• Bill Raines

Bob Bridge: BOYS AND THEIR TOYS


Columnist Bob Bridge




Young children, stereotypically, are easily amused.


However, manufacturers today go to greater lengths to satisfy a young lass or lad’s every whim and wish.


Occasionally, I am prone to recall the large toy box anchored in the corner of my tiny bedroom. It’s contents were simple but certain to gain - and hold - my attention.


Besides my beloved and protective stuffed tiger, accessible amusements included a Slinky, a handful of metal jacks, a yo-yo, a Viewfinder, Lincoln Logs, a spinning top, a pair of granny glasses, a magic 8 ball, a set of lawn darts (Jarts), a squadron of model airplanes reeking of glue, and the popular board game, Sorry.


I learned a valuable lesson early on. If one wanted to enter the toy box, he should not do so sans shoes.


Stepping barefoot on one of those metal jacks nearly transformed me into an astronaut.


I kept my most preferred plaything on the wooden floor near my bed. It was a simple plastic cup holding the cap to a tube of toothpaste.


The secret to this treasured toy?


A fertile imagination.


I perceived the plastic cup as a basketball goal and the cap as a ball. While scooting across the floor on my knees I would flip the cap toward the cup. If it went in, I scored!


If not, another guy secured the rebound.


I rattled on for hours on end broadcasting the play-by-play, pretending I was the roster of an Evansville Purple Aces basketball team competing in Roberts Stadium.


If I got weary of scooting across the floor, I‘d escape to our living room and catch an episode of Captain Kangaroo or share a brief visit with Shari and Lamb Chop, her hand puppet.


Were we completely without modern contraptions?


Well, my mom owned a Vegomatic, designed to slice the spuds she fried for supper; my sister’s phonograph played 45s when it wasn’t shocking us with a Taser-like jolt; and my dad gifted me with a pair of modest lawn clippers.


The sheers were no longer than a pair of scissors. I spent much of my childhood scooting on my butt along the sidewalk, meticulously clipping each blade of grass.


Dad often rewarded me by driving to a root beer stand. There was nothing better than sharing a frosty mug of suds.


My most memorable family gathering included a picnic, multiple games of washers (much safer than Jarts), then a post-supper Mitch Miller sing-along with lyrics projected across a wall.


How’s that for high-tech?


Six decades later, I’d like to have a few hours to frolic with those old toys. However, now that I’m a tad taller, I’d have a hell of a time shooting that tooth paste cap into that small plastic cup.


Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or bbbbbridge@gmail.com.

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