room table or our living room floor.
My mom and dad gave us gifts for Christmas that spurred our creativity long before a trend existed toward “educational toys.” They began with building blocks — the smart ones with the numbers and letters on them. Then they moved on to the Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs — multiple canisters of them. And they gave us Lego bricks. There isn’t a building in the world you cannot construct with the proper number of Lego bricks.
They took parental risks. When their children built a building that they were especially proud of, it likely was going to be left around for a while. And then, when the toy wrecking ball truck was brought out to demolish the structure, there likely would be random bricks and blocks that lingered on the floor for a while. These are things that could be stepped on or kicked by bare feet.
Most often the casualties would be adults. Fresh in from the outside, where they had been walking on stones and sticks all day, most kids never noticed such indoor injuries.
As years were added to our ages, my folks brought in the Erector sets — with motors and wheels so you could make not only buildings, but also vehicles to get to them and bridges over which those cars and trucks could travel.
Did you know that you could mold Play-Doh so that it looked sort of like people — large and small — who were passengers?
And if Mom or Dad stepped on a clay human that was left on the floor when play was completed, it didn’t do any damage. Sure, it felt a little icky, but most parents won’t scold their kids over a thing like that.
Page 2 of 2 - Whatever my parents were trying to encourage us to do with their gifts — I mean beyond keeping us out of their hair for extended periods — it must have worked. I helped construct buildings when I got older, before I switched to working with words. My younger brother continued to build things with adult toys — hand tools, paint and drywall — so I’d say the Lego bricks and the Lincoln Logs did their job pretty well.
My older brother built roads and bridges, for heaven’s sake. I don’t want to worry anybody by tracing all his knowledge of constructing those things to the Erector sets. He studied some. He passed a few tests.
But he got his start on the carpet in front of our TV on more than one Christmas Day.