Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - From the Bottom of My Toy Chest

This wasn't the toy chest I had in my room, but it could have been.   Mine had the Three Little Pigs on the outside.   Inexplicably, it remained in my childhood bedroom right through my college years.   Of course, in my later years, I never opened it.  My portable television sat on top of it.

But, as a kid, this was my treasure chest.  Hours and hours of fun were contained within.  Toys that held my interest long after the Christmas tree had been stowed away.  When you're an only child, you have to amuse yourself.   And this toy chest did just that.

You think that the memories from your youth are
unique.  But, with photos strewn all over the internet, you discover that you're not all that singular or special.  All of my favorite toys can be easily Googled.   And brought back to life for sharing with you.
I loved my GI Joe.  I go back to the original days of this toy.  Before he was Black.   Before he had a beard.  I first sunk my allowance into this purchase when he turned up at Firestone Tires on White Plains Road in the Bronx.   Yes, they had radials, but toys as well.  I came home to begin the adventures GI Joe would have in my backyard.  I remember my grandmother's quizzical look.

"That's a doll you're playing with."

No, I would gush with pride.  It's an action figure!

This was a very early and welcome Christmas present derived from the Disney TV show.  It took you hours to set up the Spanish fortress which was surprisingly made of metal and lots of sharp edges.  Band Aids should have been included.  Once you set the stage, you'd move Zorro and the Spanish army all around the living room.  Invariably, one or two of the soldiers would go MIA under the sofa.
My very next play set and this one was devoted to the Flintstones.   Somebody had gotten smart and allowed Bedrock to be made totally of plastic.  Once I set up the street as shown, I'd conjure up some story to be acted out by Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty.  There was no Pebbles yet.   After all, this play set was for the pre-puberty age group.
Ah, the wonderful Remco company.  I loved their stuff.   You are seeing a theme emerging.  I loved play sets that allowed me to develop stories and plot lines.   Since I loved going to the Elmsford Drive-In Theater with my parents, I was a natural for this toy.  You could even show photos on the little screen.  Popcorn was not included.
Marx Toys were also big when I was a kid.  Here was the exact same gas station I had.  This was handy since my mom's best friend was married to the guy who owned our local service station.  Business was always booming there.  In my bedroom, traffic, as you can see, was much lighter.
For some reason, my parents gave me my own Jerry Mahoney dummy.  There were instructions included on how to throw your voice professionally.   I actually tried to do this.   Perhaps, my folks were trying to get me on an early, money-making career path.

Horrifically, Jerry's arm popped off, which prompted the usual comment from Mom or Dad.

"You're too damn rough with your things."

No worries as long as Grandma was around.   Jerry entered her hospital downstairs.   She closed the door to her kitchen.

"Don't come in.  He's having surgery."

Oddly enough, I still have Jerry's head.  It sits on my bookcase in my New York apartment.   More than once, it has startled the lady who comes in to water my plants.
If you needed to keep me occupied and there was no play set available, Colorforms also worked well.  I could spend hours peeling off the little vinyl pieces and setting them around the board.  Once again, I am developing witty dialogue for Popeye, Olive, Wimpy, and Bluto.  Or, in this case...
...the Flintstones.   Here you had to dress the characters as well.  Truth be told, as much fun as Colorforms was, the thing I loved the most about them was the "new toy" plastic smell of the vinyl figures.  It was pure nirvana.  Again, because of the size of some of the pieces, they all ended up getting lost around the house.  Prompting yet another typical parental warning.

"Take better care of your toys."
I tossed a lot of comic books into my toy chest as well.  I'd run down to Intown Newspapers on First Street in Mount Vernon every week with whatever change I could get out of my parents.   You could buy a couple.  Look.  They were only fifteen cents!

While most kids my age devoured the likes of Superman and Batman, I was certainly a television child.   Hit shows had their own comic books and naturally "The Andy Griffith Show" was in my wheel house.  
So was "The Lucy Show."   You could certainly do a lot more with these characters in comic books.   I mean, at Desilu Studios, Lucy and Viv couldn't actually venture down to darkest Africa.
The first thing I ever slept with...ahem.  Zippy the Chimp.   In retrospect, it's rather ugly.  Zippy is also another patient of Dr. Grandma.  His arm needed to be re-attached as well.  
This game got dragged out for holiday gatherings with the family.  Of course, you had to read the password through this little red screen.  If somebody had already gotten a snootful, the word would be misinterpreted.   This would prompt hilarity in some families.  In mine, there would be slamming doors and curse words.  The password is "dysfunction."
Another board game that actually had an endorsement by Art Linkletter on the cover.   I think his picture was actually on the money as well.   This game was sort of Monopoly-light.  You'd get a little car, go to college, get married, have a family, and wind up in the poor house.   But you could do that all in less than a half-hour, while Monopoly took several hours to play.  If we had dragged out the former for a holiday, somebody would accuse somebody else of cheating or taking extra money out of the kitty.  Just like with Password, there would be slamming doors and curse words.  
This wasn't in my toy chest.   Nope, Roger Maris' figurine sat proudly on my dresser.   It was very early brain washing by my dad, who was still a New York Yankee fan.  I, of course, lost the bat and ruined the statue's effect.  My parents ultimately tossed it out.   Years later, I found one for sale on e-Bay.  The price?  $250.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.
This was another gem I bought at that tire/toy store.  The original James Bond doll.  No, make that "action figure."   Despite the fact that 007 is dressed for underwater adventures, the action figure was, alas, not.   I found that out when I submerged him in the bathtub and ruined all the action mechanisms.
I was smart enough not to get his arch enemy Oddjob wet.  Like the movie character, you could snap his arm back and the metal hat would go flying.   Of course, I flung the hat someplace where it was never found again.   It likely wound up with Roger Maris' bat, some Colorform pieces of Wilma Flintstone's dress, and whatever else I managed to lose over the years.

Dinner last night:  BLT sandwich at Blue Plate.


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