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A Childhood Remembered - Toys of The 60's

Updated on November 06, 2014
Christmas 1957
Christmas 1957

Although I was born in the 50's, I still consider myself a child of the 60's. It's silly I know but I don't remember much about the 50's but I have vivid memories of being a kid in the 60's. Either way, I'm not a kid anymore and those memories are becoming more precious than ever.

When I woke this morning, it was raining so my plans for the day changed. Instead of attending the Virginia 10-Miler, a nationally acclaimed annual race (people, not cars), I decided to stay in and write. My thoughts immediately turned to childhood memories and how I would have entertained myself on a rainy day as a kid in the 60's. I went in search of photographs that would help stir the old memory bank.

The photo above was taken in 1957. I was just a little over two years old. The first thing that smacked me in the face was the abundance. We were not wealthy people. In truth, we probably just barely qualified as lower mid-class. We were a single income family, deliberately. My parents made a conscious decision to have less financially so that my Mom could stay at home with her children. My Dad was just starting a career as an insurance salesman. Times were lean to say the least. The sheer volume of toys in this picture reminds me of the sacrifices my Mom and Dad made to provide for their kids. In 1957 I was the only child. All the stuff in that picture was all mine. Wahoo!

Seriously...

I'm not one that needs abundance and I was just having some fun when I yelled Wahoo! I keep looking at the photo and wondering how many things does a kid need to hug or ride? I had enough under that tree for three kids and it was all mine. Silly parents with their first child. Things did change in 1958 when my brother was born.

Okay so let's get back to the purpose of this hub.

As I thought about my childhood and the things that entertained me, I realized just how old I am. I arrived at childhood before electronics. Say what?

45 rpm vinyl record
45 rpm vinyl record

Music

It's true. The only electronic device I had was a record player that played 45 rpms's and you had to manually put the needle to the vinyl. I had a little red and white cardboard box with a handle on it to store my records in. And oh I loved my records. Music was always a part of my childhood. I followed the music charts and grew my record collection. The music of the 60's was awesome and there wasn't much I didn't like. I loved Sam Cooke, the Temptations, The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, Percy Sledge, Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan, BJ Thomas, CCR, Buffalo Springfield, and well, you get it, I think. I loved it all. And I loved that old record player.

My first Barbie
My first Barbie

Dolls

What girl didn't love Barbie? I was so excited to get my first one and oh how I loved to dress her up. The fun came with the introduction of Ken to the Matel® line. Now I could really have some fun. The girls in the neighborhood would set up a mini-town in our back yard and our Barbie's would shop and gossip just like real people. I never had a Barbie car or a Barbie house so I made do with cardboard boxes and pictures from my Mom's magazines. I think Mom felt bad that she couldn't afford to buy my Barbie new clothes but she was a creative Mom. She would go to the Paint store and get their discontinued wallpaper books that had a little sample piece of the wallpaper glued to the page. If you were careful, you could remove that little 5" x 3" piece of fabric. It made a wonderful skirt for my Barbie and only needed one seam sewed by hand and a piece of elastic run through one end for the waist. I eventually learned to make a halter top the same way and my Barbie was the fashion queen of the neighborhood. I thought I was rich.

Art

Ah, the infamous Etch-A-Sketch. It was the only thing that made my ability to draw worse than trying with a pencil. I never did master the monster but I sure wasted enough time trying. Did anyone really think this thing was a real tool for making art? How much art can one make when the thing only really drew straight lines. I never have been able to think in terms of containment in square boxes so I was always trying to make it draw curves and circles. I think it's safe to say that the Etch-A-Sketch was nothing more than something to be conquered and I never accomplished it.

Silly Putty and Play Doh were great rainy day tools for creating art. Well, great may be an exaggeration. They were okay, or, I was okay. I wasn't great either. But I could take that silly putty and press it against the colored images in the Sunday comics and feel like I had really done something. I just didn't quite figure out what to do with it after I had made the image so what I did was ball that putty up and do it again. I guess back then it was cool to reproduce anything in color.

Now Play Doh was a different story. It was my first experience at being a potter. I built cups and plates and vases from that sticky colored stuff and then I'd let it harden. Needless to say I was always begging Mom to buy more because mine was all dried up. It should have been my last experience as a potter but that's a hub for a different day.

Total Time Wasters

When I thought about the next two toys that entertained me as a child, I couldn't help but wonder how we turned out as well as we have. I can think of few things that are less stimulating to a child's brain than placing a Slinky on a sloping surface and watching it flip over itself. Whose bright idea was this anyway? Maybe I just wasn't very creative because I couldn't think of anything else to do with a Slinky. We had one set of steps inside that led to our basement. They were steep and narrow and all I had to do was turn that Slinky loose at the top and someone would need the steps to go up or down. My Slinky would get stopped halfway and I'd have to start all over. I can't really remember but I wonder if that Slinky ever made the entire trip from top to bottom.

Now the Whee-lo. I can't help but giggle over this one. My memories of this one are pretty simple. I wanted that little wheel to make the trip back and forth on the track 1000 times without interruption. I don't think I ever got there. It seemed that my brother's sole purpose in life was to knock that wheel of it's tracks when I was well on my way to 1000 cycles. Are you getting the picture that many of our toys entertained us like putting a hamster on a wheel? Round and round and round we go and in the end, we've been no where.

Western Flyer bicycle
Western Flyer bicycle

The Bicycle

Thank God for bicycles. They gave me my freedom from the Whee-lo and Slinky. When I got my first Western Flyer bike, I knew my life had changed. I traveled everywhere on that bike and found so many creative ways to change the experience. By today's standards, that bike was a dinosaur. It had no hand brakes or bells or baskets or handlebar streamers. The tires were 20 inches tall and about 3 inches wide. It was built for comfort, not for speed. When I wanted to impress, I put my Mom's playing cards on the spokes with clothespins and it sounded fierce going down the road. I had the same bike for my entire childhood and didn't give it up until I was 16 and my bell bottoms got hung in the chain. I landed in the Juniper bush with a busted lip and ego. So much for showing off. It ended my relationship with that Western Flyer. The poor bike sat in Mom's basement until the tires dry rotted and the frame rusted. It went to live in the county dump.

Sweet memories

It's been so much fun thinking about these old toys and things that entertained me as a child. My memories of my childhood are good ones mostly. I know that kids today can't understand and would stage a serious protest if they were given only the toys of my youth to entertain them but you know, my toys had limits. You could only Whee-lo for so long until you got bored. That left plenty of time for homework, dinner together as a family, and forced me to think about other creative ways to entertain myself. I couldn't sit in front of a television or computer monitor for hours on end letting it do the thinking for me.

I know I've reached the age where I sound like I'm longing for the past but I'm not, not really. I'm just very grateful for the times of my youth, when the world wasn't spinning so fast, and there wasn't so much pressure on kids. I grew up when the pace of the world allowed me plenty of time to just be a kid. I was blessed with parents who loved me and made sure I didn't grow up too fast. I'm one of the lucky ones.


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© 2012 Linda Crist

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I hated those damn Etch-A-Sketch things...talk about make me feel inferior! LOL My bicycle was my cherished possession....take away all my other toys, leave me my bike, and I was a happy camper. :)

    Wonderful look back, Linda! You forgot Lincoln Logs....now those provided hours of entertainment for me.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Bill!!!! I didn't forget Lincoln Logs. I never had any. :-(

    Like you, my bike was my saving grace and I wuld have traded all the other toys to keep it, like you. Oh goodness they were such simple days.

    Are your writing today? I'm going to spend some time reading other hubbers I think.

    Thanks for spending time with me. Enjoy your day!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm trying to finish a hub for tomorrow but I doubt I'll succeed. I'll just have to go a day without a hub. The garden needs tending and there is a garage sale that is calling to me. Have a great day Linda!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    A day off is good. Renewal!

  • profile image

    SilverGenes 4 years ago

    You brought back many good memories for me with this hub. In fact, the photos made me feel like a kid again and want to get on that bike and ride. This hub is a real treat - thank you!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks SilverGenes. I had a lot of fun with this one too but it's even more special now that I know someone else enjoyed it. Wouldn't it be great to be a kid for a day and have that old bike back? Oh the places I would go. lol

    Thanks so much for the delightful comment and for spending time with me here.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, thank you for taking me back to childhood. I was born in 1957. I remember the Bozo Punching Bag. No matter how hard you tried, he'd not go down; he'd always bounce back! Why did they ever stop making it? Today's angry youth could certainly benefit from ole Bozo!

    45's and a record player were must-haves. Music is still a must-have for me.

    Remember the Jingle Jump? It had a ball with a bell inside and was attached to a long plastic string which was attached to a circle you put around your ankle. You'd put one foot in front of the other and moved quickly to get it going. The trick was to not trip over it or lose your rythym. What fun!

    Hopscotch, double dutch, pitching pennies.... Oh we had it so good! We were never, ever bored! Today's kids? They depend on batteries and the TV or computer to keep them entertained. How sad. They are clueless!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, I had forgotten old Bozo until I found this photo. :-) You're two years younger than me so I'll blame it on age. I had also forgotten all those great sidewalk games. Did you play Simon Says? And what about yard games like Dodge ball and badmitten? You're rght, we were never bored.

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

    Linda -

    Nice trip down memory lane. I think I was a year older than you by calculation, so we shared many of the same experiences. The tires on your bike were named "balloon" tires, as mine had the same. : ) At least, until I got my Sting Ray in the mid 60's! Great Job! Up & Interesting

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks rcrumple! They were good times weren't they. I appreciate your visit and comments. It's nice to share these memories with those with similar ones.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Yep, we played Simon Says, musical chairs, dodge ball, badminton, roller skated, rode bikes, scateboards, played handball, climbed trees..... Those were the days!

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

    Slinky and Wheelo did indeed have a purpose greater than amusing children. They strengthen hand eye coordination. Kids today don't have nearly opportunity enough for that.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi tirelesstraveler! What a great point you have made. Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to these wonderful old memories.

  • tirelesstraveler profile image

    Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

    There was more to my comment, but there was some operator error and it got lost. Anyway, delightful way to start my day.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks tirelesstraveler. I'm happy that my hub got your day off to a good start. It's why we're here, isn't it?

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Wow - A fantastic trip back through such glorious nostalgia! I remember it all so fondly. I still have my neon pink record holder for my 45's!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi siningirisheyes! I have had so much fun sharing these memories with other hubbers. Those were the days, weren't they? Thanks so much for reading and sharing the secret of your neon pink holder. I'm impressed. :-)

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    Yeah, the '60's were pretty good, weren't they? I had a GI Joe to play with, and I also liked my Spyder bike. Remember those giant plastic hula hoops? Oh, and congrats on the Lollipop Award, which was how I found you.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Aviannovice - you're back! Thanks for sharing my trip down memory lane. I do remember the hula hoops. I was lousy at it. lol Thanks for the congrats!

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Voted up. Thank you for wonderful childhood memories. Loved this hub. I remember my greatest day being when I could trade in my old Barbie for the new one with movable limbs. How little a child needs to be happy. Passing this on.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Gypsy! Thanks so much for the visit. You are right. If we could only preserve that ability to be happy with more simple things. I think some of us do complete the circle, where later in life we begin to realize that the simple things are the most important. We are the lucky ones. I really appreciate your taking time to share the memories with me.

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

    You bought back a lot of fond memories for me. I remember having all those toys. I remember making a robot from an erector set. It didn't do anything except stand there, but I felt like I was ahead of my time. I also was born in the 50s. But like you, I remember the 60s a lot better.

    Funny thing about those bikes, they tend to rust when you stop using them. I remember finding mine stuffed away in the rafters at the top of my parents garage. It must've been untouched for 10 years. It was all rusty and, you're right, the rubber of the tires was dried up too.

    As for the toys, it's interesting to see how times have changed. I really enjoyed reading your hub and voted up and awesome.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Glenn, thank you so much for reading my hub and sharing my memories. Confession - I was born in 55 but my earliest memories are of the 60's, thus, the title. They were good times; so much simpler and I think healthier too. Kids today are pushed so hard and parents have been robbed of their parental right to discipline their child. Sorry, I'm old school and I think a good old spanking is good for the soul. I am grateful that I grew up in those more simple times. I love technology too but I don't ever want to forget how to live without it.

    I'm happy to meet you and appreciate the visit and the vote up.

  • kenneth avery profile image

    Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

    Hello, irc7815,

    I loved this piece of fantastic writing. And the topic, presentation and graphics were superb. I gave you a Vote up and on every choice because you deserved it.

    I owned most of these classic toys on this hub and loved everyone of them, well, to be honest, (I am with billybuc), the Etch-a-Sketch. I tried and failed to many times at just drawing a box that I cried real tears.

    But I still loved it.

    I wish you had included ViewMaster; Matttel's western rifle set; Tonka trucks and I could go on.

    Thank you so much for the sweet memories.

    I wish you my very best on HubPages and in any other writing pursuits you may have.

    I am going to leave you some fan mail and follow you.

    I would love for you to read one or two of my hubs and then become one of my followers.

    A hubber cannot have too many friends.

    Sincerely,

    Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Kenneth, from Northwest Alabama, consider it done. You made my day with your generous compliments. Weren't we lucky to grow up with toys that didn't need an electrical outlet to make them fun? You mentioned some great ones that I omitted purely for the sake of making this hub so long that no one read it. The Viewmaster was one of my favorites too. I enjoyed many cartoons and traveled to far away places through it's magic. I didn't own a rifle but sure had a holster with a shiny pistol. lol I really appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings and also the votes and fan mail. I'm off to visit you and become a fan. You are so right about friends. You can't have too many on or off of HubPages. Thanks again!

  • kenneth avery profile image

    Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

    lrc7815,

    You are most welcome. I meant every word. I really love your work and thoughts you share.

    And yes. We were very blessed to grow up in a time when toys were toys. Not hard to put together or play with. Just open at Christmas and play with them until we fell asleep that night.

    Recall Silly Putty? Chatty Kathy? The Easy Bake Oven? And more?

    Oh I wish I had myself a time machine. You and I would take a long trip back to our toy days.

    I wish I had an IQ high enough to build one.

    God bless you, my dear friend.

    Kenneth

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thank you Kenneth. I do recall all the toys you mentioned. In fact, Silly Putty was one of my favorites. Not only could I find dozens of things to do with it but, I loved to smell it too. Go figure! lol

    If a time machine were available, I would bring the past forward rather than return to my youth. I have learned so much along the way that I value the lessons more than I treasure the experience. I don't think I want to repeat the mistakes of the past. :-)

  • kenneth avery profile image

    Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

    lrc7815,

    You definitely have a point on the time machine. I have thought many times of going back to certain stages of my life and watch myself head toward a bad decision, but "I" step in an tell myself to not go that way. Then, and I have studied a little about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, I think that although those decisions were not good, they all led to good things later in the base time continuum. In laymen's terms. If we go back in our life and change one little event that is like tossing a rock into a calm lake--it causes ripples, changes in our lives in the future. I am like you too, I do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.

    Do you also recall those Lionel train sets?

    I love chatting with you for we have so much in common.

    Thank you and God bless you.

    Kenneth

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 2 years ago from Central Virginia

    Kenneth, I do recall the train sets. My brother had one. I loved putting that little drop of oil in the engine to make it smoke. lol

    I'm an amateur student of quantum physics so your explanation makes perfect sense. I have been accused of being weird because I do not see problems as much more than re-directors. When things go wrong, I find myself grateful because i know that whatever the event is, it is sending me in the direction I need to go. Some call it blind faith. Whatever it is, I am grateful for it. You take care. I hope to read more of your work over the weekend.

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