Thursday, March 15, 2012

the abandoned toys of Hillside

I don't know what it says about consumer culture that this is left out for the taking outside my parents' neighbors - better than throwing it in the trash, to be sure, although I'm not sure how many table-football players are likely to be passing by at the end of a cul de sac.  It looks fun - I can remember playing with a big bagatelle board that was somewhat similar, but that had little nails stuck into the board that caught the ball, and allowed one to score.  This wasn't mine - it belonged to a girl called Lucy Garrard, and I deeply envied her possession of it.  Playing with it probably ensured my later fascination with pinball, which got me through all kinds of evenings in Italian cafes when I was a graduate student.

But in Hillside itself?  I played cricket (stumps chalked on a wall; tennis ball as ball); played with bows and arrows; had a short lived go-cart (planks on some kind of a chassis) - those were days when one played in a quiet street, without any danger of being run over, or of scratching someone's Porsche.  In other people's houses?  As well as racing small toy cars, I helped construct complicated battles with first world war and second world war soldiers, or cowboys and Indians, or medieval knights, or revolutionary forces (many of these were probably all mixed up).  And I took part in "drawing competitions," in which we - that's the other kids of around my age - badgered someone's mother into setting a subject (I sulked if it couldn't be adapted to feature horses), and then judging it.  If you detect a certain gender bias in these pursuits, it's true that the other kids were either boys, or Girlie.  Which I wasn't.  I did have my toy horses and stables and farm animals, to be sure, but playing with these was something of a solitary pursuit.  And none of these would ever have been left out in the street.  I did, when I no longer had a need for it, sell my collection of Lego bricks, which in their turn succeeded Bayko (anyone else remember Bayko? which involved slotting red bricks between thin metal wires stuck in a base, and then sticking a green tiled roof on.  Boring.  No wonder Lego took its place.  So I don't know what the story behind this abandoned board might be, but I hope it's found a good home.

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