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Clackers, Stylophones and Wanting to Look Like Madonna

Updated on September 10, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane...

I've been having fun delving into my memory bank for this Hub. I was born in 1960 so although I'm a sixties child, we stayed kids a lot longer in those days. I was still playing with Barbies well into my teens. I was three when the Beatles had their first hit and my Mum told me that I used to do the twist!

I remember the awful day that JFK was shot. I was three but it was the first time I'd seen grown-ups cry and it gave me a life-long 'flash' memory of that day.

I have strong memories of these toys - mainly because I only owned one out of the three of them. Nevertheless, they all had a place in my childhood and even though they're a little later - the Madonna memories were just too good not to share.

Clacker or Klackers - Health and Safety would have had a fit!

*The cutting above is not real* ...just sayin'

When I was a child, it seemed as if everyone in the playground owned a pair of clackers. Everyone except me. My Mum and Dad had listened to the negative publicity of how many kids had bruised (and even broken) wrists from playing with these deadly toys.

But how I coveted them. I watched with mounting envy as kids flipped their wrists up and down, getting the heavy plastic balls to make a deeply satisfying clack-clack-clack sound as they hit each other up and down. It was like the AK47 of the playground.

The Stylophone - David Bowie had one...David Bowie!

This tiny little piece of music-making electronic kit was the must-have toy of the late sixties and early seventies. It was (and is) a simple design - just a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus.

Looking back, it was incredibly ahead of its' time which is probably why David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Erasure all used one.

It produced an electronic synthesised sound but the best feature was that it was portable, running on batteries. You could stick it in your satchel and show it off at school.

Yes - we're back in the playground again. All the cool kids had one. You guessed it. I didn't.

As a parent now, I have more sympathy with my parents choice. It would drive you nuts within a few days. But again - a much coveted toy.

Stylophone Retro Pocket Synth
Stylophone Retro Pocket Synth

Requires 3 AA batteries (not included)


Rail Twirlers - ...I actually owned one of these!

I got one of these in my stocking one Christmas and played with it for years and years. We were such simple children and very easily amused. Having said that, Amazon reviewers are reporting that their kids love them so there's hope yet!

There was something very soothing about running the magnetic wheel along the rails and back again. If you wanted a little more action, you could see how fast you could go before the wheel flew off the rails.

And not a bruised wrist in sight!

Toysmith Light-Up Rail Twirler (Colors May Vary)
Toysmith Light-Up Rail Twirler (Colors May Vary)

The only negative that Amazon reviewers are reporting is that the LED lights up when the wheel is touching the metal so you have to be careful to remove the wheel from the rails when it's not in use, to save the battery life.

Operates on 2 AG-13 cell batteries (included)


A few more must-haves - ...before we leave the world of toys

I came across so many memories while researching this Hub. They were too good to leave out. I hope that they bring back a few happy memories for you, too. And isn't it great that they're still available. Now we get to try them out on our kids - and play with them ourselves!

Jacks - Remember Them?

Spill the metal jacks over the floor. Throw the ball up in the air and see how many jacks you can pick up before you catch the ball. Wonderfully addictive and fun!

Aaaaah...Cat's Cradle

Hours of fun with a piece of knotted string wrapped around your two open hands. I think I can still do the Eiffel Tower!

The Slinky

Remember getting these to walk down steps? And the horror of getting them twisted up and having to unravel them. Simple pleasures.

Etch A Sketch

Aaah - the hours spent twiddling the knobs and creating pictures. We never seemed to mind turning it upside down and shaking it to clear the screen.

What - no 'Save Image As'...?

Barrel Of Monkeys

Oh the concentration that was needed to hook the monkeys from one to the other...great for hand to eye co-ordination and improving patience!

Just a few more - ...sorry, can't resist!

I'm just going to mention roller skates here. We didn't have the kind that have a boot fixed atop the wheels. We didn't have inline ones.

What we did have was a metal plate (of adjustable length) fixed over the wheels and it had straps at the toe and ankle. We strapped 'em on over our own shoes and off we went. I remember the glorious whooshing noise that the heavy ball bearings made and the joy of finding a smooth, slightly sloping area to skate on...

Pick Up Sticks

Remember spilling the sticks out onto the floor or a table and then taking it in turns to remove one stick without moving any of the others. Gosh - we did have patience then!

Great for rainy days when you couldn't go out to play.

In Praise Of The Humble Ball

In the UK, we used to play 'two ball' up against the wall while reciting various rhymes and throwing one ball over or under (under your leg). I used to drive my Mum crazy during the summer holidays with the thump, thump, thump of the balls against the house wall...sorry Mum!

We Called This French Skipping

This was something that I didn't play - being a more 'double dutch' kinda gal. But I remember loads of girls playing it - one at each end with the elastic around their legs and other girls doing some kind of complicated stepping and jumping on the elastic bands.


A classic - played at everyone's birthday party! Still popular today!

The Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit Books

My friend next door had the complete collection and I was green with envy. I thought it was a shame because they were kept in a glass fronted bookcase and she never read them. I was allowed to stroke them, reverentially on just a few memorable occasions.

Our favourite rhyme for playing two ball

Each peach pear plum

I spy Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb in a wood

He saw Robin Hood

Robin Hood in a stable

he saw Betty Grable

Betty Grable is a star

S. T. A. R

We all wanted to look like Madonna...

We all went to see Desperately Seeking Susan.

Most of us saw it several times. Seeing Madonna dry her armpits at the hand drier was one of the most daring things we'd ever seen. I did warn you that we were sheltered!

The great thing about DSS is that Madonna's look was so inexpensive and easy to copy. This could have been her single greatest PR move - ever.

Before long, every girl at the Disco had her hair tied in a piece of black or white lace usually courtesy of Mum's rag bag. We were all festooned with crucifixes, pouting our red lippy and the final, crowning glory had to be the gloves. Fingerless lace gloves, black or white. We all had them. Several pairs, actually.

Did you want to look like Madonna?

Were you festooned in lace and crucifixes?

Hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

I can't believe the things I've thought about...things I thought I'd forgotten.

Like how much I craved a Tiny Tears doll (after I wrote this Hub, my daughter bought me one from eBay - bless her!), how my Mum made lovely outfits for my Barbies and mostly, how much we played on our own and with other kids. We always seemed to be out and about, building dens, making tents, making mud pies for tea parties with our dolls.

Imagination is a wonderful thing and I hope that my children will look back on their childhoods as fondly as I have while writing this Hub.

I'd love you to leave a comment - What are your favourite childhood toy / game memories?

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    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Cynthia Haltom: Hi chaltom - oh that's so cool! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, much appreciated! :)

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I didn't want to look like Madonna, but she is from my home state

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @LauraHofman: Hi FlowerChick - I'm so happy that it brought back happy memories for you. I wish I'd kept all my old toys. I may have to treat myself to an etch a sketch...

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Oh this definitely was a trip down memory lane for me! I too was born in 1960 and remember these toys & games. Makes me want to dig my old treasures out of the attic...

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @anonymous: Neither had I davespeed - glad it bought back good memories for you. Thank you so much for commenting :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I was born in '56, so I remember most of these toys. I haven't thought of rail twirlers in years!

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @Ben Reed: I hear you! I bruised mine a few times with friends clackers but didn't dare tell Mum and Dad! I'm tempted to get some now - now that I'm old enough for no one to tell me what to do...hmmm

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 4 years ago from Redcar

      I remember the Clackers well - oh those bruised wrists!

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan52. I'm so glad that you liked it. I just can't believe that so many of these toys are still available. Classics never die!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      What a fun read! I'm older than you, but of course I remember all of these things - and I or a sibling had many of them. Great memories!

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @aka-rms: Aaw, thanks rms. I'm so glad that you liked it. We're a good age, like fine wine and...I was going to say cheese but maybe not. Only because my hubby keeps cheese in the cupboard until it's runny and it's a bit...ripe, shall we say :) Let's just stick with fine wine!

    • faeriesong7 profile image

      Mary Collings 4 years ago from Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland

      @IMKZRNU2: Hi Imkzrnu - isn't it funny, we thought anything American was much cooler. Still do, in fact. I am in awe of American homes. They are so much better designed than ours. When I was lucky enough to go to New York I just wandered around Bloomies, salivating over the lovely sheets and towels. If I ever go back, I'm taking an empty suitcase to fill with linens. We don't have thread counts over here.

      Sorry - got off the Pop Culture theme there a tad!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 4 years ago from USA

      Fun lens! We're the same age. :)

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very fun lens and also a blast from my past as well. I lived all of this! I was lucky to have Clackers as you call them...they were called Click Clacks in the US....yes I did like Madonna but it is funny my friends and I were more interested in the "British Invasion" bands...probably because we were in the US... and anything British was cooler.